The pictures do not do this region justice. Coming to New Zealand, we knew that we would encounter natural beauty, but nothing prepared us for what was in front of us. The Marlborough Sounds is a national park tucked away into the northern tip of the Southern Island.
The vineyards in Marlborough are quite vast. They seem to stretch on forever, again a testament to just how empty this part of the world can be. Marlborough accounts for 73% of all of New Zealand’s plantings. That is incredible as the region is but a blip on the map in the scope of the total land mass. About 65% is devoted to Sauvignon Blanc, but Pinot Noir is making a strong push in recent years. Smaller quantities of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Riesling are also common.
In the background is the mountain used on the label of Cloudy Bay, New Zealand’s first iconic Sauvignon Blanc. This label put the aromatic, pungent style of Marlborough on the world map. It is still popular today, but its winemakers Ivan Sutherland and James Healy spun off their own winery, Dogpoint Vineyard, after Cloudy Bay bacame more of a commecial winery than boutique.
The “Section 94” Sauvignon Blanc is Dogpoint’s flagship wine. Made in the style of White Bordeaux, the wine is aged in French oak for 18 months prior to release. During the wine making process, the lees (spent yeast cells) are continuously stirred to add extra richness to the finished product. Above is the block where these older vines are located to source for this bottling. It is the most complex New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on the market. Well worth the price.
We were thrilled to meet with sales manager Matt Sutherland and experience one of the best wineries in New Zealand.
Our other hidden gem was Fromm Winery. Started by Swiss winemaker Georg Fromm, these wines may well be the most Old World style of wine on our trip. The Chardonnay is simply the most Chablisian style I have encountered outside of, well Chablis. What struck us the most was the experimental nature of the wine making here. The winery has the only plantings of Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, and Gewurztraminer on the South Island. While most of the bigger wineries, those are the ones who send up helicopters to break up pockets of cold air above the vineyards (really!), would never entertain the idea of planting something other than Sauvignon Blanc and maybe Pinot Noir, Fromm takes the risk.
We tasted alongside Sales Manager Adam Balasoglou. The wines are incredible, we are working hard to get them imported into the US.
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