The land most Americans came to know via The Lord of the Rings is home to some great wines as well as spectacular scenery. Sauvignon Blanc is grown in most New Zealand wine regions, but is especially notable in Marlborough, where it makes wines that set the New World standard for that variety. Other grape varieties commonly grown in New Zealand include Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Merlot.
Wine Enthusiast’s New Zealand wine guide features thousands of New Zealand wine reviews from all over the country, including Hawkes Bay and Martinborough on the North Island and Marlborough, Nelson, Waipara and Central Otago on the South Island. Search our Buying Guide to find New Zealand wine ratings from all of your favorite producers.
Based on old (20–25-year-old) plantings of Pommard clone, this fabulous wine blends savory, spicy scents with floral elements on the nose, then delves deep into black cherries in the mouth. Rich and velvety on the palate, with powerful fruit and the structure to age. One of the best New World Pinots I’ve ever tasted.— J.C. (12/1/2005)
This is a rich, sumptuous red wine. It looks, smells and tastes opulent. Ripe, forward berry flavors, wrapped in considerable oak, taste full and long, and the wine flatters with thick, velvety but fine tannins. The finish is a wonder, long and intricate. The aftertaste lasts for a full minute. It’s wonderful now, but should age effortlessly for many years. A blend…— S.H. (11/15/2002)
Unusually lush, even for this vintage, it starts with pronounced aromas of limes and lemons, fresh green apples, and juniper berries, and turns luscious in the mouth. Partial barrel fermentation and lees aging create a creamy, smoky mouthfeel, while the fruity flavors are volcanic. But it’s dry and elegant. Virtually flawness Sauvignon Blanc.— S.H. (11/15/2002)
In 2012, my favorite of the Kumeu River Chardonnays is the medium- to full-bodied, creamy-textured offering from Hunting Hill. Think streusel-topped citrus, but dry, with a long, harmonious finish.— J.C. (4/1/2015)
A tremendous effort from Spy Valley, this easily eclipses the winery’s regular Sauvignon Blanc. Fig, melon and hints of vanilla mark the nose, while the palate amps up the citrus component, providing delineation to the nectarine flavors. It’s on the full side of medium-bodied, with a silky, slightly creamy texture and a lingering finish that seamlessly blends…— J.C. (11/1/2014)
Maté’s Vineyard stands apart from the other Kumeu River bottlings for its consistent acid line and persistent finish, while retaining all of the typical Chardonnay flourishes. Roasted-nut notes impart an almost nougat-like nuance to the fruit flavors of citrus and white peach, while the palate is big and broad but neither overly muscular nor flabby. Long and toasty…— J.C. (4/1/2014)
Representing a new level of quality for Waiheke Syrah, this wine boasts captivating aromas of peppered meat, violets and cassis. It’s full bodied without being heavy, and the flavors seamlessly blend fruity with savory for a thrilling ride. Finishes long, with firm tannins and a hint of espresso. Drink now¬–2018.— J.C. (9/1/2011)
Simply put, this is an outstanding example of New World Chardonnay, marrying bold tropical fruit aromas and flavors with Burgundian production techniques. Guava and mango notes are lush an dappealing, framed by just enough structure and hints of dried spices and toasty oak for complexity and balance. Long and crisp on the finish. Now-2013.— J.C. (11/1/2008)