Anthony Rose: 'Is it not true that Marlborough sauvignon blanc has been the success story of the decade? Well, yes and no'

The 7.1 earthquake that struck Christchurch on Saturday 4 September was merciful in sparing lives. The hammer blow was as much to the psyche of this charming rural city on New Zealand's South Island as the substantial damage caused to roads and buildings. Yet while earthquakes and hobbits (The Hobbit is to be filmed there) are still hot news, the parlous state of New Zealand's wine industry was the first topic my taxi driver mentioned, when I arrived this month as a guest of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network. "The wine industry's in deep trouble," were cabbie Rob McKee's words.

Surely not, I hear you ask. The only country with an average retail bottle price of close to £6 in the UK, is New Zealand. And is not Marlborough sauvignon blanc the Success Story of the decade? Well, yes and no. Like other rapid achievers, the temptation to cash in has been irresistible. After investors threw money at vineyards looking to make a quick Kiwi dollar, along came a bloated, indifferent vintage in 2008. The fallout has been a glut with tumbling wine prices, vineyard land prices slashed and a hundred-odd vineyards for sale.

New Zealanders, however, are nothing if not resilient, as post-earthquake reconstruction shows, with 100,000 quake claims being processed and damaged infrastructure restored. When overtures were first made to Christchurch to join the Great Wine Capitals Global Network as the gateway to South Island's wine tourism, progress was slow. The earthquake was the catalyst that galvanised the wine industry to get behind the idea and join in hosting a wine conference – New Zealand Wine 2010. What struck you there was how confidently the wine industry is re-building itself. From a one-trick sauvignon blanc pony, a broader palette of grapes matched to the right location is emerging and superb wines resulting.

Marlborough is still number one for sauvignon blanc as wines such as the aromatic 2009 Yealands Estate Clearwater Cove Sauvignon Blanc, £9.99, Sainsbury's, attest, an aromatic white whose green-pepper aromas are underpinned by gooseberry-fool flavours. To Hawkes Bay's reputation for Bordeaux varieties, some impressive syrahs are being added. Craggy Range's 2008 Gimblett Gravels Syrah, £17.99, waitrosewinedirect, displays a fine peppery fragrance, its opulent red-fruit flavours infused with northern Rhône-like spice characters. Aromatic whites such as pinot gris are up-and-coming in regions such as Nelson, where Neudorf's 2009 Maggie's Block Pinot Gris, £16.99, Amps Fine Wines (01832 273502), shows an aromatic fresh pear and quince character.

The region making the biggest waves for pinot noir is Central Otago, although Martinborough, Marlborough and Canterbury are in pursuit. This beautiful southern region comprises a number of sub-regions each contributing different characters to a style that's more reliable and readily lovable than red burgundy, if not yet quite as complex at the highest level. There are too many great wines not to return to the subject in more detail, but for a well-priced typical example, there's nothing not to like in the raspberry juiciness of the 2008 Stockman's Station Pinot Noir, £10.49, Tesco, or the perfumed 2008 Rockburn Pinot Noir 2008, £17.99, Laithwaites. For more on New Zealand and the Great Wine Capitals Global Network, see anthonyrosewine.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project