Despite its small size (with a total vineyard area which is barely the size of Bordeaux’s) New Zealand wine has been taking the world by storm. Not in the manner of the hordes of Mordor, which no doubt trampled all over New Zealand’s vineyards during the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Instead, New Zealand wine has been rapidly expanding its share of international export markets with a focus on selling high-quality and expressive wines to major wine-consuming countries such as Australia, the UK, the USA and Canada.
So successful has New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc been among international consumers, that demand-fueled production has resulted in Sauvignon Blanc accounting for around half of all vineyard plantings in the country, up from twenty-eight percent in 2003.
Nowhere has the spread of Sauvignon Blanc been more notable than in Marlborough, which accounts for around sixty percent of New Zealand's entire vineyard area. There, on New Zealand's South Island, Sauvignon Blanc represents three quarters of the entire crop. First planted in Marlborough in 1973, Sauvignon Blanc is now also produced in other regions, including Canterbury on the South Island and Martinborough, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay on the North Island .
Of course, New Zealand wine isn't all about Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay, New Zealand’s second-most planted variety, is used to produce wines in a range of styles including sparkling wines. Other white New Zealand wines that are seeing increasing production include Pinot Gris, which has risen dramatically in recent years to overtake Riesling in terms of the volume of plantings (see the Growing and Making sections of the website for more information).
Meanwhile, the champion of New Zealand red wines has to be Pinot Noir, New Zealand's very own Dark Lord. Like Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand Pinot Noir has been critically acclaimed worldwide and wines from the South Island's Central Otago region are internationally considered to be some of the world's best Pinots. Other red grape varieties with significant plantings include Merlot, which is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to make Bordeaux-style blends.
For more information on the wines and grape varieties of New Zealand have a look at the the Growing and Making sections of the website.
And there ends the last update of the Drake Vine for 2013. I hope you've enjoyed this introductory journey through the world of wine. The Drake Vine will return in 2014.