These are some things I know about New Zealand wine:
They make a lot of Sauvignon Blanc.
Most of the country is a maritime climate.
The world’s most southerly vineyard is there.
My friends Jen and Mark live there (okay that has nothing to do with wine, but they like wine).
They are the champions of the screw cap.
There is a huge crusade for organic farming practices.
I went to New Zealand in the 80's and much to my current-day chagrin, I spent absolutely no time exploring wine when I was there except to lug a bottle half-way across the Abel Tasman Trail, refusing to give it up even when my backpack felt like it weighed a thousand tons.
Luckily, I got to taste my way though a bevy of vinous liquid from the isles of Zealand last week. There was much to rave about and the noticeable trend away from the typical style of Sauvignon Blanc that we are used to tasting - not that there is anything wrong with those lovely bottles of nettle, gooseberry, passionfruit divinity - was refreshing, literally. I found some quite restrained versions of the grape that were more about lemon, pea shoot, and minerality. And there was some variety on offer: Pinot Gris was a fairly prevalent pour as was Chardonnay; there was a Tempranillo, and quite a bit of Syrah and Pinot Noir. I enjoyed the wines from Central Otago, a region on the South Island that gets about as Continental as possible in New Zealand. The whites were surprisingly robust because of the unique summer heat, so I was told.
Check your Vintages magazine in the future for a few of my favourites: Marisco Vineyards, Giesen Wines, and Oyster Bay will be releasing a rosè bubbly perfect for patio sipping.
I browsed the New Zealand isle at the LCBO yesterday and came home with this.
There's an aromatic nose of floral, ginger, and apricot followed by a crisper, simple palate of citrus fruit with a juicy finish. It's not complicated, just plain old good for afternoon sipping ($14.95).
PS. I forgot to bring my camera to the tasting, again. Check out Éva's blog for a visual reference.