New Zealand is almost like a second home for me. I lived more than 10 years in French Polynesia so it's quite easy to travel ! While little Frenchies were going to Spain or to the UK, I was packing my luggage and flying to Hawaii or New Zealand. It's the closest : 5 hours flight with sometimes a stop at Rarotonga Island ! Moreover Air New Zealand is a great company and it's also a pleasure to fly with them. But now that I'm living in Bordeaux, it's more difficult to go back in New Zealand. To be sincere, I think I have been more than 10 times at Kiwi Land ! So I just have to remember my good memories in order to travel ! However I feel like a call, the return one. Like a necessity to come back in this peaceful place...
Why am I talking about New Zealand ? Chloe&Wines is now a travel agency ? Not really, but if you need a guide to walk in the green valleys, to climb the mountains or to run on the long beaches, I'm your woman ! No, I'm talking about NZ because first I've been there and it's always better to talk about what you know and secondly because wines are absolutely amazing ! Fasten your seatbelts, we are about to land at the Maoris country !
'The land is a mother that never dies' Maori Proverb
Haere Mai in Auckland ! Welcome ! Lots of people think that Auckland is the capital city of New Zealand but in fact it’s Wellington which is in the south of north Island while Auckland is in the north of south Island ! Are you still following me? Auckland is a megalopolis, a harbour, a cosmopolitan and very British city ! New Zealand is part of Commonwealth (53 independant countries which were British colonies) and has still a very Anglo-Saxon attitude which is really exotic in the middle of the Pacific area. Then, you will land in Auckland, you will rent a car (yes, you are adventurer and independant) and you will drive down to south because in the north you (just) have wonderful landscapes (but it’s quite everywhere), swated lemurs on the roads, Kaoris (sacred maoris trees) and also the meeting between Tasman See and Pacific Ocean. So lets go to the south !
New Zealand is green! There are sheeps, cows, seals, kiwis (fruits and birds) and people are nice. Supermarkets are amazing with fresh products and famous british pies (yumi) ! Atmosphere is more than cool and life seems to be synonymous of hollidays ! But in fact earth under your feet is boiling ! Indeed, there are plenty of volcanic areas, acid lakes, geysers, fumaroles, sulfur canyons and even more nice stuffs like hot water Springs or natural mud bath.
If you want to see a little bit of the wonderful landscapes of New Zealand, watch the Lord of the Rings movie. In the south, you have also nice discoveries to do like visiting a glowworm cave (Waitomo Caves), fishing and then cooking the shells on the beach, surfing, watching kiwi birds at night (Rainbow Spring Kiwi Wildlife Park in Rotorua), seing a sheep show (Agrodome in Rotorua too), visiting museums which put forward the Maori culture (Te Papa Museum in Wellington)... Well, lots of adventures ! But there is something even better: wine !
New Zealand is part of the ‘New World’. We criticize a lot, we denigrate sometimes… Rightly or wrongly. But these two pacific islands are apart. The wine is unique, refined and pure. So here is what you have to know about New Zealand’s wines you will find on both islands. Climate is maritime : hot and wet in the north Island, cool and sunny in the south Island. There is a lot of rain which can be a problem but all the vineyards are on the right bank, near the ocean. Then the coastal wind allows to protect the vineyards against rots. New Zealand is also leader in canopy management. The white type of grappes are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Müller thurgau, Riesling and Pinot Gris. And the black grappes are Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
Among the regions, you will find very pure expressions of Pinot Noir in Martinborough and in Central Otago. Pinot Noir is the most planted black type of grappes and is very typical in NZ with strong red fruits flavors. Marlborough, one of the most famous regions in the north of south island with a rocky soil is well known for its Sauvignon Blanc and its Chardonnay. Then, Hawke's Bay will offer nice fruity sensations with its Cabernet Sauvignon, its Merlot and its Syrah.
You will find a map at the end of the article in order to see where all these regions are .Because between the south of the north Island and the north of the south Island, we are getting lost !
Zoom on one of the best region I visited : Marlborough. Close to the city of Blenheim, in the north of the south Island, you don’t have to be afraid to drive hours in green valleys to reach this area. On one side the snowy mountains and on the other side the ocean… Blenheim is a harbour which links the south to the north Island. The other harbour just in front is Wellington: to reach it you have to sail 3 hours on a ferry. But for the moment lets stay in Marlborough (you should pronounced Ma-rrrr-le-bo-rousse), where wineries are famous and welcome you like in the Napa Valley. Sauvignon Blanc is the main type of vine (50% of New Zealand production is Sauvignon) and is very distinctive compared to what you can taste in other countries. Pepper and gooseberry are the main flavours. I will add that asparagus is often present in Sauvignon after some years. There are also a minerality, sometimes a touch of wood well integrated which gives a creamy note, green tomato, passion fruit and fresh grass hint also. Chardonnay is used to create sparkling wines and it’s also planted a lot. It’s an experimental type of grappe : easy to vinify, so a lot of thing can be try !
A little wine to taste ? Villa Maria 100% Sauvignon but also Pinot Noir !!
Hei Kona Ra !