Marlborough brought New Zealand wines to the attention of the world with its classical Sauvignon Blancs during the 1980s and 77% of the country’s wines – including exquisite Pinot Noir and intense Chardonnay – are produced in this region.
As the country’s largest wine growing region, Marlborough wine tasting has become a popular pastime among visitors to the South Island, which is renowned for its sun kissed climate and attractions including the breathtakingly beautiful Marlborough Sounds.
At Wine Paths, our local experts in New Zealand can organise exclusive Marlborough wine tasting tours of vineyards across the region, which can include elaborate tastings, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and some unique outdoor activities. All of our private Marlborough New Zealand wine tasting tours can be tailor made to meet your exact requirements, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and revel in the quality of the wines.
Many wine critics rate the Sauvignon Blanc produced from Marlborough vineyards as being the world’s finest – thanks to a magical synergy between climate and soil, accompanied by the dedication of the region’s wine makers. The north-eastern corner of New Zealand’s South Island is a diverse area of natural beauty. With the Pacific Ocean to the east and towering mountain ranges to the north and south, there is a broad alluvial plain stretching from the coastline to the gradually rising valleys.
Wine tasting in Marlborough generally takes place across two main sub-regions:
The Wairau Valley, which was referred to by the Maori as ‘Ket puta te Wairau’ or ‘the place with the hole in the cloud’, is the more established and claims a greater share of Marlborough’s vineyards.
The Wairau Valley is also home to the region’s main centre Blenheim, which is surrounded by an extensive patchwork of vineyards and usually features as part of a Marlborough wine tasting tour. The Sauvignon Blanc from here reigns supreme, characterised by tropical fruit flavours, although Marlborough sparkling wines made in the same methode traditionelle as Champagne are also highly regarded.
The smaller Awatere Valley lies south of Wairau and stretches inland from the sea climbing towards the Kaikoura mountain ranges where the cooler climate creates lower yields of bright aromatic styles including the ubiquitous Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Wine from Awatere Valley is more heavily influenced by the ocean, producing Sauvignon Blanc with a distinct minerality that has inevitably led to comparisons with those from Sancerre in France.
Since Sauvignon Blanc accounts for over 80% of the region’s entire production, you can expect to sample your fair share during a Marlborough wine tasting tour, which should reveal characteristic aromatic wines with vividly pure fruit, herbaceous and tropical undertones. Pinot Noir from Marlborough has been steadily growing in stature as committed growers refine both clones and site. During a wine tasting in Marlborough, you can expect to sample medium bodied reds with dark fruit flavours of cherries and plum, and fine tannins.
Marlborough also produces well-structured Chardonnay with excellent intensity and complexity that carries citrus and stone fruit flavours such as peach and apricot. And, of the aromatics, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer reflect the region’s purity and vivacity. The region is continually trying to broaden its horizons with Gruner Veltliner, Viognier and Syrah all showing promise, while everything from Arneis to Tempranillo is being explored.
Contact our local expert for more inspirational ideas before planning a Marlborough wine tasting tour that will redefine your expectations of Sauvignon Blanc.