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On the north-easterly tip of New Zealand's South Island, we find the beautiful region of Marlborough, home to some of the New World's finest white wines and dozens of quality vineyards. The region itself has been producing their award winning white wines – most commonly made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes – in large numbers since the 1970s, and is today widely recognized as being home to some of the best examples of both modern and traditional styles of Sauvignon Blanc wines. The region benefits from its dry and hot climate, and the cooling oceanic breezes which help the grapes there reach full ripeness. One of the key features of the Marlborough region is the fact that whilst the days are generally very hot, the nights are cold, thus allowing the vintners who work in the region to considerably extend the grapes' ripening period and encourage much more expression of flavor and terroir.
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.
Petite Sirah was first brought from France to America in the 1880s. It later went on to become one of the only grapes to make it through the devastating Phylloxera virus in the 1890s, both World Wars, and the Great Depression. During Prohibition, it was a main ingredient used to make sacramental wines. In fact, through the 1960s it was a major blending grape in a number of the finest wines produced in California.
By itself, a bottle of Petite Sirah usually has no problem making a quick impression on consumers. With a large amount of natural color and tannins, wines made with the grape commonly feature intensive sweet fruit characteristics like fresh raspberry or blackberry jam, black pepper spice, and plenty of backbone or structure.
There are a number of different styles available. Some concentrate on highlighting fresh, fruity flavors; others are bigger, more voluptuous; and it keeps going up the ladder until you reach the powerful, more machismo-style category.