IWSP New Zealand

Wine from the land of the hobbits

Ever since the fantasy epic "Lord of the Rings" inspired millions of cineastes, the rugged and mystical landscape of New Zealand has become famous worldwide. The two islands in the southern Pacific have become a popular tourist destination ever since. But not just friends of nature and Hobbit fans love New Zealand. When, in 1985, a crazily aromatic Sauvignon Blanc entered the world wine stage with Cloudy Bay, New Zealand become a hide away for wine geeks.

"New World" in many ways

With the simple concept of "new world", experts have already combined the origin of wines outside Europe. In the case of New Zealand, this can be accepted in many ways. So there is notable winegrowing only since the 1970s. It started with an advisor from the Geisenheim University from Germany who promptly recommended the cultivation of Müller-Thurgau in the cool climate. A grape variety easy to grow, however not attractive to the market. A little later, other grape varieties were added, which are known from cool regions. Sauvignon Blanc, which covers more than half of the vineyards today, has successfully established itself, followed by the new star of the New Zealand wine cellar: Pinot Noir. Also Chardonnay and aromatics like Pinot Gris or Riesling bring fantastic wines here. In addition, new terrains are constantly being conquered for winegrowing and exciting connections between natural conditions and grape varieties are discovered. An enormous variety of wines has emerged in a very short time.

Fascinating is the incredibly well-developed fruit aromatics of all New Zealand wines, the pcision of which is unmatched in other winegrowing nations. There are many reasons for that. New Zealand is the southernmost point for growing vines. The Antarctic is not far and the land mass is additionally cooled by the Pacific. This ensures a cool climate and thus for a long maturation period, which gives the grapes enough time to incorporate aromas. The winegrowers also suspect the enormous UV radiation to promote the fruitiness of the wines. Because the country is remote and sparsely populated, there is hardly any air pollution and the light intensity is not only measurably higher. If you work without UV protection in the vineyard you get a heavy sunburn within 5 minutes.

Sauvignon Blanc - the flagship from New Zealand

Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region is one signature style. Nowhere else will wines from such a wine with such intense flavors. Particularly the wines of Cloudy Bay, Villa Maria, Nobilo or Brancott charm with catchy aromas of passion fruit, gooseberry, beech tree and invigorate with crisp acidity. In addition to the intensely fruity style, which has become the flagship for New Zealand wines, there are now also winemakers who interpt the grape variety differently. "We want our wines to show the terroir on which they grow and not just the grape variety," explains the wine manager Colin Ross from the biodynamic working winery Seresin. ppared with other viticultural and cellar methods, the Sauvignon Blancs have more body, smoky-spicy minerality and a tightly interwoven and restrained bouquet. The wines of Neudorf from the neighboring Nelson region also go in this direction. "Sauvignon from New Zealand has become more diverse," says owner, Judy Finn. "Our wine has to fit with fish and seafood, because for me the perfect summer day consists of freshly cracked New Zealand oysters and a cool glass Neudorf Sauvignon."

Rising star Pinot Noir

"We just wanted to make good Spätburgunder."

Explains Karl-Heinz Johner to the question of why he invested here as an established, German winegrower. With a cool climate, which is very similar in Burgundy, spoke much for New Zealand. "I am fascinated by the clear sweet fruit of the Pinots here," says the top wine maker from Baden "it is as if a perfectly mature and unharmed fruit lies on a silver tray and the room is filled with fragrance," he enthuses further. Since 1998 he is now active and has experienced how Pinot Noir changed from the niche product to the New Zealand classic. The regions of Martinborough, Marlborough and further south are Central Otago. Especially in Martinborough, with its small boutique winery, is considered the alter ego of Burgundy. The Ata Rangi estate, which produces wines of world renown on limestone soils, stands out particularly here. It is the perfect balance between maturity and acidity, complexity and elegant flavors that characterize the Pinot Noirs here.

In Marlborough, however, the Pinots are lighter with more exuberant fruit. Wines like Villa Maria, Brancott or Nobilo also create what few Pinot winemakers succeed: drinking flow, demand and affordability. On the other hand, the Central Otago region, which has been vinified only since 1987, is a major contributor to the world of Pinot Noir. It is the southernmost wine region and the climate is characterized by extremes. Surrounded by high mountains, the differences between day and night temperature are particularly large. Only when in the 1980s a large artificial lake was created and the climate moderated somewhat, the ascent of Central Otagos began as a wine region. The vines are often found on the gravestones of the gold diggers who sought their fortune here in the 19th century. Today, it is creative descents and adventurers who made their breakthrough with Pinot Noir. Among them is the Austrian Rudi Bauer, who produces fantastical Pinot Noir in the slightly warmer sub-region of Bendigo. In no other region around the world Pinot Noir achieves this mocca-like concentrated fruit and fullness, this spice and heartiness without losing any elegance.

With its wines, New Zealand is contributing just 1% of global production and has managed to establish itself in the shortest possible time. For Rudi Bauer, there are two reasons for this: "In terms of quantity, we are a dwarf but qualitatively a giant and we hold together. Because everyone makes other wines here, so it makes no sense to compete, but to exchange, so that we can all make even better wines. "