With new wineries coming on stream at an amazing rate, New Zealand seems to raise the standard year on year. Dramatic improvments have been made with red wines, with Pinot Noir all the rage. The total area under vine in New Zealand has more than doubled since 1990, and its wine industry is one of the most forward-thinking in the world.
New Zealand wine is exciting because of the number of wines being produced from slightly less predictable grape varieties. Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Riesling perform well while beyond Pinot Noir, it may be suprising to find Syrah, Zinfandek and even Pinotage producing the goods and joining Cabernet Saugvinon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.
New Zealand’s wine-producing regions strech from Auckland on the North Island to Central Otago, the country’s most southerly wine region on South Island. The country benefits from a temperate, maritime climate and a wide range of wine style are produced. On the North Island some of New Zealand’s top Cabernet-based reds are made in the Auchlakd/Henderson area. Waiheke Island, a short ferry journey from Auckland, enjoys a warm microclimate, which helps it ot produce rich Bordeaux blends. In Northland, a number of boutiqui wineries are making hight-class Cabernet-based reds and Chardonnay. Gisborne is Chardonnay country but also produces some promising Gewürztraminer.
Hawke’s Bay is a region with a range of soils, including the Gimblett gravels, a 2,000- acre area of deep, stony soil. Full, rich Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot blends are made in good vitanges. The Chardonnay are some of New Zealand’s most powerful and Sauvignon Blanc tends to be more rounded than the Marlborough style, from South Island. On the southeastern tip of North Island, the tiny region of Martinborough, also known as Wairarapa, excels in fine Pinot Noir.
On the South Island, Marlborough, the largest region in the New Zealand, has seen extensive expasion since the mid 1970s. The maritime climate and stony soils are perfect for Sauvignon Blanc, which has become synonymous with Marlborough. Distinctive Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling wines are also made in this hugely fashionable region.
While the vineyards of Ontario in Canada are on the northern shore of Lake Erie, the majority of the North-East’s vineyards in the United States are on the southern shore between Detroit and Buffalo. The Finger Lakers area is slighty further east and to the south of Lake Ontario.
There are also vineyards towards the coast on the banks of the Hudson River, on Long Island near New York, and further away near Boston. The remaining vineyards of the North-East can be found in the valley of the Ohio river and south of Washington DC, in the Shenandoah Valley.
The local American wine industry dates back to the first pioneering settles of the sixteenth century. For many years hybrids and natives species that were not varieties of Vitis vineferawere used like Alexander, Catawba, Delaware, and Concord. The results from these were not really satisfactory because of the ‘foxy’ aroma these vines give to the wines that is characteristics of varieties and sub species of Vitis labrusca. The ‘foxy’ aroma is best describes as the smell of a dirty old pelt on which old-fashioned home-made fruit jam has been smeared.
More suitable French hybrids were introduced during the early 1940s such as Baco Noir and Seyval. From the early 1950s and particularly in the 1970s large scale planting were made of Vitis viniferavines. Thirty years later this helped to cause a major breakthrough.
New York’s climate is marginal for cultivating vines and making wines. The summers are generally very warm and dry but the winters are often exceptionally raw. Wine-growing is only possible where the climate is moderated by the big rivers, lakes, or the Atlantic Ocean. It is extremely important to plant the vines in subsoil that is free draining. The North-East region contains the following officially recognised places of origin known as AVA (American Viticultural Areas): New York (includes Finger Lakes, Lake Erie, Hidson River, The Hamptons- Long Island), New England (Western Connecticut Highlands, South-estern New England), Ohio, Michagan, and Virginia (inclunding the Shenandoah Valley).
Despite goverment campaigns promoting the planting of Vitis vinifieravarieties, some still persist with the old-fashioned and inferior Concord, Catawba, Delaware, and Niagara. The very best wines though are made with Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc (Hudison River). Merlot, and Pinot Noir.
The American wines from such as the Concord are really northing soecial.
The south west of the United States is not really suited to wine-growing with the exception of certain parts of Texas. But American derermination can overcome much and the odd place has been found here and there to grown vines after a long search.KN85T8SFFEJC
The South and Middle-East region is enormous and the vineyards are spread widely. They lie between Denver in the centr of the United States, Columbia on the eastern seaboard, south to a line formed by Austin, New Orleans, and Orlando, and finally Florida.
The first pioneers, but more particularly the first monks, planted the first vineyards in New Mexico. The territory now known as New Mexico and Texas was then part of the Spanish Empire. German immigrants introduced wine-growing to Missouri, Georgia, and Carolina in the nineteenth century. Other immigrants did the same in Arkansas. These vineyards, which combined European Vitis vinferawith many native and hybrid varieties, have never become well-known and their wines were all intended for local consumption.
When wine-growing and making started to catch on in America in the 1960s and 1970s, the growers of South Carolina saw their opportunity. The area of vines in cultivation in Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida has also been substantially extended and the cultivation and varieties improved during the past twenty years.
The climate is not really favourable, for the summers are extremly hot and the winters severe. It is too dry in the north of the region but irrigation can work wonders. In the south on th other hand it is too wet but here growers seek out places that are sighted at higher levels, where it is more windy and drier. The extensive area has a number of official palces of origin or AVAs. These include Texas Hill Contry, Bell Mountain, Frederichsburg, and Escondido in Texas; New Mexico, Missouri, and Virginia. Although there are still many native and hybrid varieties grown in these area the houses that are really serios about wine are increasingly switching to Vitis vineferavarieties.
There is on native grape thougt that springs a surprise: the Scuppernong, which makes a pleasing and very aromatic Muscat-like sweet wine in some of the southern states. All the other native and hybrid varieties are really only intended for local cosumption.
Australian wine-growing is quite typical of the New World scene with huge vineyards spread across enormous territories between South Australia (Barossa and Coonawarra),
Victoria (Yarra), and New South Wales (Hunter), plus hi-tech equipment and methodology and staggering yields. Despite all this Australia is not anywhere near the output of wine-producing countries like Italy, France, and Spain. A large proportion of the potential harvest is destroyed by natural hazards such as hail, rain, extreme heat, fire, kangaroos, foxes, crows, and greybacked silvereyes.
Considerable government support has been invested developing and extending the local wine industry. Up to the 1970s the most popular wines were mainly sweet Rieslings. The plantings of Riesling have been decimated since the arrival of Chardonnay vines, because the wines from these are more successful in the export market.
Chardonnay is now the most widely planted grape variety but Shiraz is also gaining ground too. Besides these there are also a number of other varieties which are new to Australia that are gaining popularity.
Hence in addition to new plantings of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Ruby Cabernet (Cabernet and Cinsaut), increasing numbers of Sangiovese and Barbera vines are also being planted. The white grape that surprises everyone and is gaining popularity at the expense of Chardonnay, Semillon, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Muscadelle, and Traminer is the Verdelho.
Australian wine-makers are often accused of putting more emphasis on the variety of grape than on the aspects related to terroir. The criticism is not entirely justified because each wine is a combination of factors: the grape variety, soil, climate, and of course the underground water.
Australian winemakers can guarantee their customers constant quality by blending together wines from different areas. This can compensate year in year out for the vagaries of the Australian climate. The result is a superb wine with a distinctive character. Australian wines are almost always produced from a number of vineyards. It is possible for 'single vineyard' wines to be made in Australia, but given the enormous size of many of them, this would lack credibility while also adding unnecessary costs and uncertainty. This would also be contrary to the 'flavour for dollar' policy that has made Australian wines world famous. A 'single vineyard' wine would vary in quality from year to year and this is not what today's consumers want.
It is often essential in Australia to irrigate the vines. This is strictly forbidden in most European countries, even during the most extreme periods of dry weather. New World wine countries though regard irrigation as a perfectly natural occurrence. Their systems are so well refined that the vines can be drip fed at whatever height is required. Spray equipment is installed on both sides of the vines but it is also possible to spray from just one side. This gives the vine a contrasting signal so that the leaves absorb water rather than the grapes in order to maintain a good balance between sun and moisture.
The technique by which the skins are left in contact to extract the maximum possible aromatic and flavour substances in the juice (maceration pelliculaire), is only used in poor years in Australia. The grapes normally have more than adequate aromatic and flavour substances in them as a result of the good sun/moisture balance.
The malolactic fermentation with lactic acids that is used in Europe is only partially used here. Australian wines do not by nature have high levels of acidity, so that it makes no sense, nor is it desirable for a complete malolactic fermentation to take place. The sun also has a beneficial effect on the growth of the vines. Australian winemakers rarely need to add fertilizer to the soil. Those in favour of organic winemaking do not need to ring any alarm bells here as they do in Europe.
Australian wine-makers ideas about cask maturing in wood are also different. In order to provide plenty of flavour at a price they have used wood chips to give cheaper wines a characteristic 'oaked' taste. This is a thing of the past though for today the best Australian companies use huge tanks in which a sort of giant wheel constantly agitates the young wine.
This gives the wine regular contact with large oak planks that can be pushed into the tank through special apertures. The length of time that the wine spends in these tanks is determined by the desired strength of the taste of oak required. The eventual result has much greater finesse than the use of oak chips.