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Greystone Wines Sauvignon Blanc: A Waipara Valley Alternative to Marlborough

Another region featured at the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Master Class was Waipara Valley in Canterbury, just north of Christchurch and south of Marlborough. Waipara used to be famous for its Canterbury lamb, but in last 30 years it has become home to around 80 vineyards, and is now the fastest growing wine region in New Zealand.

The Waipara offering was the Greystone Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Greystone Wines is better known for the pure flavours of its riesling and pinot noir, and its sauvignon blanc had more floral aromas and minerality than the other wines we sampled.  A blend of two hand-harvested blocks, the first portion, Block 2, was whole bunch pressed and entirely barrel fermented in seasoned French oak barrels. The later picked Block 3 was settled and fermented in tank. The 2010 vintage won a Gold Medal at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

Greystone takes its name from the grey, fossil rich limestone, which is  a prominent feature of this hill slope vineyard. The northwest facing slopes are known locally as “the golden mile”, as Waipara is one of the few regions in New Zealand that offers genuine limestone sub-soils. Free draining limestone sub-soil is, of course, one of the prized features of the famed Burgundy terroir.

Like Burgundy, the climate of Waipara is also ideal for the growing of two of the world’s most difficult grapes: pinot noir and riesling. The Greystone vineyard soils, which range from free draining limestone to Glasnevin clay, provide a series of micro-terroirs imparting a unique character to the range of varieties grown. Warm sunny days give way to cool nights and autumn is typically dry and warm. The Teviotdale hills provide protection from cool easterly winds off the Pacific ocean but are open to warming from the northwest winds, keeping the temperature in a reasonably moderate range. In this environment the vines work hard to grow and yields are naturally low.

Definitely a region to keep an eye on. Decanter recently described Greystone Wines as one of the top 20 wineries in New Zealand. Pegasus Bay and Muddy Water are two other wineries  showcasing the potential of one of New Zealand’s most exciting wine regions.

Photo Credit: Greystone Winery, Waipara Valley Wine Growers

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