Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Zealand Part IV Nelson and Canterbury

Canterbury stretches along the east coast of South Island from Marlborough to Central Otago (Part V) and includes Christchurch, which serves as the focal point of the vineyards.  Some loamy soils with clay and pockets of limestone dominate this large, flat expanse.  Pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc and even pinot gris are planted.  The hype focuses on things other than sauvignon blanc, perhaps because that's what they do well and perhaps to avoid trying to compete with Marlborough.  I have not tried a single wine from this region, in fact I have not even seen a single one, but I am intrigued.  Wish I had more to report.  It appears to be an up and coming region, so expect to see some in the next few years.
Waipara is essentially a sub-region of Canterbury, but recognized as distinct, and has perhaps the strongest potential for bringing the area more attention.
Nelson has more name recognition but that may be due, confusingly, to Mount Nelson, a Marlborough sauvignon blanc.  The region is unique due to its northwestern location on South Island, facing the Tasman Sea.  More rain falls here and the focus in discussion tends toward chardonnay and pinot noir, though sauvignon blanc dominates plantings (more acreage than the other two combined).  However, producers are small and I can not recall having seen one yet.
One of the great frustrations about finding up and coming wines that are made so far away is that most of the smaller producers have no incentive to go through the cost of distributing their wines in the U.S.  When I moved to Oregon I was amazed by the depth and breadth of high quality wine being produced that simply never left the state, or at least the west coast.  I feel much of the same is happening in New Zealand.  There also may be a lot of sub-par wines, just like in Oregon, that get snatched up just because they're local.
Next will be Central Otago, then we'll move to North Island.

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