Monday, July 16, 2012

New Zealand Part I

The next educational series has been postponed for too long and it is time to get on with it.  I started with Australia, mostly because I felt it needed defending due to a backlash against cheap plonk which, unfortunately, hurt good producers as well.  The next logical geographical section is New Zealand.
This nation surged to vinous prominence in the late 1990s flying the sauvignon blanc banner.  The meteoric rise in popularity of their unique style eclipsed other varieties that are only now beginning to get attention from casual wine drinkers.
This is an excellent map:
New Zealand Wine Regions
Most Americans only recognize Marlborough, the leading region in New Zealand for sauvignon blanc wines.  We often overlook Gisborne for chardonnay, Central Otago for pinot noir and the unique Hawke's Bay for some Bordeaux varieties and even shiraz.
One of the first wines from New Zealand that truly excited me was a chardonnay from Nautilus.  We also added their sauvignon blanc to the set at Martin Wine Cellar in the mid-90s, since people asking about New Zealand always wanted that grape, but the chardonnay alerted me to other potential.
Some areas have so little representation in the United States that I can offer little or no insight.  Others have awakened my passion and readers will be able to explore areas ignored by many writers.  Of course, my opinion will abound...for better or worse.  So, kia ora and keep reading...

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