New Zealand is divided into ten major wine-producing regions, each of which is characterized by high diversity of climate and soil. The differences in climate can be explained by the change of the date of collection of Chardonnay wine regions in the warmer and more humid in the north of Northland, Auckland and Gisborne, this grape is harvested at the end of February or early March, while in Central Otago, the vineyard to the south of the world, Chardonnay is harvested at the end of April, a difference of 6-7 weeks. New Zealand is made up of two large islands that separate the wine regions: the North Island, including six regions of production and the South Island which includes four.
The first vines were planted in New Zealand in Northland in 1819. Northland has the warmest climate in the country, which explains why the popularity of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay, the three most planted grape in the region. The vineyards are planted on clay soils and shallow sandy clay and volcanic subsoils, are located primarily in the plains or on slopes, very light.
The traditional districts of production of the Auckland region are Henderson, Kumeu and Huapai to the northwest of the city of Auckland. For the hot and humid climate, the varieties most used are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay, but also the Sauvignon blanc, Semillon and other white grape varieties are planted . The region extends over 556 hectares of shallow soils, predominantly silty and clayey.
Waikato – Bay of Planty
In these regions, the vineyards are smaller to average size (147 hectares in total), but constantly expanding. Wine production here is mainly focused on Chardonnay is important but also the production of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon blanc. The vineyards in these two regions have a climate warm enough in relation to the average of New Zealand and have heavy soils of silt and clay subsoils.
With 2197 hectares of vineyards, Gisborne is the third extension to New Zealand vineyard. Located in the most eastern part of the country, is also the vineyard to the east of the world and the vines receive the first irradiation of sunshine every day. The coastal plains, protected on the west by a mountain range, they receive a high number of hours of sunshine every day. The soil tends to be silty alluvial or volcanic sandy subsoil with moderate fertility. The Chardonnay occupies about half of the vineyards so that the region is called “the capital of Chardonnay” of New Zealand. The surfaces are mainly planted white grape varieties leaving red grapes no more than 10% of the cultivated area.
This wine-growing region has about 4945 hectares of vineyards, ranking as the second largest wine-producing region of the country and with a winemaking tradition of over 100 years. The topography varies greatly and the great diversity of soil types produces a considerable range of different styles of wine. The Chardonnay grape is the most planted, but the strong radiation allows the cultivation of vines characterized by late maturation such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, along with early ripening grape varieties such as Pinot Noir.
The Pinot Noir grape is the most planted and certainly most famous of the region; notoriety stemming from being a production region is extremely dynamic and quality-oriented. Officially it is the sixth region for extension of vineyards (882 hectares) but, while limited in terms of annual production, however, make a great contribution to the quality reputation of New Zealand wines.
And the eighth New Zealand wine region by extension but here we produce wines of great elegance. The vineyards cover an area of 861 hectares and is the only vineyard on the island to be located on the west coast. Protected by heavy rainfall from the mountains, this region benefits from a harsh climate but still tempered by the proximity of the sea. The producers of Nelson specialize in varieties that are well suited to cool temperatures: Chardonnay, Sauvignin blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir account for over 80% of the wine-growing area in the region.
Marlborough is the most important wine-growing region of New Zealand, with 16,787 hectares planted to vine equivalent to 52% of the total vineyard across the country. Situated in the north-east of the South Island, this region produces 67% of all the grapes prdotta in the country. Most of the vineyard is planted along the coast of Wairau, for some years the cultivation of the vine is also extended to the southeast where the climate is much colder. The soil is often poor of elements and a low fertility rate, the components that make the wines produced here aromas very interesting. The soils irrigated and a little ‘more fertile are suitable for the production of herbaceous wines. Marlborough is one of the most radiated by the sun and dried throughout New Zealand, is characterized by warm days and cool nights and a rather long and dry autumn which allows the grapes to ripen very slowly developing many flavors. The strong temperature between day and night is also a key factor in the production of wines with a unique and inimitable: Pinot Noir, climatic conditions of this type, develops a strong concentration of anthocyanins that make the wines derivatives of a color deep red. When we started producing wine in the region of Marlborough in 1973, it was difficult to predict the success that went on this region and that its products could become twenty years later the most prestigious of the entire country. The region is known throughout the world for its Sauvignon blanc unique character: typically arise bursting with hints of tropical fruit with a sharp attack due to acidity, all with a great balance between freshness and body of the wine . Chardonnay is in New Zealand generally drier and lighter than other countries in the developing world aromas of melon and citrus while the Riesling of this region can be really amazing but are very difficult to find outside the country for the low quantities produced. The region also produce significant with traditional method sparkling wines that are highly appreciated.
Canterbury – Waipara
Canterbury, which has 1,760 hectares of vineyards, consists of two main areas of wine production: the plains around the city of Christchurch, where the grapes are grown since 1970, and the newest area of the Waipara Valley. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes are grown and together represent more than 60% of the wine-growing area of the region, the Riesling grape is the third most present followed by Sauvignon blanc.
Central Otago is the southernmost wine-growing region in the world and altitude greater than the whole of New Zealand. It ‘also the only wine region New Zealand to have a continental climate with large daily and seasonal temperature changes that favor the development of strong scents, deep color and great structure to the wines. Centra Otago is a wine region in young booming and record today for the seventh vineyard extension (1561 ha) across the country. The Pinot Noir is by far the dominant grape, followed by a good presence of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling then to follow.
The Quality System
The quality system of New Zealand does not provide strict rules on the cultivation of grapes and wine production, there are no indications on the grape varieties that can be planted it on the areas in which the different varieties can be grown. They are not even provided information on yields per hectare it on the timing of maturation of the wines before they can be placed on the market. The rules laid down by the system only regulate aspects of wine labeling and, therefore, certain rules of winemaking. The quality system of production is regulated by the New Zealand Food Act and Food Regulations which provides as follows:
- If the grape variety is stated on the label, at least 75% of the wine must be made from the grape variety mentioned.
- In the event that two varieties of grapes are included in the label, they must be listed in order of importance. In the case of a wine label discloses the word “Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc” means that Chardonnay is present in quantities greater than Sauvignon Blanc.
- If the label shows the area of origin of the wine, or the district or region, at least 75% of the wine must come from the area mentioned.
It should be noted that at present the production of mono-varietal wines New Zealanders, those products with a single variety of grape, are typically composed of about 85-100% of the same variety, a far greater extent than required by law.