Aug 9, 2019
No, it's not a typo: Martinborough is a quality enclave in the
larger Wellington Wine Country of New Zealand, which we discuss in
depth in this episode. Simone Madden-Grey returns to tell us about
the stunning Pinot Noir, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, up
and coming Syrah, and other excellent Wellington wines that must be
on your radar!
Here are the show notes:
Wellington Wine Country Overview
- In 2016 three wine regions of the Wairarapa Valley in the lower
north island formally launched Wellington Wine Country: Masterton,
Gladstone, and Martinborough
- The area is small -- just 3% of national plantings and 1% of
national production, but represents 10% of producers
- The southern part of New Zealand's North Island
- 35 miles (55km) north-east of Wellington (1 hr drive), New
Zealand's capital city, in a wide river valley between Rimutaka
mountain range and eastern Wairarapa hills
- Semi-maritime, dry climate – rain shadow of the Tararua Ranges
with blustery winds
- Cool spring and autumn seasons, hot summer days with cool
nights - long growing season
- Martinborough Terrace: a crescent shaped
area on the edge of a river terrace formed by the Ruamahunga and
Huangarua rivers with gravel soils that drain well and stress the
vines (in a good way)
- Mountain ranges and hills
- Remutaka and Tararua Ranges to the west protect from winds off
- Aorangi Ranges, western mountain ranges protect area from cold
southerly winds coming in off the Cook Strait and together with the
western moutnain ranges, also funnel cool breezes up from the Cook
- River terraces in Martinborough with pockets of clay and
quartz-threaded greywacke (type of coloured sedimentary sandstone
formed by river deposits) and volcanic basalt.
- Alluvial soils can be up to 15m deep in Martinborough
- Semi-maritime climate with high sunshine hours, cool Springs
and Autumns, warm Summers
- Warm, low rainfall, relatively long, dry growing season, low
humidity and low disease pressure
- Diurnal variation: Summer temps during the day 30˚C (86˚F)
to 10˚C (50˚F) at night
- Frost is an issue, very windy at times throughout the year,
particularly in spring
Sub Regions: North to south
- Masterton: Largest town in
Wairarapa,first area grapes were planted in the region. Known
for Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir
- Gladstone: Just south of Masterton,
free-draining river terraces - Shallower terraces than of
Martinborough and nearby. Clay pockets – planted Pinot Noir,
Sauvignon Blanc with high aromatics.
- Martinborough – about 30
wineries: Colonial village is surrounded by small
vineyards, family-owned producers – highly respected boutique
wineries. Lowest rainfall of any area in the North Island and
reliably cool climate for Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling
and other aromatic whites.
- Te Muna: Southeast of the township with
stonier alluvial gravel soils, windier growing conditions and a
slightly cooler climate than Martinborough. Escarpment and Craggy
Range are here.
Wine Style: Red, white, sparkling (usually
Methode Traditionnelle), rosé and sweet wines are all produced in
- Pinot Noir: Thicker skins and smaller yields
contribute an aromatic, savory, dark fruited profile with good
acidity and potential for age.
- Sauvignon Blanc: leading white grape variety,
very important for export. More herbaceous and citrus driven, with
mineral notes -- less of the big fruit style of Marlborough
- Pinot Gris: Trying to coax a spicier, more
complex style with pear and white stone fruit characters
- Chardonnay: For the last decade
growers pick earlier to attain lower alcohol, more natural
acidity -- lighter less tropical style. Varying degrees of
new oak and use of MLF, lees contact and stirring, but the
goal is elegance
- Riesling: Good acidity, very lemon-lime in
- Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Syrah and some
The producer list!
- High-profile small producers: Ata Rangi, Margrain, Dry River, Escarpment, Te
Kairanga, Martinborough Vineyard
- Paddy Borthwick in Gladstone
- Larger but still good producers: Palliser, Craggy
- Second labels:
- Martinborough Vineyard’s "Te Tera" (UK, NZ, Oz only)
- Palliser "Pencarrow" (UK, NZ, Oz only)
- Escarpment "The Edge" (UK, NZ, Oz only)
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