New Zealand wines are loved the world over, and with good reason. Like many New World regions New Zealand has a wine history that dates back more than a century, yet it wasn’t until 1970’s that the country really hit its stride.
The rise to worldwide acclaim was quick and sure.
The first commercial plantings of Sauvignon Blanc appeared in Marlborough in the north of the South island in 1973; but the real breakthrough came 12 years later when Cloudy Bay launched onto the scene, opening the floodgates. In very short order, viticulturists determined the ideal terroirs in which to grow the most suitable grape varieties, planting Bordeaux-blend varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and merlot) in perfect locations in Hawkes Bay, on the North Island, and Pinot Noir in carefully chosen spots in the distant southerly cool-climate region of Central Otago, closer to Antarctica.
Central Otago with its mountain ranges, undulating hills, arid plains and endless blue skies possesses a gorgeous, other worldly quality. The fruity, hard-to-please pinot noir account for the vineyards, although of late Pinot Gris made great strides.
The Pinot family grapes grown here have a remarkable ability to be quite rich, while still retaining the vibrant acidity and fine tannins needed for maturing elegantly.
Marlborough, is the largest Sauvignon Blanc growing region (24 000 hectares), although of late pinot noir, and chardonnay, have also had some successes.
The Wairau and Awatere Rivers have, over centuries, carved out pretty valleys that today are ideal for viticulture. The riverbanks offer infertile soils and extended sun exposure; the rivers provide irrigation and climate moderation.
Hawkes Bay is known more for its gently rolling hills than dramatic landscapes and warm climate. The terroirs are many and suitable for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec and other traditional red grape varieties.
New Zealand also grows grapes in nelson, Canterbury, Wairarapa, Gisborne, Waikato, and Northland.
wines offer vibrant acidity, pure aromas of berries, stone fruits, moderate alcohol and succulence rarely found other countries products.
Recently approximately 50 wineries’ representatives visited Toronto to offer their products for tasting.
Here are the ones I liked best:
Pinot Gris, 2009, Gladstone, Wairarapa – vibrant acidity, delicacy, flavour and length
Pinot Gris, 2009, Akarua, Central Otago – delicious, nicely balanced, with great depth and deep flavour
Sauvignon Blanc, 2010, Cloudy Bay, Marlborough – succulent, aromatic, full bodied, balanced with great length
Gewurztraminer, 2010, Spy Valley, Marlborough – tropical fruit aromas, delightful flavour and texture.
Pinot Noir, 2009, Blind River, Marlborough – strawberry aromas dominate, succulent, delicately balanced, with great depth and balance.
Pinot Noir, 2009, Churton, Marlborough – aromatic, full bodied, deeply flavoured with a long aftertaste.
Pinto Noir, 2009, Pasquale, Central Otago – stone fruit aromas waft out of the glass. Earthy. Delicious, balanced and full bodied with a long and satisfying aftertaste.
Caronlie’s pinot Noir, 2009, Ostler, North Otago – delicate, fruity, med-bodied, acid-driven, elegant.
Merlot Malbec, 2007, Te Awa, Hawkes Bay – dark red, exuding ripe berry aromas, full bodied, balanced with a long and pleasant aftertaste.
Reserve Syrah, 2008, Elephant Hill, Hawkes Bay – fully ripe fruit aromas, that have been carefully converted to a powerful wine with great multidimensional taste profile.
Deerstalker`s Syrah, 2007, Sacred Hill Hawkes Bay – the balance, and power of this wine are striking. In the mouth it offers layers of fruit, and full body with a long aftertaste. Elegant and powerful.