Pour yourself a glass of New Zealand…

A selection of New Zealand wines.

A selection of New Zealand wines. - Credit: Flagship Wines

New Zealand white wines and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc are still almost synonymous, although there are other delicious wines worth exploring from the islands!

There are many different styles of Sauvignon though they all have a tangy zesty taste that indicates the NZ maritime influence in the vineyards.

There are those that are all gooseberry fruit and leap out of the glass, the more restrained tangy yet more leafy styles with asparagus fruit notes within. It is thus a case of trial and error to find a favourite as with all wine types and tastes.

Even in Marlborough, the home of NZ Sauvignon, there are significant plantings of other grape varieties including the ubiquitous Chardonnay that produces some stylish elegant wines that have some minerality and length as well as buttery fruit such as those from Auntsfield and Zephyr wines.

The latter produces a delicious a minerally Riesling and zingy lychee and rose petal filled Gewurztraminer too.

There are other less well known or widely grown grapes grown through out New Zealand that are adding a real element of interest in their wines.

Gordon Russell at Esk Valley Wines in Hawkes Bay is amongst the first growers to make stylish, citrussy crisp wine from the Albarino grape as well as the luscious Chenin Blanc based wines that age well developing ripe apricot and honey notes. His Malbecs and Cabernets deserve a try too – they have aging potential though delicious when young.

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Growers such as Hermann Seifried in Nelson, in the North of South Island facing the Sounds, is growing vines such as Gruner Veltliner and Zweigelt from his native Austria with great success.

The wines have an obvious tanginess, the essence of New Zealand wines, and the lovely broad textured notes and soft citrus flavour in the former and spicy ripe fruit in the latter.

Central Otago around Queenstown in the far south of South Island is home to some fabulous Rieslings and Pinot Noirs. The more moderate climate and stony terrain in the canyon favour these varieties.

Sam Neill, the actor and film director, has had some success with this grape at his Two Paddocks vineyards in Central Otago. The Estate wine has wildflower and citrus perfumes with dry flavours of mango and a lovely long lasting textured taste.

As the vines mature the flavours become more concentrated and as the wines age, they gain some of the kerosene notes of quality Rieslings. His Pinot Noirs with structure, spice and vibrancy develop lovely delicate layers as they age.

Heading north across the Sounds to Martinborough we reach the home of Larry McKenna at the Escarpment Winery in this region where the landscape was carved out by the changed route of the river because of an earthquake.

This created the escarpment after which his vineyards are named and on which his grapes are planted. He is renowned as a great producer of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. This white grape makes lovely refreshing white wines with an aroma and palate of pears and stone fruits with a hint of minerality sometimes finishing with a hint of honey. The Escarpment Pinot Noirs also show the greater backbone and structure together with the soft strawberry and berry fruit notes  expected from this region an hour’s drive north of Wellington.

Viognier is also grown with some success by some vineyards such as Moana Park in Hawkes Bay where the heat and dry climate conditions favour this wine and help develop its lovely heady peachy aromas that it is so well known for yet with a restrained dry textured flavour.

Sauvignon Blanc and so much more is the way to describe the wines from New Zealand depth and breadth of range in style, value and not least quality.