9 Excellent New Zealand Wines That Aren’t Sauvignon Blanc

The country has so much more to offer than the grape it’s famous for.

By Brian Freedman January 10, 2020

New Zealand may be synonymous with fruit-forward Sauvignon Blanc—and often remarkably affordable Pinot Noir—but it has so much more to offer. Earlier this year I traveled extensively through the gorgeous country, and came away beyond impressed with the stunning range and depth of the wine culture there.

From the Bay of Islands in the North Island, where the boat ride to The Landing looks like something out of a Disney film, to the almost alpine landscapes of Central Otago in the South Island, New Zealand is a country of magnificently diverse terroir, a proud wine history, and a winemaking culture that’s as passionate and forward-thinking as any around the world.

It’s a recipe for remarkable wines, and the reds, whites, rosés, and bubblies of New Zealand seem to only be getting better. Here are nine non-Sauvignon Blanc bottlings from all over the country, listed alphabetically, that represent both where the industry is right now and where it’s heading. From readily available wines to ones that require a bit of hunting, they each have a delicious story to tell about the excitement and sense of electricity coursing through the nation’s wine.

2017 Decibel Malbec Gimblett Gravels, Hawkes Bay

From Philadelphia-born winemaker Daniel Brennan, this rolls from the glass with a deep well of blackberries, black raspberries, cracked peppercorns, and hints of plum cake and spice cake. The concentrated palate reminds me of a Northern Rhône Syrah crossed with Cahors. Blackberries and mulberries are complicated with allspice, star anise, tobacco, mineral, and peppercorn.

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Click here to learn more about Decibel Malbec Gimblett Gravels

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