Some of the wine Australian’s love to drink most comes from one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand. The natural home of New Zealand’s beautiful dry, crisp, fruit-driven sauvignon blanc is Marlborough. Covering the north east corner of the South Island, it is one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. Steep hills, cloaked in forest or covered in pasture, fall into the Cook Strait. Clear rivers meander through broad valleys where the soils are deep and porous. This is the region that produces 80% of New Zealand’s wines, much of them exported overseas.
The magic of Marlborough's geography
The region’s geography explains much about why the wines from Marlborough are so good. The high hills and river flats offer a range of altitudes on which the grapes can be grown, the majority being planted on the deep alluvial soils of the river plains. The soils vary from alluvial free-draining to heavier clay loam soils around the southern hills at Cloudy Bay, a combination of silt and loam. In all, there are 87 different identifiable soil types in the region, something that helps shape the flavour of the grapes. With so much diversity of flavour to work with, it allows Marlborough winemakers the ability to craft exceptional wines. They also have the climate on their side. Long peninsulas of land jut out into Cook Strait and great sounds of seawater penetrate deep into the countryside allowing that mass of water to temper the weather in the region. This sees Marlborough as a cool climate wine region providing grapes with a long slow, flavour intensifying ripening period with average summer temperatures around 24°C and nights no cooler than 10°C.
The wines of Marlborough
While the region is known worldwide for its sauvignon blanc, Marlborough’s cool climate is also perfect for producing classic French cold climate varietals chardonnay, pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. A classic example of this variety and quality is OTU Estate, situated on unique, sea-swept terroir set at the edge of the Southern Ocean, where the Otuwhero River runs through the lower valleys of Marlborough. Here chief winemaker Jeff Clarke makes the definitive Marlborough style OTU Classic Sauvignon Blanc (191650) with aromas of passionfruit, lime zest and passionfruit. The 2018 Pinot Noir (191653) is a savoury wine with earthy, mushroomy notes nuanced with luscious strawberry, ripe red plums and plush cherries. Winemakers often take grapes from other areas within a region and OTU’s Music Bay Rose (191652) is a lighter bush pink wine made with grapes from the Hawkes Bay area. It is a wine perfect for quaffing, and delicious with light summer dishes with its delicious notes of raspberries, strawberries and cream.
With such diversity of offer, it is possible to satisfy many different tastes in wine without leaving the Marlborough region.
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