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
As with nearby Australia, New Zealand has over the past century proven itself to be a superb location for producing high quality wines in vast amounts, with much of the cooler regions of both islands being used primarily for vine cultivation. New Zealand wineries are notable for their enthusiasm in regards to experimentation, and for utilizing modern technologies and methods to make the most of the imported grape varietals which flourish in the rich, fertile soils and oceanic climate. In recent years, it has been the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines which have gained the most attention, as a result of their smoky character and ability to carry the mineral rich nature of the terroir they grow in. Changing consumer interests have brought about a considerable rise in the production of organic and sustainable wines in New Zealand, of which again, the Sauvignon Blanc varietals are leading the way in regards to excellence, flavor and overall character.