Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Kiwi Industry Is Ripe with Success

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Kiwi Industry Is Ripe with Success

Article excerpt

Byline: By Helen Savage

New Zealand doesn't make a lot of wine, but it's very good.

Although it has three times as many vineyards in production as it did 10 years ago, and the increase shows no sign of slowing, the Kiwis still make just 0.3% of the world's wine and, despite exporting over 40% of their harvest to the UK, this fills only 1.5% of the British market.

Given this relatively modest profile, New Zealand has made a huge impact on the British wine scene. For example, say "Sauvignon Blanc" and most wine buffs think straight away of New Zealand ( and the Marlborough region in particular, despite the fact the French have made lakes more of it for centuries (some of which is very good).

And who convinced us screw caps for bottles were a good thing and not just a cheap dodge? New Zealanders, who've led the way in trying to banish the blight of corked wine.

The story of Sauvignon Blanc there has been told many times. It was planted very much as an experimental afterthought by Montana in their new vineyard in Marlborough, South Island in the early 1970s and burst on the world stage with some spectacularly fragrant bottles a decade later.

And it has never shown the slightest sign of a dip in popularity, despite the fact some old hands in the world wine trade shook their heads and said such a rapid success would end in tears. Last year New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc could be found in that ultimate bastion of chauvinism, a French supermarket.

The style of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has slowly evolved over years. It is not so aggressively herbaceous and gooseberry as it once seemed. Richer, spicier, more complex and (tropical) fruitier flavours can now be found.

A few growers age it in oak barrels to give more complexity. And there's no longer a single `Marlborough style' (if there ever was). Different parts of what's grown to become New Zealand's biggest wine region are evolving different and distinctive nuances.

Nevertheless, Montana, who started the craze off, still have a canny understanding of what turns on British wine-lovers and will continue to make sure UK trade is well supplied by zesty, slightly herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc ( a little drier, less obviously fruity than that for the US market, which is set to take over as New Zealand's number one point of sales. …

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