New Zealand’s wine production is still small compared to other countries. However, these wines are praised the world over, and are becoming a strong reference for the more adventurous enologists. The regional wines have received important international awards, and complement the menus of the finest restaurants in cities as far away as Madrid, London, Los Angeles, and New York.
The reason behind this unexpected boom can be found inside the country’s very own wineries, most of which are family owned. One particular quality that distinguishes them is that, instead of competing for the number one stop, these enterprises work in unison to battle against a greater evil: the hostile climate. New Zealand is one of the world’s most southern countries, where the cold Antarctic winds make it very difficult to properly cultivate grapes. Sauvignon Blanc accounts for more than 20,000 acres of vines. It could be said that this grape variety is responsible for the country’s global success. On the other hand, we cannot forget the excellent red wines produced using Pinot Noir.
1. Kumeu River. / 2. Palliser. / 3. Pegasus Bay. / 4. Te Mata.
A belt of wine regions extends southwards 1000 miles from Northland to Otago, but 80%t of the production is centered in three regions to the East of the archipelago: Marlborough, in the South Island (50%), and Hawkes Bay (21%) and Gisborne (9%), both located in the North Island.
Oenology came to New Zealand from Australia in 1819, mainly to the North Island. The austral geography of the country makes the north a little warmer than the south, more suitable for the cultivation of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Most important wine regions in North Island
Situated on the coast, it is the country’s most sun filled region and the best for the cultivation of red Bordeaux varieties (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir are also grown). Church Road, Te Mata and Craggy Range are the most popular wineries in these parts.
The Pinot Noir variety is the most popularly grown, and certainly the most critically acclaimed in the region. The best winery is Palliser, in Martinborough, whose Pinot Noir wines have captured worldwide attention.
This region has a fertile, alluvial soil, with vineyards of high fortitude that allow higher yields of the most popular varieties. The most famous wineries include Spade Oak, Matawhero and Cognoscenti. In Aukland the Kumeu River winery also stands out for its limited production.
Most prominent regions in the South
South Island has gained importance in terms of production output
since 1973, when Montana Wines planted 4000 acres of vines throughout
the region of Marlborough.
The country’s main producer is known for its magnificent Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Noir is also cultivated for he elaboration of high-end red wines, and Chardonnay and Pinot Noir come together to form regional varieties of sparkling wine. This region, holding its capital in Blenheim, keeps its most special blends in the wineries of Montana Brancott, Cloudy Bay, Whiteheaven, Fromm, and Giesen.
In the outskirts of the city of Christchurch there is a colder climate, suitable for the production of excellent Pinot Noir. In fact, the aggressive winds, lengthy autumns, and dry weather are perfect for the harvest of Chardonnay and Riesling. The most interesting blends come from Pegasus Bay winery in North Canterbury.
This is the southernmost wine region in the world, and the coldest area in all of New Zealand. It’s growing production is geared toward the production of excellent, expensive wines of the Pinot Noir variety. Felton Road is the best winery of this region.
New Zealand’s wines are recommended not only for their novelty and elegance, but also for the way they distinguish themselves by the hard work that is wonderfully manifested with the uncorking of every bottle. ■