New Zealand is increasingly producing some top specialty white wines, writes JOHN SAKER.
THE CATEGORY WE CURRENTLY call “specialty whites” has traditionally comprised a small circle of entries. This year it was much larger than usual, with a total of 50 wines at the tasting. There are several reasons for this, the rst being we decided to bring viognier into the fold for 2015. While the country has had some success with viognier over the past decade, it remains a very small player, accounting for just 0.4 per cent of New Zealand’s total vineyard area. The other main contributor to the tasting’s expansion has been the relatively rapid rise of a couple of other lesser-known white varieties: gruner veltliner and albarino. The former has found a home in several wineries over the past few years, and nine of these labels were represented at this tasting. The latter has also established a small but enthusiastic presence, especially in Gisborne (see page 124).
“It’s great to see this broadening of the varieties grown in New Zealand,” said panel chair John Belsham. “At this early stage, a number of them look very promising.”
The NZ chardonnay tasting panel also reviewed the NZ specialty whites.
Marlborough’s Forrest wines has become a pioneer in the specialty white wine sector and the great white grape of the Loire Valley has found itself a loving home here. This is a fascinating medium-dry, lively wine – goat’s curd, nettle and grapefruit characters cling to a round spine of acid and leave a lasting impression. It will also age gracefully.