New Zealand wine regions produce a variety of wine styles from the early Cabernet Sauvignon blends in the sub-tropical wine region of Northland to the recent surge of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in the breath-taking Marlborough wine region.

New Zealand wine styles are renowned for their unique characteristics, and famous for its purity, vibrancy and intensity. The grape varieties listed below will give you some insight and history on the wines produced in New Zealand.

Blend Red Wine

Blend Wines are made from a blend of grapes rather than a single varietal. Winemakers can modify the wines characteristics by bending varietals, a more complexity process than producing a single varietal wine. Basically, the blending of grapes, whether it’s different vintages or grape types, is to add more density to the flavour and texture of a wine…

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Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is a black-skinned French wine grape variety grown mainly in Hawkes Bay and Auckland and is one of New Zealand’s more important red wine varieties. As a varietal wine, Cabernet Franc is light to medium and fruity, low in tannin with some acidity. Cabernet Franc is more often used in blends with cabernet…

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Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys a dark berry and cassis aroma.  In the past, New Zealand wineries have struggled to produce a deep dark complex Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is mainly due to the grape variety being picked before fully ripening; normally it requires a late summer heat to ripen the grapes fully.  Fortunately, with Kiwi…

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Dessert / Fortified Wine

Dessert Wines are more commonly consumed with a dessert; they can also be drunk in place of a dessert or enjoyed as a drink in their own right. Dessert wines are sweet wines; their intensity and richness make them a very specific wine drinking experience.  Unlike traditional wines, Dessert wines require additional patience and interference on the…

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Merlot

In the past New Zealand Merlot (pronounced Mare-LOW) was mainly grown as a blending variety, predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon dating back to the mid-1800s.  The blending of the two varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon structure and delicacy and Merlot lively ripe fruit, are creating elegant, yet powerfully intense, red wine blends.

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Montepulciano

Originating from Italy, Montepulciano is a red wine grape variety, globally appreciated for their soft flavours, strong colouring and gentle tannins, and best consumed in its youth and with food.  Montepulciano also responds well to blending with other varieties, most successfully Sangiovese.

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Pinot Noir

Not an easy grape to grow, Pinot Noir is the red wine grape of Burgundy and is the second most widely planted and picked grape variety in New Zealand, predominantly grown in the cooler southerly wine regions of Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, Waipara, Canterbury and Central Otago.  New Zealand yields a Pinot Noir with good colouring and…

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Rose Wine

The majority of Rose Wines are produced from a single or a blend of the red grape varietals.  The most commonly used varietals are Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Sangiovese.  Sparkling Roses are normally produced with a blend of red and white grapes.  Traditionally, the…

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Sangiovese / Dolcetto

Sangiovese is a dark-berried vine originating from Italy; it’s a thin-skinned grape that tends to linger longer on the vine, taking its time to mature.  Characteristically, Sangiovese grapes make medium to full-bodied wines with tannin structure ranging from medium-soft to firm.  Sangiovese is cherished for its high acid, firm tannins and balanced nature.

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Syrah

New Zealand Syrah has a long history dating back to the mid-1800s and is now predominantly grown in the Hawkes Bay wine region.  Syrah plantings have grown fast from a small base and with the introduction of new clones we are now seeing an improved ripening performance.  Unlike its bold Australian cousin Shiraz…

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Tempranillo

Not known for their naturally high acidity, Tempranillo is thick-skinned variety originating from Spain and Portugal.  Tempranillo means “little early one”, a name given to it by Spanish grape growers who noticed its habit of ripening early.  The Tempranillo variety has a high anthocyanin count that produces deep-coloured wines…

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Chardonnay

New Zealand Chardonnay is the third most widely planted and picked grape variety in New Zealand; it’s a full bodied white wine full of elegant, crisp fruit-laden flavours ranging from pitiless apples and lemons through to lush stone fruit, peaches and apricots.  Chardonnay is grown throughout New Zealand’s wine regions symbolising our unique terroir…

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Gewurztraminer

New Zealand Gewurztraminer can be penetratingly aromatic, with lychee, rose petals and spice aromas of ginger and cinnamon which gather in intensity on the palate giving it an exciting racy character.  Gewurztraminer is grown mainly in the North Island, namely the Gisborne wine region producing a broader textual style…

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Gruner Veltliner

Gruner Veltliner grape growing is relatively new to New Zealand with the first vines planted in Gisborne early 2000 and spreading to the southerly wine regions of Marlborough, Nelson, Waipara, Canterbury and Central Otago.  The grape originated from Eastern Europe, primarily Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic…

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Pinot Gris

New Zealand Pinot Gris has becoming increasingly fashionable, with its mouth-filling, rich and refreshing earthly stone pear and apple flavours, it’s now recognised as the third most popular white wine variety among wine drinkers.  New Zealand Pinot Gris is grown throughout the country, mainly in Marlborough…

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Riesling

Riesling is a light-skinned, aromatic grape of German origin and in recent years has become the fourth most popular white varietal planted in New Zealand with 85% being grown in the South Island wine regions of Nelson, Marlborough, Waipara Valley and Central Otago.  The cool southerly climate of the South Island with bright days…

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Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is the white wine grape variety that put Marlborough on the international wine map.  The Marlborough wine region, at the northern tip of the South Island, has the reputation as one of the great Sauvignon Blanc regions of the world.  Originating from western France, Sauvignon Blanc is now New Zealand’s

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Sparkling White Wine

New Zealand Sparkling White Wine is produced using the same traditional grape varieties and Methode Traditionelle practices used to create Champagne.  The Marlborough wine region on the northern tip of the South Island produces the majority of the countries Sparkling wine where the cool climate creates sophistication and structure with…

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Viognier

Originating from the Rhone Valley in France, Viognier (pronounced Vee-on-yay) is relatively new to New Zealand with 75% of the vines grown in the Hawkes Bay and Gisborne wine regions.  Viognier is an aromatic grape variety and is a remarkably difficult grape to grow. Viognier grapes have naturally low acidity and require a great deal of…

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