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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.
Central Otago, located at the southernmost point of the world where wine grapes are grown, is a remarkable wine-growing region that spans over 4,000 square kilometers on New Zealand’s South Island. This spectacular landscape is surrounded by rugged mountains, glacial lakes, and wide-open valleys, which have earned the region a reputation as one of the most scenic wine destinations in the world.
The region is centered around the bustling tourist hub of Queenstown, which is an ideal base to explore the many world-class wineries and vineyards that dot the countryside. The unique soils in Central Otago are characterized by heavy mineral deposits in silt loams that are unlike any other region in New Zealand, resulting in wines with distinctive flavor profiles and complex structures.
Central Otago is New Zealand's only "continental" wine-growing region, which means it experiences greater diurnal temperature fluctuations than any other region in the country. These large swings between low and high temperatures create ideal conditions for growing Pinot Noir, the flagship red varietal of the region. The long, cool, and dry autumn period also plays a significant role in producing some of the world's best Pinot Noirs, which are known for their fragrant aroma, silky texture, and true fruit intensity.
In addition to Pinot Noir, Central Otago is also renowned for its aromatic whites, particularly Riesling, which can be made in styles ranging from bone-dry to very sweet. Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay are also produced to a very high standard, reflecting the region's diverse terroir and the skill of its winemakers.
Central Otago's exceptional wines have earned it a place in Jancis Robinson's top five New World wine-producing regions, cementing its status as one of the most exciting and unique wine destinations in the world. With its awe-inspiring natural beauty, welcoming wineries, and world-class wines, Central Otago is a must-visit destination for any wine lover.
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