New Zealand is literally on the other side of the planet from here. It is one of the most remote countries on Earth and the last country discovered by the explorers. despite its isolation, New Zealand was not spared from the scourge of phyloxera, an almost microscopic insect that feeds on the roots and leaves of grapevines. Wines in New Zealand had a difficult start, but today are thriving.
A brief history of New Zealand wine
The first recorded vines were planted in 1819 by a Christian missionary but wine was not made until the late 1830s by James Busby. The country’s wine production was stalled due to the temperance movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s. During WWII, laws were passed to close bars at 6pm—drinking at that time was referred to as “six-o-clock swill”. These laws weren’t repealed until 1967.
Wine production today
Wine is made on both the North Island and the South Island, but is really concentrated in Marlbourgh. Over 70% of the country’s vineyards are located here. The first commercial winery was established in 1973 by the Montana Company. It was not until 1985 that Cloudy Bay released the first Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and the region really exploded. Sauvignon blanc accounts for half of the country’s total acreage of vines.
Fun facts about New Zealand
As a country, New Zealand commands the highest average price per bottle than anywhere else in the world.
Although the screw cap was pioneered in Australia and Switzerland, it became widely accepted with Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blanc. Today, 85% of the country’s wine use that closure instead of cork.
Try these New Zealand wines
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough
The original Marlborough producer and still staying strong. This wine shows elements of keylime, honeydew and mandarin orange with a touch of sea salt and dried rosemary that lingers on the palate for quite a while. Crisp and refreshing, this is a perfect wine to warm up for dinner. Pick it up for about $30 at your favorite retailer.
Huia Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough
This wine has great intensity with bright floral notes and layered with guava, melon and lime zest. It will go perfectly with shellfish, scallops and a variety of cheeses. Kissed with neutral oak and a touch of residual sugar to round out the wine, it is perfect with a wide range of foods. Pick it up for about $20.
Adam Arlen: “I am passionate about wine because it is history in a bottle.” He is the sommelier for The Peninsula Club in Cornelius, NC. Originally from Allentown, PA, he believes you should always branch out and find new things. His goal is to never stop learning and continuing to grow both personally and professionally. A fun fact about him: “I was a nuclear engineer on a submarine in a previous life.”