Everything you ever wanted to know about New Zealand wine

Photo courtesy of wines of New Zealand

Photo courtesy of wines of New Zealand

I admit it, I’m not an expert when it comes to New Zealand wine, despite having enjoyed a fair number of bottles over the years.

I love the intensity of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, even if the style has become a little clichéd – and I wouldn’t kick the Pinot Noirs of Martinborough or Central Otago out of bed either. Even if, at least for me, they rarely achieve the classicism or elegance that is claimed. Rieslings and other white varietals can also be stunningly good.

But so far, my experience only goes skin deep. This Sunday 23rd March 2014 at 5pm CET is the perfect opportunity to learn more, by talking to a group of 10 wine producers whilst tasting their wines. The tasting is at the trade-only ProWein fair in Düsseldorf, but we want to open up the event to anyone online who’s a fan of kiwi wine, or just wants to know more.

All you have to do is tweet to me (@simonjwoolf) or @nzwine with your question – and tag it with #kiwiwinesunday – or if you don’t like twitter, add a comment to this post and I’ll make sure the question gets raised on Sunday. We will be online between 17:00 – 18:30, responding live to questions and generally broadcasting what we discover – while tasting an excellent selection of what the country has to offer (see the list below).

I’ve been thinking about what questions I want to ask – and here are some of them:

Are you worried about issues of oversupply, as 2014 is looking like such a bumper harvest? (15% up on the already impressive 2013 yields).


Does everyone still love screwcaps?


Are you sick of the world thinking NZ is just about Sauvignon Blanc?


New Zealand winemakers are noticeable by their absence from London’s two “natural” wine fairs (Raw Fair and the Real Wine fair). Is the movement to lower intervention and all things organic/biodynamic/low sulphur not established here?



Photo courtesy of wines of New Zealand

Here’s a list of the confirmed wineries who are participating in the tasting and question & answer session (more TBC):

Giesen Wines (Marlborough)

Ohau Wines (Ohau – “New Zealand’s newset wine region”)

Craggy Range (Hawkes Bay)

Rockburn (Central Otago)

Gladstone Vineyard (Wairarapa)

Seresin (Marlborough – A personal favourite, and one of very few producers who’ve convinced me to love oaked Sauvignon Blanc)

Man O’War (Waiheke Island)

Villa Maria (Marlborough)

Spy Valley (Marlborough)


More information:


New Zealand Wines


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    • Paola Tich

      I believe Seresin have been experimenting with some no added sulphur wines, which is exciting.

      Pyramid Valley do great stuff too and were at Real last year. Sustainability seems to be NZ wine’s big thing and it would be good to understand how they think that translates to consumers.

      Marlborough Savvy B seems to be increasing in price (in UK), and a greater focus on single vineyard wines to show different terroirs (eg Yealands) – will this win new/different audiences or will it alienate loyal followers?

      Apart from Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, Riesling and Pinot Gris, are there other grapes that New Zealand sees a future for? Villa Maria’s been trying Arneis, Framingham does a delicious Montepulciano.

      • Interesting points. Yes, I heard great things about Pyramid Valley. Seresin are at the session on Sunday so will ask about the low/no sulphur stuff . . .

    • Very little NZ wine on the natural front here in the states, NY at least.

      Though in the last year, especially with Rootstock, Australia is moving hard into the natural/artisanal category here. And they are doing it smartly–a well executed fair, getting people like Alice Feiring and Pascaline from Rouge Tomate down there as well as as buyers from influential shops.

      I bet NZ could and I bet they have the winemakers—the question is why aren’t they interested in our market?

      • Certainly a burning question for me too – but we have to remember that in terms of global production by volume, NZ is a tiny player (producing less than 1% of the world’s wine). This must surely have an effect on visibility worldwide.

        • True

          But today with a handful of creative boutique distributors and direct importing by shops, more and more tiny producers from all over are finding it to be the smart move to give a small piece of their production to export.

          I think that is way of the future.

          Have fun with the tasting.

          • Thanks! And if you chance to be online tomorrow between 17:00 – 18:30 CET (I guess that’s around lunchtime in NYC), please do join the conversation online. #kiwiwinesunday

    • Villa Maria and Spy Valley have now joined the tasting tomorrow, so added them to the article . . .

    • Antiqua Tours

      I wish I had a question to ask. Living in Italy doesn’t give a lot of oppurtunioty to taste NZ wines outside of WSET classes. I would like for them to have better distribution in Europe!

      • Well, that is a question in itself. Always going to be difficult in a strong wine producing country like Italy I suspect – and NZ doesn’t produce *that* much, in global terms.

    • czerwoneczybiale

      Hi Simon, I move to New Zealand in the beginning of this year and I was happy to discover that there were tons of organic/biodynamic/low intervention wineries. Pyramid Valley is one of the best examples (their orange Pinot Blanc + Pinot Gris) is exceptional. Other examples are Mount Edward from Central Otago, Millton from Gisborne (they have stunnign Chenin Blanc) and Rock Ferry, which produce super amusing bubbles and a bunch of great still wines.
      During big Pinot tasting I had a chance to talk to the producers and many of them are already organic or are intensively thinking about converting to it. My guess would be that New Zealand people are very eco and organic oriented (on the shop shelf I am able to fund much more organic stuff here then I was in Europe), so they take it for granted?

      • Hi,

        Yes, I discovered Pyramid Valley and a few others (supernatural wines for example) at this year’s orange wines festival in Izola. I had no idea anyone was doing crazy stuff like that in NZ, and it’s good to see.

        Actually Pyramid Valley’s “orange” wine was my favourite NZ orange so far (see this post for details http://palatepress.com/2015/05/wine/any-color-you-like-as-long-as-its-orange/ ).

        Change is a’ comin’ as they say!