New Zealand exploded on the international wine scene in the early 1980s with its Sauvignon Blanc. Its fresh style with tons of grapefruit and grass made it a hit for many consumers. Even to this day, Sauvignon Blanc accounts for about 90 percent of all plantings in the country. New Zealand also has the highest average bottle price of any wine producing country.
Located 1400 miles east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, this isolated country has a maritime climate for the South Island. The Southern Alps form the backbone of the South Island, creating a rain shadow effect for the eastern side of the island. Cool winds come up the island from Antarctica, cooling down the average temperature as you drive south.
Marlborough is the largest wine producer
On the South Island, Marlborough produces more than 75 percent of all wine produced in New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc dominates the plantings, followed by Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Noir. Sparkling wine is also on the rise in this area.
Central Otago boasts with lean, angular Pinot Noir
Central Otago, south of Marlborough, is renowned for Pinot Noir. It has a more continental climate, due to winds coming up from the south. The Pinot Noir coming from here is lean and angular. Mt Difficulty is a benchmark producer. The wine displays depth, confidence, and poise. Dense, supple dark cherry notes lead a brown spice element into introducing the wine. This moves into a beautifully textured plush mid palate, out of which rises fine, elegant, textural tannins. Cherry and spice notes frame the finish.
Hawkes Bay’s soil produces fine Syrah
On the North Island, Hawkes Bay, the largest and most recognized region, hosts the country’s longest, continuously operated winery, Mission Estates. While the soils here are very diverse, allowing for a variety of plantings, Syrah has found a home here. Te Mata Estate, started in 1896, is a standout for its Syrah. Deep red with a bright purple edge, Estate Vineyards Syrah ’18 has an incredibly inviting fragrance of dark cherry, raspberry, vanilla, and allspice. The palate is immediately full-flavored, a celebration of fresh boysenberry, blueberry, mocha, and fine tannin that extends to a long and satisfying finish.
What I am drinking:
2017 Huia Blanc de Blancs, Marlborough
Huia Blanc de Blancs is 100% Chardonnay and estate grown. The nose shows fresh citrus and lovely fresh baked bread characters. Light citrus flavors retain freshness on the palate. This hand-crafted sparkling wine is delicious with canapés, freshly shucked oysters, sushi, and seafood, but really, any time is a good time for a glass of bubbles! Pick it up for about $40!
New Zealand image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Grey Sauvignon Blanc courtesy of Total Wine
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.”
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