The New Plymouth Wine Tasting Club is a group of like-minded people who host and enjoy wine tasting events in New Plymouth.
The club started back in 1982 and now nearly 40 years on, has quite an active membership of over 80, who regularly attend events on a monthly basis – the focus is tasting, enjoying and learning about wines from all corners of the world. The club has their own wine cellar collated over many years, by club purchases and donations, and often they will open a selection of wines from the cellar to try.
Find out more about the club on their Facebook Page:
Anyway I was recently invited to attend a Tasting event, the presenters for the evening being Matt Thomson and Sophie Parker-Thomson MW, owners of Blank Canvas Wines in Marlborough. Of course I jumped at the opportunity as I know what excellent wines Matt and Sophie produce, having tasted a few over the years – I met them several times at various functions during the three years I lived in Marlborough too. (Three years immersed in the Marlborough wine region was an amazing experience.)
Matt and Sophie
Matt and Sophie are great presenters: they both know their stuff and are obviously very passionate about their wines and I quote from their website:
“Blank Canvas is our vinous studio. It’s our clean slate where we combine art and science in unity, without being enslaved to tradition. We can play by our own rules, with our ultimate aim of creating wines that excite, delight and inspire you.”
Matt and Sophie both grew up in Central Otago, and are now based in Marlborough – Matt runs his wine consultancy business Kiwi-Oeno, working with wineries / vineyards in New Zealand & Europe & two vintages each year. He has a Masters Degree in biochemistry and has made wines for many well known New Zealand producers: he is well respected for his knowledge and contribution to the New Zealand Wine Industry.
Sophie has a background in the legal profession, but after helping Matt with harvest in Marlborough in 2011, fell in love with the wine industry – she stayed and has been learning everything she can about wine “like a sponge!” Recently after several years of very hard graft, Sophie was announced as the South Island’s first ever Master of Wine, joining just 14 other New Zealand-based Masters or Wine, a very prestigious qualification indeed – Congratulations Sophie.
The Presentation / Sulphur in Wines Discussion
As I mentioned earlier, Matt and Sophie were both excellent as presenters, entertainers and educators. We learned so much about their background, wine experience in NZ and overseas, passion for the craft, wine philosophy, views on SO2 and much more.
Matt acknowledged Sophie’s paper for the MW paper for her MW titled, What is the relationship between the use of sulphur dioxide and biogenic amine levels in wine? Her research paper presented a robust investigation into why some people react badly to wine. It seems it may not be the SO2 in wine but more about the relationship between sulphur dioxide and the levels of biogenic amines BA’s. For those interested the abridged version has been published by Jancis Robinson on her website: https://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/tolerance-v-intolerance
Over 60 members and guests attended, and eight wines were tasted. Matt and Sophie guided us through each wine with information on the vineyards, wine making processes, whole bunch pressing vs whole bunch fermentation, asking and answering all sorts of questions about each wine.
Thanks to Jenna Sisson, Food & Beverage Manager at the Autolodge for arranging Juliana’s Restaurant & Bar as the venue with excellent platters provided to complement the tasting. An evening enjoyed by all in attendance.
2021 Blank Canvas Holdaway Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc | Dillons Point | Marborough
2018 Blank Canvas ‘Abstract’ Sauvignon Blanc | Dillons Point | Marlborough
2019 Blank Canvas Reed Vineyard Chardonnay | Waihopai Valley | Marlborough
2015 Blank Canvas Gruner Veltliner | Rapaura | Marlborough
2018 Blank Canvas Escaroth Vineyard Pinot Noir | Taylor Pass | Marlborough
2018 Blank Canvas Anthem Vineyard Pinot Noir | Gibbston Valley | Central Otago
2018 Blank Canvas Element Vineyard Syrah | Gimblett Gravels | Hawkes Bay
2018 Blank Canvas ‘Meta’ Riesling | Ben Morven | Marlborough (dessert wine)
I started trying to write some tasting notes on each wine but a room filled with very excited wine lovers is not conducive to sitting and focusing on each wine – I just sat back and enjoyed each wine and chatted to the folks next to me, very interesting to get to know them too. – all very passionate about trying new wines. I’ll more than likely join the club! Cheers, JB
For more information about Blank Canvas Wines & Matt and Sophie visit: