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The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa or ‘the land of the long white cloud’. The country mainly comprises two islands: North Island and South Island separated by the Cook Strait. Vines were established as early as the 1830’s and now there are ten distinct wine growing areas:
North Island : Northland, Waiheke Island, Auckland, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Wairapa and Martinborough. Hawkes Bay on the East Coast predominates with a similar climate to Bordeaux, and developed by Australian McWilliams in the 1970’s. Here are some super red blends, Syrahs, Cabernets, Merlots and Pinot Noirs. Producers include Babich, Craggy Range, Kim Crawford, Esk Valley Wines, Te Awa, Trinity Hill and Villa Maria. Further South is Martinborough with its Dry River, Ata Rangi and Palliser brands – lovely Chardonnays and Pinots Gris, Craggy Range and Escarpment. And Waiheke Island way up north in the Bay of Islands with its special Man O’War Sauvignon Blancs and Semillons.
South Island : Marlborough in the north, established in the early 70’s and probably now most famous for Sauvignon Blanc production: Cloudy Bay (owned by French giants LVMH) also with its Te Koko and Pelorus brands; Brancott Estates, the largest producers all over NZ., Saint Clair, Jackson Estate, Babich, Dog Point, Spy Valley, Kim Crawford and Greywacke; plus the estimable Villa Maria, also spread wide across the whole country.
Waipara Valley, closer to Christchurch, with some good Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Rieslings. Then much further south, in the lee of the Southern Alps, lies Central Otago offering super Pinot Noirs and Rieslings.
New Zealand may be a small country in size but it is a great country: its peoples, mighty landscapes, good governance and wines to stand alongside the very best in the world.
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