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
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
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.