MARLBOROUGH (December 2018)

Sauvignon Blanc – predictably – dominated this year’s tasting of wines from Marlborough, accounting for nearly half of all entries. Following the region’s hottest January on record and wettest-ever February, the Sauvignon Blancs from the 2018 vintage have ripe, tropical fruit flavours to the fore, rather than pungent herbaceous characters, giving them an easy-drinking appeal.

It would be hard to exaggerate the extent to which Marlborough dominates the wine industry in New Zealand. In 2018, from 68 per cent of the country’s producing vineyard area, the region’s growers harvested over 77 per cent of New Zealand’s total grape crop.

The tasting also attracted significant numbers of sparklings, rosés, Pinot Gris, Chardonnays, Rieslings and Pinot Noirs. Often grown on north-facing, clay-based sites on the south side of the Wairau Valley, the Pinot Noirs – still widely underrated – were typically of a high standard, and the top-rated aromatic whites and rosés were deliciously vibrant and flavour-packed.