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Posted: July 08, 2009

New Zealand wine redux

New Zealand exports $800 million in wine each year

Cathie Beck—The Wine Wench

We wrote about New Zealand’s thriving wine industry almost a year ago to the date – but we’re revisiting that country’s large and robust wine industry because of the Palm International Wine Tasting held in Denver in May — and because of one New Zealand wine distributor: Boyd Gardner of New Zealand’s Grove Mill winery. (Watch the video.)

Boyd pretended I was cold sober by the time I arrived at Grove Mill’s table, and he proved to be everything New Zealand: large-and-in-charge, robust and happy. He was happy to talk about his winery, he was happy we put him on the spot and filmed him. He was such a jolly fellow, he pulled a few bottles of Grove Mill’s Sauvignon Blanc from a cool pool of chilled water and gave them to me.

There’s nothing like payola.

There’s also very good reason to revisit New Zealand wines because the industry is so vast and because the wines are very available in Colorado. According to the New Zealand Winegrowers Association, New Zealand exports $800 million in wine every year. New Zealand’s sustainable winegrowing population rose 50 percent in 2008, and the industry expects to export $1,000,000,000 (that’s billion) in exports by 2010.

The billion dollars in exports from New Zealand is not so surprising. Made up of islands in the midst of the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand covers over 103,000 square miles. Ten major growing regions occupy approximately 1,000 of those square miles, producing mostly Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Though New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay often gets most of the attention paid to the country’s wine industry, New Zealanders have made their mark in Pinot Noir production. It hasn’t always been easy. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, red varieties were not planted as much in white due to the relatively low sunshine hours. However, the Canterbury region produced a St. Helene 1984 Pinot Noir, and producers quickly developed the Pinot Noir as the country’s key red variety.

The 1980s also marked the time when New Zealand began producing world-class Sauvignon Blanc, particularly the Marlborough region. Many critics have called New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc the best in the world, and one critic wrote that “New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is like a child who inherits the best of both parents — exotic aromas found in certain Sauvignon Blancs from the New World and the pungency of limy acidity of an Old World Sauvignon Blanc.”

Likewise, Colorado wine boutiques in the know, praise New Zealand wines, most notably the country’s Sauvignon Blancs. “We carry mostly Sauvignon Blancs,” says Steve from City Wine, “including ones from Huia, Oyster Bay, and Matua. 

“We also usually carry the one from Cru Vin Dogs,” he adds, “but we have a Pinot Noir called Russian Jack from Marlborough, and we really like the Pinot Gris from New Zealand. However, they are small production and hard to find.”

And so kudos to Boyd of New Zealand’s Grove Hill Winery, a vineyard working to make a permanent mark in the U.S. Boyd didn’t just pitch his wine and then gracefully pretend I was cold sober after 90 minutes of wine tasting from dozens of international wineries.

When the security guards refused to let me leave the building with his wine gifts, he winked, poured a generous glass and handed it to me. It was delicious.

Word o’ the Week

Marlborough — Marlborough is a New Zealand wine region that represents 62 percent of New Zealand’s vineyard area. It is most known for producing world-class Sauvignon Blanc, but also produces Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

One winning wine tasting: Friday Night Flight benefit for Third Way Center

On Friday, July 24, 2009, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar will host a wine tasting benefit on behalf of Third Way Center, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Third Way Center provides a continuum of services in a home-like environment where high-risk, homeless, mentally ill and disadvantaged youth can work through their problems.

Tickets for the Friday Night Flight are available for $25 per person by calling the restaurant in advance at 303.768.0827 or at the door. The event will be hosted on the outdoor patio (weather permitting) and Fleming’s is located at 191 Inverness Drive West, in Englewood.

Coming July 24
Sangria-makin’ vino

Sangria is a delightful summer beverage, made best with a hearty red wine, lots of fruit and an overnight stay in a ceramic pitcher tucked at the back of the fridge.

Not every red wine, however, is perfect for a patio-sipping Sangria. On July 17, we’ll have a list of wines perfect for making a pitcher of one of the best summertime drinks ever invented. And if you’re lucky, the best sangria recipe ever invented will rear its pretty head as well.

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Cathie Beck, a/k/a The Wine Wench, can be reached at: Please forward any and all wine events, wine-related news items directly to her.

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