A country that has established itself as one of the top producers of Sauvignon Blanc, but there is so much more! Exquisite Pinot Gris from Esk Valley, fantastic Pinot noirs from Central Otago and top quality reds from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blends in Gimblett Gravels, this island country has a lot to offer wine lovers.
This is the largest area under vines, about 20,000ha, around 66% of the national total. Marlborough has the ideal climatic conditions, cool yet high sunshine, low rainfall and free draining moderately fertile soils which produces unique wines.
There are 3 sub regions within Marlborough, Southern Valleys, Wairau Valley and Awatere Valley.
The second largest wine producing area in New Zealand, a diverse region best known for its blended red wines and top quality Chardonnay. Merlot is the dominant red grape used in the Bordeaux blends with a lesser amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. Sauvignon Blanc is the most planted grape, a lot of it seeing oak either in fermentation or used for brief ageing, resulting in a more rounded style. All the aromatic grapes, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer do well here with the varied terrain, PinotNoir is also very successful.
The most southerly (cool) region which is ideally suited to producing Pinot Noir, out of a total area under vine of 1930ha , 1555ha Is Pinot Noir.
Other areas (7)
Gisborne, North Canterbury, Wairarapa, Nelson, Auckland, Waitaki Valley. All these areas are producing quality wines most of which are exported.
The grape variety that put New Zealand wine on the world map. Out of a total of 39,642ha under vine Sauvignon Blanc covers 25,160ha! That’s about 64% and Marlborough has about 90% of the vineyards with Sauvignon in. The famous Cloudy Bay winery is situated in Marlborough.
The warmer northern areas have milder growing conditions resulting in stone fruit flavours, melon and nectarines. Cooler vineyards on South Island have longer growing conditions producing more vibrant fruit flavours and higher acidity. These wines exhibit more pungent characters, crisper with passion fruit and classic gooseberry flavours.
Native to Burgundy and very fickle to get right, has found a home in New Zealand. Growing mostly in the cooler Southern areas such as Central Otago,Nelson, Wairarapa, North Canterbury and Marlborough.
Considering the first bottling of Pinot Noir was in 1987 it is quite amazing how it has grown, now the second largest style exported, 1.5 million cases last year. There are distinct regional styles affected by climate and soil structure. All regions are now producing very good quality Pinot Noir wines, Marlborough giving bright cherry, raspberries and plums on the palate. The Southern Valleys tend to produce a fuller bodied Pinot.
Central Otago has several different regions all having their own take on Pinot Noir. A cooler climate these resemble classic Burgundies.
Wairarapa gives darker fruit aromas, sweet fruit at first then dark plum and chocolate hints.
Accounting for only 2% of exports but 6% of production they obviously like it so much they don’t let it out of the country! Found in all regions this versatile variety can be unloaded, fresh and crisp, ideal with seafood or can be fuller bodied and creamy, nutty with a touch of oak, perfect match for richer dishes.
Regionality plays a big part in the style, cooler Southern vineyards tend to give leaner crisp wines while the warmer northern areas produce richer full bodied wines.