New Zealand Wines

New Zealand Wines

With new wineries coming on stream at an amazing rate, New Zealand seems to raise the standard year on year. Dramatic improvements have been made with red wines, with Pinot Noir all the rage. The total area under vine in New Zealand has more than doubled since 1990, and its wine industry is one of the most forward-thinking in the world.


New Zealand wine is exciting because of the number of wines being produced from slightly less predictable grape varieties. Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and RIesling perform well while beyond Pinot Noir, it may be surprising to find Syrah, Zinfandel and even Pinotage producing the goods and joining Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

New Zealand's wine-producing regions stretch from Auckland on the North to Central Otago, the country's most southerly wine region on South Island. The country benefits from a temperate, maritime climate and a wide range of wine styles are produced.

On the North Island some of New Zealand's top Cabernet-based reds are made in the Auckland / Henderson area. Waiheke Island, a short ferry journey from Auckland, enjoys a warm microclimate, which helps it to produce rich Bordeaux blends. In Northland, a number of boutique wineries are making high-class Cabernet-based reds and Chardonnay. Gisborne is Chardonnay country but also produces some promising Gewürztraminer.


Hawke's Bay is a region with a range of soils, including the Gimblett gravels, a 2,000-acre area of deep, stony soil. Full, rich Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot blends are made in good vintages. The Chardonnays are some of New Zealand's most powerful and Sauvignon Blanc tends to be more rounded than the Marlborough style, from South Island. On the southeastern tip of North Island, the tiny region of Martinborough, also known as Wairarapa, excels in fine Pinot Noir.

On the South Island, Marlborough, the largest wine region in New Zealand, has seen extensive expansion since the mid 1970s. The maritime climate and stony soils are perfect for Sauvignon Blanc, which has become synonymous with Marlborough. Distinctive Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling wines are also made in this hugely fashionable region. Very slightly cooler than Marlborough, Nelson has been successful with aromatic whites while Canterbury, in the Waipara sub-region, is scenic, mountainous region of Central Otago, Pinot Noir is the star, rivaling the best of Martinborough. Riesling and Pinot Gris also perform well here.

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