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New Zealand the jewel of the new world

I have had the good fortune during to have travelled and worked in many wine regions around the world.  From Bordeaux in France to Montevideo in Uruguay from Paarl in South Africa to Oregon in the USA, looking for new and exciting wines.  We are going to discover regions, grape varieties and wine styles that you may not have been familiar with and explore the wonderful world of wine.

We start this journey around the world of wine in New Zealand.   In just over 40 years, first commercial vineyards were planted in 1973, New Zealand has achieved more than most wine regions have done in a century becoming the jewel in new world wines. It has also become one of the finest sources of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in the world.   In fact while still small in terms of volume New Zealand producers are the envy of producers around the world, being able to sell all the wine they produce at relatively high prices, average retail price around €15. So how did they do it?

New Zealand, made up of two islands, the North Island and South Island, was known for sheep, dairy farming and agriculture. Back then in the early 1970’s the idea of planting vineyards would have seemed to be most foolish of things to do.  Today, there are 35,000 hectares of vineyards, the most widely planted grape being Sauvignon Blanc, 66% of the total production, followed by Pinot Noir and Chardonnay both with 8%.

The main growing region is Marlborough, located in the northern part of the South Island.  The Marlborough Sounds provide some protection from the north-westerly winds while the Kaikoura mountain Ranges block cold southerly winds.  The combination of sunshine and cool nights means that Marlborough’s wines have plenty of fruit flavour supported by high levels of natural acidity. It is these wide night and day temperature variation, which is an important factor in the wines having incredible vibrancy and freshness.

For wine drinkers around the world Marlborough is synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc so much so that on practically every top international restaurant’s wine list around the world will have wine from this region.

New Zealand growers have taken a classic French grape variety from the Loire Valley in France and given a new ‘New World’ style which is very appealing to the wine public.  One notable difference between growers in New Zealand and other countries is the sense of unity and forward thinking in their methods. 

From north to south, and from the bottom up, New Zealand’s winegrowers are committed to the future of their land and country, and are producing wines which reflect the breath taking beauty that surrounds them, in every glass. Those winegrowers are first class pioneers of environmental, economic, and social sustainability, and should be the envy of the rest of the wine world” according to Daniel Honan, the winidealist.com, Australia.

The first wine to catch the worlds attention was Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.  Launched back in the mid 80’s it was cleverly marketed by word of mouth ‘you’ll be lucky to get hold of a bottle’.  It was and continues to be one of the most prized wines from New Zealand.

Today there are many wineries from New Zealand that you can you can find here in Spain.  So look out for Oyster Bay, Brancott Estate,  Jackson Estate, Matua Valley, Saint Claire and my personal favourites Yealands Estate, Felton Road and Fromm.

Written by

I am a Northern Irishman based in Valencia. My career in wine began more than three decades ago, in London. I am the founder of TheWinePlace.es, an online store, where wine enthusiasts can enjoy a selection of international wines and Verde Marte, a company dedicated to exporting Spanish wines. Also, Thewineplace.courses, an "approved program provider" of the courses of the prestigious WSET. I share my passion for wines through my media work writing weekly columns for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo and 5 Barricas, an online wine magazine.

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