Let’s play a little word association: We say “New Zealand wine” and you say, “Sauvignon Blanc,” right? We get it, Sauvignon Blanc put the country on the wine drinker’s map and, all in all, it’s been nothing short of a success story.
But only mentioning Sauvignon Blanc when talking New Zealand wine is a bit like only acknowledging Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” phase — classic, but by no means the whole story. If New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was a hit debut, the country’s Pinot Noir is the triple-platinum follow-up worthy of your attention.
Here’s what you need to know:
Pinot Noir Is The Local Darling
Across the globe, Pinot Noir is one of the most planted grapes out there, but New Zealand Pinot Noir often gets overshadowed by the country’s famous Sauvignon Blanc. With Pinots that are easy to drink, food-friendly and affordable, the country’s signature red deserves some serious attention. And a lot of wineries like Oyster Bay have gone to great lengths to cultivate some of the world’s best Pinot Noir grapes, which is why it’s worth seeking out.
The Varietal Has Good Genes
Hailing from France’s Burgundy region, Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned grape, that, when well made, creates wines with summery red fruit flavors (think: cherries, red berries) and silky textures with an often understated complexity. In short, though the varietal didn’t originate in New Zealand, the country’s unique cool climate and skilled winemakers have certainly made their mark.
It’s The New(er) Kid On The Block
Relatively speaking, New Zealand is a newbie when it comes to wine. Yes, vines have been planted there for over a century, but it’s really only made its way onto the global stage since the millennium. Proof of the growing popularity of the region is the countless new wineries that have popped up across the country in just the past 15 years. A lot of those are growing Pinot Noir grapes, so people are clearly itching to explore the delicious red!
So Fresh and So Clean!
Of all the wine grown in New Zealand, Pinot Noir is credited with being the varietal that truly reflects the terroir. What makes wines from New Zealand so unique is a sense of freshness with a subtle acidity and nice structure. This clean, vibrant flavor that extends to the reds can be credited to most vineyards’ proximity to the ocean.
Location, Location, Location
Though Marlborough Pinot Noir may be in Sauvignon Blanc's shadow in terms of volume produced in the region, vintners such as Oyster Bay prove the age old saying, ‘quality over quantity.’ The Marlborough region’s positioning on the country’s South Island means it has a cool climate and longer growing season. The contrasting mix of sunny days and cool nights makes the Marlborough region one of the best places to grow this temperamental varietal.
It’s Super Drinkable And Food-Friendly
If your favorite Pinot Noirs hail from Oregon’s Willamette Valley or California's Sonoma coast, you’ll want to try Pinot Noir from New Zealand. New Zealand Pinot Noirs are often a lighter style of wine, making them well-suited for pairing with a wide range of foods. Since New Zealand Pinot Noir tends to be more fruit-forward, it complements leaner proteins (think salmon, tuna, roast chicken, lamb) and earthier dishes like pasta with mushrooms.
A few of our recipes that would pair seamlessly with a New Zealand Pinot Noir include this 40 Clove Garlic Chicken, these Mixed Mushroom Toasts, these Seared Lamb Chops, or this Paprika Grilled Salmon Salad.
Where To Start
Our friends at Oyster Bay received an outstanding 90-point score from Wine Spectator and a Double Gold Medal win at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, so it’s the perfect brand to introduce you to the region’s Pinot Noir. For a taste of #oysterbaypinotnoir, head to your local beverage retailer or check out oysterbaywines.com to learn more!
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