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Monday, May 6, 2013

New Zealand's Hawke's Bay Wines

The Gimlett Gravels terroir
We visited New Zealand’s oldest wine region last year on our reconnaissance trip.  Established in the 1850’s, Hawke’s Bay is also the country’s second largest wine district.   This is premium red wine country.  More than 80% of New Zealand’s Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc, Merlot and Syrah are grown in Hawke’s Bay, but the area also offers some stunning whites such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.   Like all fine wine producing areas in the world, this district is all about terroir.

Located on roughly the same latitude as Bordeaux (but opposite hemispheres), Hawke’s Bay has a similar maritime climate as its French counterpart.   But there’s another important similarity.  One of the sub-districts of Hawke’s Bay offers a unique gravel soil.   Called the Gimblett Gravels, these soils were deposited when the local river changed its course during a huge flood in 1867.  Those of you who have visited Bordeaux’s Medoc with Wine-Knows, have seen similar gravel-like soil, a result of erosion from the Pyrenees with its debris carried down over centuries by rivers.   The stones, which act to radiate heat, provide an important respite from the chilly marine weather in both countries. 
Located on New Zealand’s north island just a few miles from the sea, the Hawke’s Bay wine district boasts one of the most enchanting towns in the country.  Napier is an architectural & gem.  Destroyed by an earthquake in the early 1900’s, the town was rebuilt at the height of the Art Deco period and its downtown is replete with Art Deco buildings.
Favorite producers?  Listed in alpha order, here’s the scoop on our faves:
  • Bilanica
  • Craggy Range
  • Te Mata
  • Trinity Hills
  • Unison (we hosted the winemaker from Unison in our home last August for a Winemaker’s Dinner which many of our San Diego clients attended). 
Those of you coming with us in March 2014 to New Zealand will be visiting all of these wineries, two of which will include dinners with their winemaker.  

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for taking the time to discuss this. I do know this was a very interesting post thanks for writing it!

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