With a history of winemaking only going back to the middle of the 19th century, New Zealand’s overall production of wine is very small in global terms, but it has won many a heart over with its focus on super high quality. As would be expected with such a progressive nation, New Zealand is also strongly committed to sustainable wine production and minimising its impact on the environment.
Geographically comprising the North and South Islands (each separated by the Cook Strait), New Zealand sits fairly isolated in the South Pacific. The ocean provides a cooling influence giving New Zealand an overall maritime climate (consistent cool to moderate temperatures and evenly spread rainfall). New Zealand stands out from other Southern Hemisphere wine making countries because of its cooler climate, but its latitude means that its wine regions enjoy lots of sunshine, and together this means that grapes can reach high levels of ripeness whilst retaining a good level of natural acidity = a tasty range of elegant and vibrant whites and earthy reds.
The standout white wine produced in New Zealand is of course Sauvignon Blanc, with intense aromatics of elderflower, green and lightly tropical fruit. Fantastic wines are also made with Chardonnay, Gewürtztaminer, Pinot Gris and Riesling. For the reds, Pinot Noir dominates production, showing lots of refreshing red fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon is planted in the warmest areas of New Zealand and is often blended with Merlot and other varieties to make Bordeaux-style blends. Syrah is also a planted in smaller amounts but has great potential and offers a very different, and elegant, style of wine than produced in Australia.