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The New Zealand wine industry is one of the younger wine regions in the world, whose popularity grew immensely when Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc hit the world wine scene, quite unique in style when compared to the typical French Sancerre.
Wine is successfully cultivated on both the North and South islands from a latitude of 36 degrees in the North to 45 degrees for the most southerly wine region in the world, the South Island's Central Otago. The majority of regions are located in free-draining alluvial valleys except for Waiheke Island and Kawarau Gorge in Central Otago and benefit from the moderating effect of the maritime climate as no vineyard is more than 80 miles from the ocean. With plentiful sunshine hours and cool evening sea breezes, the grapes thrive.
Sauvignon Blanc is the major white variety people will think of when you mention New Zealand Whites, however fantastic Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and less commonly Viognier, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Blanc. Pinot Noir is the most widely planted red variety in New Zealand although Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot (Bordeaux Blends), Syrah are also grown and in even smaller amounts, Tempranillo and Montepulcianos can too be found. Sparkling wines of very high standards are also made in New Zealand.
The key wine regions in New Zealand include Auckland, Canterbury, Central Otago, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Marlborough and Nelson.
Maori for 'glistening waters’, the Wairarapa is located in the southeast corner of New Zealand's North Island, about an hour away from Wellington. Amongst the small, quaint towns and rolling fields of livestock, you'll find some of New Zealand's finest wines.
The small community of boutique winemakers in the region work hard to preserve the unique terroir of the region. Wairarapa offers hot summers, cool nights, and long, dry autumns that are perfect for ripening. The strong winds and harsh, semi-maritime climate leads to low yields of healthy, small grapes with very thick skins - these grapes are treated with care to make some outstanding wine.
The wine region of Martinborough is located in South Wairarapa on the southern end of the north island, and in only 30 years or so has gone from a sleepy colonial town to a world-class wine village.
The region has picked up numerous international awards since the 1990’s with Pinot Noir picking up the lion’s share of the medals. Pinot Noir is undoubtedly the flagship wine of the region, with some incredible wines being produced.
The mineral-laden soils, combined with the cool climate provide the perfect backdrop for Pinot Noir, much as it has for centuries in Burgundy, France. Indeed the Pinot Noirs produced are very Burgundian in style, a compliment not adorned to many other wine regions worldwide.
The micro-climate of Martinborough is rather warm, with hills both to the east and west. Most all of the vineyards are located in thin strips around the northern and eastern sides of the town or on the Dry River to the south of Martinborough. All the vineyards follow dry riverbeds, which have the desired soil structure for viticulture.
Although Pinot Noir is the king of the reds, Shiraz is also cultivated and in the whites, Riesling, Gewurtztraminer and Pinot Gris are grown.
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