Marlborough, Barossa Valley

When most people think of New Zealand wine, the first thing that comes to mind will be Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. This one variety more than any other helped springboard New Zealand on to the world-wine scene.

The region is located on the northern end of the south island, nestled around the town of Blenheim, and for many years was a sheep region. It was Montana wines, who in 1973 planted the first vines in the region “too far south to grow good wine.” At the time the region was the southernmost region in the country, but nowadays Central Otago takes south to a whole new level.

Plenty of sunshine hours, relatively low rainfall and cool temperatures provide the perfect conditions for growing world-class Sauvignon Blanc the region is renowned for. Other whites grown include Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Sparkling wines. Pinot Noir dominates the red varieties grown, though is typically lighter bodied than Central Otago or Martinborough Pinots.
The Barossa Valley is about an hour and a half drive to the North of Adelaide, in South Australia and is the oldest wine region in the country, founded by German settlers. The region can be credited with putting Australian wine on the world wine map, thanks to Shiraz, which thrives in the warm climate (though Hunter Valley Semillon also contributed.)

For many years traditionalist wine makers thought the grape variety was best suited to the cooler climates of the Rhône Valley and that the variety would cook and in the warmth of the Australian sun. Although South Australian Shiraz is a bigger, beefier wine than its southern French counterpart Syrah, no one can deny the regions propensity to produce world class wines.

Not only Shiraz is cultivated in Barossa Valley, with other red varieties such as Grenache, Mourvedre (Mataro) and to a lesser extent Sauvignon. The white varieties that thrive best seem to be Semillon, Chardonnay and Rhone varietals like Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane.

The Valley has many subregions which all have unique terroirs. Seppeltsfield, Marananga, Greenock are to name but a few. With a huge number of wineries in such a small area, and a host of accommodation, the region is very popular for wine-tourism. In the words of Master of Wine Jancis Robinson, the Barossa Valley became "Australia's quintessential wine region."
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