Most wine enthusiasts associate New Zealand with sauvignon blanc through which the country made its reputation. Recently the industry decided to concentrate on pinot noir, and soon, this fickle grape’s plantings will supercede that of chardonnay, presently the second most popular grape.
New Zeeland’s south island enjoys a cool climate with long growing seasons. Here Marlborough, Central Otago, Nelson and Canterbury/Waipara are now starting to produce outstanding pinot noirs. On the north island’s south, Wairarapa (Martinborough) enjoys fame with its fuller bodied pinot noirs.
This grape variety has become so “hot” that its plantings grew from 431 hectares to 3757 from 1996 to 2005 – an increase of 772 percent.
Canadians, particularly Ontarians and British Columbians recognizing good value when they encounter it, are particularly fond of New Zealand pinot noir. (Demand increased by 931 percent from 2002 to 2006)
New Zealand pinot noirs display dark red fruit aromas, fine tannins, elegance, herbal and spicy flavours along with smokey and gamy nuances.
Vintners started planting pinot noir a little over a decade ago and made good use of research conducted in Burgundy, the birthplace of this legendary grape variety, and elsewhere in the world.
They selected the most suitable clones for their terroirs, namely clones Dijon 113, 115, 667, 777; UCD 5 and Pommard. Most practice low yield viticulture to achieve concentration.
James Haliday, the Australian wine guru, in January 2005, wrote, “ New Zealand is almost unique in having different regions producing distinctly different pinot noirs”.
Between 2001 and 2005 the vineyard acreage in New Zealand increased from 11,648 hectares to 19,960, whereas production went from 53.0 millions of liters to 102.0 and average yield per hectare from 3.1 to 6.9 metric tones.
There is also a respectable increase in exports from 19.2 millions of liters to 51.4, much of it going to the U K, Canada and the U S A.
New Zealand wine makers are allowed to undertake everything to make their products taste better and more appealing, i.e irrigation, acidification or de-acidification, and/or capitalization, but varietal wines must contain a minimum of 95 percent of the grape stated on the label.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
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