Australians have enjoyed the bold fruit-forward taste of wines made across the ditch for decades now. But for as much as we love it, the average person on the street would struggle to name more than one region at most and may not even be aware that many of the wines they enjoy come from a variety of regions all across the country, that each bring unique characteristics to their wine.
Chances are if you know anything about New Zealand wines, you know of Marlborough. This region on the north-eastern coast of the South Island put New Zealand on the map for wine lovers back in the 80s and now dominates the Sauvignon Blanc section of most bottle shops with both well known and boutique brands.
Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs are typically characterised by a pungent aroma and sharp, sometimes savoury, notes of gooseberry passion fruit and citrus. They are impressively well balanced with an abundance of mineral depth.
Heading across the water to the North Island, we find Hawkes Bay on the east coast producing a much broader range of whites and reds, thanks in large part to the diversity of climate and geology.
One of Hawkes Bay's features is the abundance of Merlots and Merlot blends that take after their Bordeaux roots with smooth and generous plum notes. They also feature stellar Pinot Gris with bold, creamy stone fruit flavours and the odd touch of almond meal.
However Hawkes Bay by no means holds a monopoly on Pinot Gris and just to the west of Marlborough, you'll find the region of Nelson growing not only exceptional Pinot Gris but a whole range of pungent, aromatic whites and reds from rich Gewürztraminers to expressive and weighty Pinot Noirs.
Nelson champions the adventurous spirit of its boutique vineyards, and the art and culture of the area make it a vital stop for sightseers.
For red lovers, there is perhaps no better region to focus on than Central Otago. Just as Marlborough is dominated by Sauvignon Blanc, Central Otago's Pinot Noir has developed a reputation for its smooth yet intense flavours, and now makes up about 80% of the wine in the region.
The last stop on our tour is Waipara Valley in North Canterbury. The geological diversity of this region makes it a great jack of all trades, producing complex and delicious Rieslings; deep, aromatic Pinot Noirs and crisp Chardonnays.
For a country whose vinicultural identity is so locked up in a single style and region, New Zealand has an impressively varied and sophisticated wine scene that spreads right across both islands. We strongly encourage you to explore these varied regions yourself, and have put together a wine bundle to help you do just that, with wines from Hawke's Bay to Nelson, Merlot to Chardonnay:
Squealing Pig Central Otago Pinot Noir: This deep, fruity red has notes of maraschino cherry and blackcurrant, framed by toasty oak.
Giesen Hawke's Bay Merlot: Perfumed plum, spice and delicious notes of mocha, a delectable smooth and supple wine.
Kamana Waipara Valley Pinot Noir: Medium-bodied but full flavoured, notes of rich cherry and plum bloom with hints of spice.
Kono Nelson Pinot Gris: This Pinot Gris is fruit-driven and a full expression of the variety, characterised by pear-drop, red apple and touches of spice.
Villa Maria Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc: The classic Awatere aromas jump out of the glass, such as lemongrass, jalapeño peppers and fresh herbs. The cool climate in the Awatere Valley is influenced by Mt Tapuae-o-uenuku and the cool alpine winds and fresh sea breezes protect the natural acidity in this wine.
Ara Marlborough Chardonnay: A traditional style Chardonnay showing rich, generous fruit with a creamy character and clean lees complexity. Enticing toasty lees flavour with an oatmeal influence.