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
When it comes to New World wines, few countries can compete with Europe quite as well as New Zealand, where modern techniques and technologies are allowing wineries to get the very best results from the wide range of imported grape varieties which flourish there. The warm, sunny climate coupled with brisk oceanic winds and remarkably fertile volcanic soils produce grapes of exceptional quality, and New Zealand wines are notable for their ability to carry the terroir they are grown on into the bottle. Whilst the Sauvignon Blanc wines are probably the most widely exported and popular to come out of new Zealand, fantastic results have been produced from the Bordeaux style wines made in the Auckland region, and the Pinot Noir wines of Central Otago. These Pinot Noir wines are far more fleshy than their Burgundy counterparts, and are probably best enjoyed when young, and bursting with the fruit flavors they carry so well.