Kiwi region of Marlborough making a name for itself

WINEWISE: It put the country on the international wine stage with their Sauvignon Blancs

Marlborough is New Zealand’s flagship wine region.

It put the country on the international wine stage with their Sauvignon Blancs. Much more than just Sauvignon Blanc, though, Marlborough offers increasing range and depth in price, variety and terroir.

Up until recently, most of New Zealand’s commonly available Sauvignon Blancs were gradually creeping up to the $20 price point. The whole confusion around tax-included shelf prices being replaced by tax-excluded shelf prices on April 1 of this year further exacerbated the issue. Suddenly, more or less overnight, the prices of favourite wines appeared to be cut 15 per cent… until that 15 per cent – 5 per cent GST and 10 per cent PST – got added back in at the register at point of sale.

Kapuka Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (504084) $13.30 is one of Marlborough’s most affordable whites. Bright aromas and flavours of lime, sage, mint, tart green apple tumble into the glass. Underlying hints of ripe peaches and honeydew melon mingle in the satisfyingly bright finish.

Grown throughout the country, New Zealand Pinot Gris emulates France’s Alsace more than any Italian Pinot Grigio. Many New Zealand Pinot Gris wines undergo some barrel ageing, as well as utilizing wild yeasts and frequent stirring of the yeasty lees for creamier complexities.

Temperature-controlled fermentation of The Ned Marlborough Pinot Gris (854240) $15.15 took place in stainless steel tanks with carefully selected yeast strains, chosen for their ability to capture the aromatic intensity and enhance the texture of the wine. Rich melon and subtle cranberry flavours set this lightly pink white wine a cut above the competition.

Riverlore Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (692863) $16 offers up a bouquet of ripe gooseberries supported by understated herbal aromas and tropical fruit. Rich and almost sweet on first sip, it moves through nectarine and kiwi fruit flavours before finishing bright and crisp with subtle notes of peas and asparagus. Amazingly affordable Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc…

Beyond the fame of Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay’s benign climate and high sunshine have long-established the region as ideal for fruit-growing. Vines were first planted in 1851 by missionaries and Hawke’s Bay enjoys a significant international reputation for producing some of the country’s best red and white wines.

The Hawke’s Bay wine region is arguably the most exciting find in recent times for the cultivation of Merlot in New Zealand. Ancient alluvial river terraces provide for a superb mix of soils over gravelly, free-draining sub-soils, with an abundance of pure river water for irrigation.

Much like British Columbia, New Zealand’s red wines are predominately Merlots (if they’re not Pinot Noirs!) With a temperate maritime climate, the vines are warmed by strong clear sunlight during the day and cooled at night by the sea breezes of the Pacific Ocean. Oyster Bay Hawkes Bay Merlot (111310) 17.90 struts a medley of black currant, plum, black cherry and dark chocolate and coffee flavours.

The world’s most influential wine commentator Jancis Robinson, OBE, MW, is heading to New Zealand for Pinot Noir NZ on January 31, 2017. She is the first in a leading line-up of 15 guest speakers to be announced for the highly anticipated three-day New Zealand Pinot Noir event being held on Wellington’s waterfront.

Fruit for Riverlore Marlborough Pinot Noir (459503) $18.50 was harvested at optimum ripeness for great complexity and weight. The result is a lovely vibrant-coloured wine with aromas of sweet strawberriers and dark fruits. On the tongue there are bright cranberry, raspberry and strawberry flavours that slide seamlessly into a lightly smoked oak and earthy finish.

Much like British Columbia in so many ways, New Zealand can grow spectacularly tasty Rieslings.  Leaving behind careers in molecular biology and medicine, Doctors John and Brigid Forrest returned to Marlborough in 1988 to establish their first vineyard at Renwick – at the heart of the stony Wairau River Valley.

There couldn’t be a line-up of top New Zealand rieslings without a Forrest label appearance. The Doctors’ Marlborough Riesling (171801) $20.25 is tart and tangy. The pear, peach and melon aromas and flavours are most obvious. Jasmine and lime meld into mandarin orange rind in the finish. Very nearly perfect!

Don’t overlook New Zealand’s signature Sauvignon Blancs but remember our Kiwi cousins make so many more wines in a multitude of varieties and styles.

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