Introducing New Zealand
New Zealand wine is world renowned, known for intensity of flavour and purity, intrinsically linked to the bucolic New Zealand wine regions. The wineries here are highly regarded for their cool climate wine styles of high quality. New Zealand wine regions extend from what is considered a ‘sub-tropical’ climate in the Northland wine region at the top of the North Island through to the world’s most southerly wine growing area of Central Otago.
Modern New Zealand wine and wine growing was reinvigorated and developed in the 1970's, with further interest since the ‘breakthrough’ of New Zealand wine via Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc during the 1990's. Today, New Zealand wine is recognized for its premium nature and distinct styles.
Where are New Zealand Wine Regions?
New Zealand wine growing regions are accessible via major cities, including Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown. Wine regions are found on both the North and South Islands, all being a relatively easy drive from an airport. The Central Otago wine region is located near Queenstown airport while Auckland and Waiheke Island wine regions are located near Auckland airport. Wellington airport is the gateway to many New Zealand wine regions, including Martinborough, Hawke's Bay and Marlborough.
New Zealand Climate
New Zealand wine is produced in a diverse spectrum of climates and styles with a focus on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. New Zealand wine is influenced by proximity to the ocean and a far southern latitude causing cool to moderate climates. The cool climate sees wineries produce wine that is usually more elegant and restrained in character.
Unique Characteristics of New Zealand
Wine styles vary broadly amongst the ten New Zealand wine regions, with a focus on medium to full bodied Pinot Noir and the very distinct, gooseberry-herbal characters found in their Sauvignon Blanc.
New Zealand white grape-based wine is often made in stainless steel tanks for maximum fruitiness and freshness. Chardonnay is usually rich in oak character and malolactic fermentation, giving weight and texture, and ‘reserve’ or ‘fume’ styles of Sauvignon Blanc may see oak for additional savouriness and texture. Typically, New Zealand red grape wines are medium bodied, elegant, and fine in tannin profile. Pinot Noir is known for its quiet power, and red grape wines from Hawke's Bay’s famed Gimblett Gravels offer powerful yet controlled wine, produced typically from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and blends, or Syrah.
Wines to try from New Zealand
New Zealand wineries are working with a broad range of grape varieties, mostly French – with a focus on Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand wine blends and single variety wine is made predominately from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Viognier and Syrah. Some New Zealand wineries are now working with the Austrian grape variety Gruner Veltliner, and there are small plantings of ‘alternative varieties’ throughout some regions.
Pinot Noir is considered as the flagship red grape for New Zealand wineries. Wine produced from Pinot Noir is typically elegant, fine and long in flavour, with examples from Martinborough typically more structured than the generous, silky wines of Marlborough or the bombastic, powerful wines of Central Otago. Pinot Noir from New Zealand wineries tend to cellar short to medium term, though some benchmark wine producers have wines that live a very long time.
The most recognized and widely drunk white grape wine in New Zealand is Sauvignon Blanc which has arguably put New Zealand wineries on the international map. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is typically gooseberry, herbal and to an extent tropical fruit-orientated, and ranges in styles from very easy drinking through to more oaky and lees matured Sauvignon Blanc.
Must See New Zealand Wineries
New Zealand wineries range from boutique, small operations to very large scale in production and have some very recognisable brands among the mix. These wineries are mostly bound to a comprehensive sustainability charter and many of them are farming organically or are certified organic. High profile New Zealand wineries include Marlborough Vineyards, Hawksbridge, Cable Station Road, Awanui, Wilton Farm, Ribbonwood, Graham Norton's Own, The Rocks, Ribbon Hills, Lobster Reef, The Sounds, In Situ, Looking Glass, Whisper Rock, Cloudy Bay, Fierte, Night Garden, Interlude, Metal Daisy, Seaside and Pandora's Box.
The future of New Zealand
New Zealand wine is in an enviable position with its highly elevated profile for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. This reputation has helped New Zealand wineries show off other wines and styles from other grape varieties, and has assisted in building further recognition of the premium nature of New Zealand wine. New Zealand also has the image of a pristine, green environment which encourages wine region tourism. All this coupled together will only draw more attention to the already wonderful New Zealand wine offering and will encourage further diversity of grapes and styles.
- New Zealand
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Sav Blanc
- White Wine
- Pinot Noir