Wairarapa Wine Country’s flagship wine is the classic Burgundy red Pinot Noir, that captivating “minx of a grape” according to the world’s most influential wine commentator, Jancis Robinson MW. Every single regional vineyard grows this grape, which revels in the cool climate that brings gradual ripening and complex flavour development.
Although it’s not the prevailing wind, the moderating effect of cool southerly winds directly affects bunch architecture: contributing to smaller more open bunches and smaller berries. For winemakers, this means lower yields and higher juice:skin ratio, resulting in more concentrated flavour. Pure joy.
Typically, the region’s pinot noirs are described as “richly flavoured and warm with a savoury under-current, while retaining perfumed varietal character, texture and depth”. That sophisticated, savoury complexity is why many chefs, sommeliers and wine writers call this “a great food wine”.
The classic Burgundian white wine Chardonnay flourishes in the region’s cool climate, producing well-balanced, food-friendly, structured and complex wines. Ripe citrus and stonefruit characters, spicy notes and lightly toasted nut flavours and textures are revealed.
The region’s “best kept secret”, Sauvignon Blanc has a distinctive regional character. The wines are described as “intense and vivid, with excellent perfume and, mineral textures, with a good mix of tropical and herbaceous flavours”.
Increasingly popular, Syrah is a newer regional success, producing powerful but elegant wines, with white pepper, dark fruit flavours (from blueberries to ripe dark stonefruit and savoury black olive) and spice notes.
The aromatics also impress: mostly Pinot Gris and Riesling, enjoying the long growing season, with small volumes of Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Grüner Veltliner.
Wine notes from New Zealand Winegrowers