There's more to New Zealand than sauvignon blanc | Alistair Gibson

Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Grigio 2018, East CoastVilla Maria Private Bin Pinot Grigio 2018, East Coast
Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Grigio 2018, East Coast
It may well have been Dry January but for the wine trade it’s the start of the major wine tastings. New Zealand is one of the trade bodies who host their annual trade event to showcase new vintages, and very often new producers, with a view to what we may see on the shelves and on restaurant wine lists this year.

New Zealand maybe ‘the land of the long white cloud’ but in wine terms it has very much become the land of everyone’s favourite sauvignon blanc.

If I am honest, I have become a little jaded with Marlborough sauvignon blanc, although it appears UK wine consumers are still in love with it.

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However, if you need to refresh your palate, here are a few other Kiwi white wines to show you there is so much more on offer.

Left Field Albarino 2020Left Field Albarino 2020
Left Field Albarino 2020

Pinot grigio is one of the other go-to varieties right now – from Alsace pinot gris-style or the simpler Italian pinot grigio-style.

Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Grigio 2018, East Coast (Waitrose £7.99 on offer from £10.99 until February 18) is more in the style of the latter and, while on offer, represents really great value for money.

This is very fresh with notes of pear skin, melon, and quince on the nose, followed by a nicely textured palate with just a hint of sweetness on the finish. I would serve this with a chicken salad.

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Left Field Albariño 2018, Gisborne (Waitrose £10.79) is a great example of New Zealand producers’ willingness to plant and experiment with lesser known grape varieties with an eye on the future.

Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Fermented nv Greystone BTSauvignon Blanc Barrel Fermented nv Greystone BT
Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Fermented nv Greystone BT

Albariño may currently be a very fashionable grape, particularly on restaurant wine lists, but the reality is it is rarely seen outside Galicia, north-west Spain.

On reflection, many vineyard areas of New Zealand would seem a natural home for albariño, with their cool, maritime climates, similar to Galicia, or Portugal’s vinho verde region.

This is a little fruitier than many Spanish examples but it is absolutely delicious and would work really well with some fresh seafood and the first rays of spring sunshine.

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Greystone Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Waipara (Hermitage Cellars £14.25, £15.99, £16.15) has appeared in this column before but it remains one of the most notable wines I’ve tasted from New Zealand in the past year.

Not only is this a different take on New Zealand sauvignon blanc, it is also organic.

It is entirely naturally fermented in old oak barrels, which adds both texture and richness to the wine.

The bouquet offers apple, grapefruit, green herb and some biscuit notes, followed by a mouth-filling palate with some weight and a long, textured, detailed finish.

This is gorgeous wine and would work well with smoked fish (see below), scallops, or white meats in a cream sauce.