Have you ever found yourself standing in front of a wine selection not knowing what to choose? You might choose a classic wine, such as Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or Pouilly Fumé. Fear not, it happens to everyone else too, all the time.

The array of wine available is staggering and far exceeds our ability to recall. Our limited recall means that we often select international grapes from classic regions, which we may have tried before.

New Zealand offers many fantastic wines to fill your glass with beyond Sauvignon Blanc. (Photo by Jemimah Gray on Unsplash)

Yet, winegrowing regions often have great wines that get overlooked because they are made in a different style, like still wine from Champagne, or from different grapes, like red Sancerre made from Pinot Noir. VinoVoss can stop you from missing out by spilling the tea on great wines that often get overlooked starting today. Explore the possibilities of New Zealand beyond Sauvignon Blanc.

Sensational Syrah From The Seaside

The name "Syrah" is used in New Zealand to distinguish the local style from the richer, fuller style of "Shiraz" made in neighboring Australia. The North Island region of Hawke’s Bay is home to 75% of New Zealand’s Syrah plantings.

Lighter in body and alcohol than the sometimes jammy Australian versions, Hawke’s Bay Syrah exhibits a pure blackberry fruit expression with lifted floral notes. Its transparent character is made even more appealing by the fact that it is often well-priced.

Te Mata makes a very consistent entry point for exploration, while both Te Mata and Craggy Range make standout high-end examples for those who want only the very best.  


Cool Climate Chardonnay Without Burgundian Prices

Burgundy is the ancestral home of Chardonnay, and Burgundian Chardonnay provides the yardstick against which all other Chardonnay wines are measured. Unfortunately, the continued rise of Burgundy prices has seen the region’s wines become almost irrelevant to the average wine drinker.

New Zealand, along with South Africa, parts of Australia and California’s Central Coast and Napa Valley are making similarly elegant styles of Chardonnay. They often offer much more concentration, complexity, and overall quality in the glass for significantly less than the equivalent quality in Burgundy. For this reason, New Zealand Chardonnay should not be overlooked.

The style leans towards the modern Australian one. Slightly reductive, but with typical New Zealand purity of fruit which is so inviting that new oak use tends to be minimal. The benchmark is Kumeu River, not far from Auckland.


The Remarkable Versatility Of Pinot Gris

Like it often is in its native France, despite being grown in Champagne, the Loire and Alsace, Pinot Gris from New Zealand is overlooked. Its linear acid structure and stone and tropical fruit expression make it a great choice for those who enjoy Chardonnay but seek a wine without obvious oak or other winemaking inputs.

Pinot Gris is a flexible variety. It can be made in dry and gently off-dry styles, which are perfect for aromatic, Asian-influenced dishes with a touch of heat. It can also be picked later, when its skins develop a copper taint, and made into skin contact wine styles.

In Central Otago, Yoshiaki Sato, a former Japanese banker who apprenticed at both Felton Road and Mount Edward, now makes a fantastically textured example with a month of skin contact from his certified organic vineyards. The extreme versatility of Pinot Gris means that once tried, one can never really tire of it.


Sticking to the Classics

If you're inclined to stick with classic Sauvignon Blanc wines from the Loire Valley or the United States, numerous leading producers are crafting fantastic wines from Marlborough, New Zealand, or from Pessac-Léognan in France, characterized by high acidity and notes of bell pepper or freshly cut grass.

Internationally, a wide variety of dry white wines are produced, featuring an array of grape varieties that await discovery.

What Will Your Next Glass Be?

New Zealand had even more options that we have been able to include here. This is only a jumping-off point for your next discovery. On that note, what will your next New Zealand wine be?

Matthew Cocks

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