Sure, we know New Zealand for Sauvignon Blanc — after all, it’s what made the country a household name — but there are other grape varieties that should now share some of the spotlight that’s on the little-island-that-could in the South Hemisphere.
For many years, New Zealand has been overshadowed by its southern neighbour. However, while Australia’s star in the wine world has fallen, New Zealand’s has continued to rise. Since winemakers and growers know that can’t last, they are trying to show the world there is more to New Zealand wine than just Sauvignon Blanc. There’s also Pinot Gris and Chardonnay on the North and South Island but New Zealand shouldn’t be seen as only a white wine destination; there are reds in those hills too. And that’s where those grapes are growing, especially New Zealand Pinot Noir, which is garnering a lot of attention and excitement, up and down the islands.
Pinot Noir is having its day in the sun and people are paying special attention to the grape across New Zealand. From the juicy, easy-drinking versions being made in Marlborough to the alternative styles of Martinborough, right down to the robust, complex and elegant versions being made in the Central Otago, Pinot lovers should be keeping an eye open for what’s next because this grape is definitely on deck.
Pinot Noir has become a passion for many winemakers. But while there is also a love of Chardonnay because of how it can be manipulated, Pinot does not provide that luxury. The grape is fickle and finicky, yet the results can be magical if handled in the proper way.
Having recently visited the country and tasted Pinot Noir from top to bottom, I can safely say the diversity coming out of New Zealand is as good as anywhere in the world — and getting better. It truly is a Pinot-lover’s paradise. Whether you like ’em juicy or chewy, tannin-laced or smooth as silk, New Zealand has got you covered as each region continues to evolve its Pinot program, with more vines going into the ground (the right kind of ground) all the time. And with each additional planting, winemakers have more material to play with. At this rate, I would not be surprised to see Zealand on the lips of every Pinot drinker within the next five to 10 years. Here are 16 reasons why…