joe kolafa | new zealand summer wines | aug. 2019
Summer is here, and for many, synonymous with juicy, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand! While New Zealand's wine-producing history goes back to the 19th century, it was really in the 21st century that vines were planted at an increasing rate. Because most New Zealand wineries came about after the 1970s, they were almost always equipped with state of the art technology that many other regions were only gradually implementing. As a result, they were able to produce significant quantities of value-driven, refreshing wines like Sauvignon Blanc. Today, it's relatively easy to find many of these in restaurants and shops, but it can be hard to discern which are really exceptional. It can also be tricky to enjoy great representations of varietals other than Sauvignon Blanc. Misty Cove, a winery in Marlborough, offers exceptional Sauvignon Blanc but doesn't stop there. I invite you to explore not just Sauvignon Blanc, but also many other great varietals coming from New Zealand today!
Let's begin with Sauvignon Blanc though, as it's no accident this grape has come to represent almost 90 percent of the country's exports. When grown here, Sauvignon Blanc is vibrant, lively, and refreshing- the perfect antidote to summer days spent outdoors. Citrus fruit flavors like grapefruit and lime play a big role in the wine's refreshing style but are often complemented by tropical fruit flavors like passion fruit. Misty Cove produces an estate Sauvignon Blanc as well as a single-vineyard bottling named 'Landmark' which is made in small quantities from the winery's Fareham Vineyard. Expect this bottling to be a richer, more densely flavored one than its counterpart.
Aside from Sauvignon Blanc, you can find several other white varietals that promise to be just as refreshing in New Zealand. Misty Cove first made a Pinot Gris two years ago and it was met with great reception and acclaim. While some wineries have crafted styles that more closely resemble those from Italy or France, Misty Cove really strove to produce a style that was uniquely New Zealand. It's rich like the Pinot Gris from France, but with more floral notes and minerality like one would find in Italy. Incredibly food-friendly, especially with summer's lighter fare.
Some of our favorite grape varietals are the result of genetic mutation. We see this in the classic example of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Grigio all beloved genetic mutations of the same varietal. Sauvignon Blanc has a “grey" cousin too, Sauvignon Gris, and it's delicious! The grape has more pigmented skins, giving the resulting wine a fleshier quality than the lighter Sauvignon Blanc. It naturally has lower yields and a higher concentration of flavor and can typically just be found in France's Bordeaux & Loire Valley regions. If you're a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, give its fleshier sibling a try soon!
Another unconventional, but exquisite expression of New Zealand terroir can be found in the Austrian grape Grüner Veltliner. First planted in New Zealand in 2000, it has since spread to all the major southern wine-growing regions and for good reason. It's a mouthwatering wine with a smooth, rich texture. Just like its Austrian counterparts, you can expect notes of lemon pith, nectarine and apple blossom.
Because New Zealand wineries have been early adopters of new technology, you'll appreciate the convenience and ease of bottles with twist-tops. Convenience doesn't stop there though, Misty Cove also has wine available in recyclable cans! Each can contains 250 milliliters (1/3 of a bottle) and is perfect for portability in the summer. Rounding out the bottled selections, cans are made both with Pinot Noir and a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc. Take them camping, to the beach, music festivals, or your own backyard. Whatever your summer plans entail, these wines will help you celebrate the season that can pass by all too quickly.