Years ago, when “Cancer cures smoking” campaign was not so vigorously pursued, a world renowned tobacco company often advertised with the slogan, “Come to the Marlborough country … to taste the tobacco”. To some people, the right caption should have been, “Come to the Marlborough country to taste Sauvignon Blanc”.
However, it was a different country and the campaign is anyhow dead. But the fact remains that this superb wine produced in the Montana region of Marlborough in New Zealand is “Arguably the best in the world”. As a matter of fact, Sauvignon Blanc has been used in several French wine regions in AOC and Vin de Pays wines earlier.
However, the ‘New World New Zealand wine’ is mostly produced in 10 major wine growing regions in the island country. But the growth of the industry in New Zealand has been restricted.
The New Era of New Zealand Wine
It will perhaps be unfair if we escape the factors that retarded the growth of winery in New Zealand which was largely peopled by British immigrants whose favorite drinks were Beer and Spirit. Add to it the over emphasis on protein production, prohibition and temperance as well as the social habits that hardly encouraged wine drinking.
Nevertheless, things began to change as Britain entered the EEC or European Economic Community that ended the historic trade terms for New Zealand to supply meat and dairy products. Bewildered New Zealanders seeking alternative exportable merchandise soon saw a newer avenue by way of developing winery and thus began a new era in winemaking in New Zealand.
By the year 1970, quality grape vines were growing up at a fast pace and in 1977 the first production of Sauvignon Blanc saw the light of the day. And that clicked the way to an overall development of wineries in New Zealand. The zeal and enthusiasm of New Zealanders in developing newer and better varieties of grapes were also helped by the local climate and soil conditions.
The alluvial deposits that make up much of the hilly spine of New Zealand is significant to the grapes attaining full flavor while the climate further helped their healthy growth. Unlike other places at similar latitudes, here the sea moderates the weather, bringing cooler summers and milder winters while keeping the climate typically wetter. And that is precisely why the wine regions of New Zealand experience cool nights during hot summers.
The excitement from the superb production of Sauvignon Blanc soon had a far reaching effect. It paved the way for the wine industry, and there was an increased investment potential when more and more hectares came under plantation and the money started to pour in. New wineries started to be established.
But the excitement created by the boom also brought over-planting, and that too of “wrong varieties” which prompted the government to impose restricted planting. But the growers took the lead to swap from cheaper varieties like Muller Thurgau to more sophisticated varieties like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Today, New Zealand wine exporters compete with other major international wine dealers in the same footing which indeed is creditable, particularly since they had achieved the goal within a very short time frame.