New Zealand is somewhat of a newcomer to the world of wine, especially when you compare it to the likes of France and Spain. But thatís not to say that New Zealand wine canít stand up to its old world rivals. The country exports a vast amount of its wine production, makes arguably the best Sauvignon Blanc on the planet and its Pinot Noir is beginning to create a stir. But with over 10 New Zealand wine making regions to choose from and each producing some very diverse styles of wine, it can be helpful to know a bit more about the country and its wines before you buy. Here we provide a summary of New Zealandís wine regions to help you get started.
The principal wine-growing region on the south island is Marlborough, with roughly half of New Zealandís vineyards located here. This region made a name for itself when it started producing Sauvignon Blanc to such a high standard that it began to rival that from Sancerre in France. Marlborough benefits from long hours of sunshine and cool nights and this long and slow ripening period helps retain the vibrant flavours that make New Zealand wines so distinctive. The region also produces some good Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
To the west of Marlborough is Nelson. This small New Zealand wine region is good for growing wines that benefit from cool conditions. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir can also be found here.
At the opposite end of the island is Central Otago. This is the most southerly, but also the highest, New Zealand wine growing region. The region is sheltered inland and benefits from hot summers and cold winters. Pinot Noir is the principal wine to come from this region, although Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are all also worth a look.
Finally, Canterbury and Wairpara are located on the east part of the south island and, although being overshadowed by neighbouring Marlborough, are producing some decent tasting Chadonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling.
Moving up to the North Island, youíll come across Hawkes Bay on the east coast. This is the oldest and second largest of New Zealandís wine growing region. Chardonnay is the key grape planted here. However, the region also benefits from long sun hours of sunshine, which is good for late ripening red wines, such as Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, making it New Zealandís answer to Bordeaux.
Moving up the coast is Gisborne. This New Zealand wine region receives plenty of sunshine and shelter. About half of the vineyards are dedicated to Chardonnay, resulting in the region being termed the Chardonnay capital of New Zealand. Elsewhere in the region, you will find a number of other grapes including Gewurztraminer, Semillon and Chenin Blanc.
At the north of the island is the appropriately named Northland. Despite winemaking almost dying out here a few decades ago, there has been a lot of wine interest here more recently. The warm conditions make it a good region for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. Auckland, and the New Zealand wine region of Waikato, also produce some good wines made from these grapes.
Finally, Wairarapa and Martinborough are located at the southern most tip of the north island. They are well known for their white grapes but also produce some stunning Pinot Noir.
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Louise Truswell works in the wine industry. She has been writing about wine for couple of years and likes writing about New Zealand wine. This is just a brief summary of New Zealandís wine regions. If you are interested in finding out more about New Zealand wine, visit - www.virginwines.com
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