• Annina Francis

Why is there so much Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand?



New Zealand Wairau Valley by tjabeljan licensed under CC BY 2.0

Sauvignon blanc is known as the emblematic varietal of New Zealand, but why did it get to be that way?

There are many household names that are associated with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and one the most renowned ones is Cloudy Bay.


Source: us.cloudybay.co.nz

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc was the wine that put New Zealand on the map. Unlike other wine countries, New Zealand is very particular due to its climate and geographical position. As a matter of fact New Zealand is the southernmost wine country, situated in the middle of the southern Pacific Ocean between the tropic of Capricorn and the south pole. This location in the southern hemisphere means that just like its Australian counterpart, New Zealand's timetable for harvesting follows a very different rhythm which can sometimes be to a disadvantage.

The harvesting period can start just as early as March and finish around May. This earlier timetable for harvesting means that often the vintage is only ready for commercialisation around September and October, when the majority of sales usually takes place during the summer months for the northern hemisphere.

Its closeness to the ocean also makes it an interesting region as no vineyard can ever be more than 130 km from the sea. This allows for a homogeneous ripening and the cool climate brought on by the southern pacific sea creates a long ripening period, best for creating intense complex flavours that are so characteristic of New Zealand wines. This cool climate also brings on a lot of acidity which has helped create the uniqueness of the Sauvignon Blanc.

Just like all other wine regions around the world, New Zealand also suffers from problems that are unique to the climate and biodiversity. As a matter of fact their vineyards suffer from birds picking the grapes off the vines. In order to counter this occurrence they have proceeded to putting nets around their vines which makes for an interesting sight when visiting these wineries.


Te Whau Vineyard - Photo taken by Jameson Fink licensed under CC BY 2.0

Marlborough is the most widely known wine regions in New Zealand. Situated on the top of the South Island Marlborough is home to 70% of the entire production of New Zealand wine and 80% of New Zealand's Sauvignon Blanc production.

They have made a name for themselves by specializing in this varietal.

Even though New Zealand is becoming increasingly known for its Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc has remained the quintessential varietal creating with it a unique identity for its wines.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever tried Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc? What makes it so unique?

Tell me in the comments.

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