New Wave New Zealand Wine
By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman
13 July 2019
"It’s just 46 years since the first Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc was planted. Since then it has propelled New Zealand to world ranking – with 23,500 hectares out of the country’s 38,000 hectares now devoted to this grape – but it is not the only white grape success story here.
Hawkes Bay region New Zealand wine Wine drinkers often remain unaware of New Zealand’s broad portfolio of white grapes – which show a similar precision, brightness and just as much vivid fruit flavour and pungency as their Sauvignon Blancs. In my opinion by far the most impressive of the white grapes here is Chardonnay, closely followed by the classic aromatic grapes: Pinot Gris (now the 4th most planted grape), Viognier, Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
New Zealand has strict laws about introducing new grapes. It is very expensive to get vines into the country and it usually takes about 10 years for the process, the new plantings then need 3 years before bearing fruit and further time to mature into their new surroundings. So it is early days, but we are starting to see an influx of exciting newcomers like Iberia’s Albarino grape, Italy’s Arneis and Austria’s Gruner Veltliner showing potential in New Zealand’s cool maritime climate.
Planted in New Zealand in 1800’s, but only since the 1980’s has racy aromatic Riesling shown real potential. No surprises that this cool climate grape thrives best in sunny days, cool nights and long dry autumns of South Island – it excels in north Canterbury region.
North Canterbury: MOUNT BEAUTIFUL RIESLING 2016 ***STAR VALUE***
Oddly for a New Zealand estate, Mount Beautiful released Riesling as their first wine. Loved this off-dry, low alcohol example with its floral and lime notes, crisp green apple, honeysuckle and citrus flavours, vivid acidity and gentle sweetness; a perfect match with Thai fishcakes."