Varietal: Chenin Blanc
Originating in France yet now grown in many parts of the New World, Chenin Blanc is one of the most versatile and highly regarded white wine grape varietals on earth. These green skinned grapes hold a relatively high acid content, and as such can be used for making still white wines of exceptional quality, as well as superb sparkling wines (such as the CrÃ©mant wines of the Loire Valley) and extremely aromatic dessert wines. Their natural transparency means that they are a fine grape for expressing their terroir in the bottle, and winemakers often experiment with this varietal to coax unusual and intense flavors from the grapes, such as allowing the development of noble rot on the fruit in order to make sweet and viscous wines of a unique character.
In eastern New Zealand, the wine region of Gisborne has been producing many of the country's most characterful and flavorful white wines for over a century. The warm climate, volcanic soils and crystal clear mountain waters which feed the vineyards combine to create wines of true character and elegance, and allow the vintners to produce high quality wines perfectly formed for expressing their excellent terroir. The region is most commonly associated with fine, imported white wine grapes, and as such, the vast majority of wines coming out of Gisborne are made using the best Riesling, Chardonnay and Viognier grapes of the year. However, the result boom the New Zealand wine industry has enjoyed means that Gisborne vintners are beginning to expand their portfolios and produce wines of a greater variety, made from many different grapes.
Country: New Zealand
New Zealand is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse countries in the world, and the wines which are produced there are a fine representation of this diversity and overall quality. With beautifully long and warm summers, a brisk oceanic climate and mile upon mile of gently sloping mountainsides, the vineyards which have sprung up there over the past century have brought about truly fantastic results, with wine now contributing a considerable amount to the economy of the country. In recent years, New Zealand wines have won some of the most prestigious awards available in the wine world, with most of the lauded wineries coming from the Auckland region, where there has been considerable effort to replicate the finest wines of the Bordeaux region of France. The Bordeaux grape varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec) all flourish in the mineral rich soil of the region, and the results have been outstanding, marking New Zealand a strong contender for finest New World wine country.