Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Spotlight on New Zealand wines

To export wine into the world’s biggest wine market, the US, and be surpassed only by Italy and France is no mean feat. This is exactly what New Zealand has done. What makes this even more remarkable is that the country’s production accounts for less than one per cent of the world’s wine. What it does produce is extremely good quality and value for money.

Marlborough, New Zealand

While we all know and love New Zealand’s Marlborough sauvignon blancs, the country has a wide variety of styles. Pinot gris has become the fashionable grape. It is a mutation of pinot noir and the fruit appears to have a slight greyish tinge, hence gris.

New Zealand pinot gris tend to be more like those from Alsace rather than the drier and crisp Italian pinot grigio. They are more complex and aromatic than their Italian counterpart, with notes of apples, pears and lemons laced with smoky spice.  

The grapes are grown throughout the country. Some of the main regions are Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Central Otago and Canterbury/Waipara Valley. 

Here is one that I recommend.

Isabel Estate Pinot Gris, 2014, Marlborough £19.95, Berry Bros. & Rudd, (
Loaded with mesmerising tropical fruit flavours infused with a smattering of honey and spice, this refreshing pinot gris tantalises the palate. A well-balanced wine that has more complexity than many wines of this genre.

Pinot noir
This is a notoriously difficult grape to get right, but when it is done correctly you end up with a most delicious wine. The second most widely-planted grape variety in New Zealand (sauvignon blanc is number one), it is mainly found in the cooler southerly regions of the country such as Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Nelson, Marlborough, Central Otago, Canterbury and Waipara Valley.

Pinot noir oozes flavours of red berries. As it matures it can have hints of mushrooms. Generally, they are velvety smooth on the palate. New Zealand pinot noirs tend to be softer and fruitier and not as powerful as those from France.

Here are two that I have really enjoyed.

Berry Bros. & Rudd New Zealand Pinot Noir 2014 by Greystone Wines, Waipara £17.50, Berry Bros. & Rudd (
From what is regarded as one of the New Zealand’s top wineries comes this delicious crisp pinot noir produced especially for Berry Bros. & Rudd. Think ripe cherries underpinned with a savoury tang and a hint of oak. Wonderful at any time of the year, with or without food, this is impressive.

Nelson Pinot Noir 2016 (Marks & Spencer, £11)
Nelson, north-west of the South Island, is said to be one of New Zealand’s sunniest regions. It is also bursting with small family-owned wineries. Its most renowned grape is pinot noir. Matured in new and used French oak barrels for 12 months, this effort from Chris and Heidi Seifried is a good pinot noir. A cherry-loaded wine enriched with a peppery kick, it is subtle and elegant. Easily quaffable.

Riesling and Gewürztraminer
The South Island has the perfect climate for growing riesling which can be sweet or extremely dry dependent on where it is grown. New Zealand rieslings tend to be fruity with bracing acidity.
New Zealand Gewürztraminer is wonderfully fragrant with notes of cinnamon and ginger. The texture and taste of wines will vary according to whether it comes from the North Island or the South. 

Here is a delightful blend that I have discovered.

Hunky Dory The Tangle 2015, Marlborough £11.99, Waitrose
A melange of riesling, pinot gris and gewürztraminer, this apple-soaked wine with dashes of lychee and ginger is gloriously aromatic. It is lovely and smooth and goes down a treat on a summer’s day.

By Daralyn Danns