New Zealand Spreads Its Wings
“Given its surging quality, it can be easy to forget how young New Zealand is in the world of wine. The country’s original winemaking pioneers are still setting the pace as their signature white, Sauvignon Blanc, becomes one of the fastest-growing categories in the United States.
“As the country’s wine industry has matured, there have been subtle changes in the selection and style available. The breakdown of wines I’ve reviewed since my last report (“New Zealand’s Bright Horizon,” June 15, 2013) — more than 400 in total, all blind-tasted in our Napa office — reflects the changing landscape of New Zealand wine. Typically half of the wines I review are Sauvignon Blancs, but this year the breakdown is a third each of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, with the remaining third a mix of Chardonnay, various aromatic whites, Rhone- and Bordeaux-inspired reds and sparkling wines.
“But there are plenty of terrific Chardonnays. As usual, Kumeu River dominates the Chardonnay discussion, with six outstanding bottlings, the highlight being the Kumeu Hunting Hill 2011.”