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New Zealand Wine…Beyond Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand made its international reputation with delicious, affordable Sauvignon Blanc, but there is an entire universe of wine to discover there. Let’s take a look at what makes New Zealand wine so important.

What wine is New Zealand known for?

New Zealand is most famous for its Sauvignon Blanc—particularly Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc—and Pinot Noir. Still, there is a seemingly endless range of wine that’s worth discovering beyond those two marquis players. New Zealand white wine, like New Zealand Chardonnay, New Zealand Riesling, and more, can offer just as much pleasure as the Sauvignon Blancs that line shelves and fill restaurant wine lists. And on the other side of that coin, Marlborough wine is far more diverse than just Sauvignon Blanc. New Zealand Pinot Noir has also justifiably earned a worldwide reputation for greatness—fans of Pinot Noir from Sonoma, Burgundy, the Willamette Valley, and beyond will find plenty to love in New Zealand, too. Your best bet is to visit your local Total Wine and speak with one of our passionate experts for guidance and recommendations.

What is the best New Zealand red wine?

Red wine in New Zealand runs the gamut from fresh yet complex Pinot Noir to more profound, denser expressions of grape varieties like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more. Many critics love the reds of Felton Road, but there are too many great ones to possibly consider them all in one place. And in general, sommeliers and critics have recently fallen in love with Central Otago Pinot Noir, which can go toe to toe with the best of anywhere in the world.

What is the best Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand?

White wine in New Zealand is more or less synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc, and there are dozens and dozens of world-class producers there. Among the most critically beloved are Cloudy Bay, Brancott, and Dog Point.

Is New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc dry?

In general, yes, though its famously exuberant fruit flavors—grapefruit, occasional stone fruit, and more tropical notes in hotter vintages—balance out the grape’s inherently mouthwatering acidity to make for a dry yet generous option that’s appropriate year-round and with an extensive range of foods.

What are the famous grapes of New Zealand?

Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are the most famous grape varieties for NZ wine, but they are certainly not the only ones. Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and more also excel there.

What are the wine-growing regions in New Zealand?

New Zealand is divided into two islands, the North Island and the South Island, and the grape-growing conditions from the north of the North Island—where the landscape looks classically like the South Pacific—to the south of the South Island, which resembles Switzerland in many important ways, are remarkably different. The main regions in the North Island, from north to south, include Northland, Auckland, Waikato / Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, and Martinborough. Going north to south on the South Island, the main wine-growing regions are Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury / Waipara, and, the southernmost wine region, Central Otago (in which the increasingly popular Gibbston Valley is found), which is one of the most exciting wine regions in the world right now.

What are popular brands of New Zealand wine?

There are many excellent brands of New Zealand wine worth considering. Among the most well-known and respected are Kim Crawford, Governors Bay, Kia Ora, Oyster Bay, Cottesbrook, Whitehaven, Grey Rock, Nobilo, Cloudy Bay, Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, Framingham, and Villa Maria New Zealand.

Browse our full selection of New Zealand wine online or check out our selection of highly-rated New Zealand wine for a great new New Zealand wine to try this week!

Want to learn more about New Zealand wine?

Visit our Guide to New Zealand wine to learn more about New Zealand wine.