New Zealand Wine: Made With Care

New Zealand wine Tohu Wines is part of Kono, a Māori, whānau-owned company based in Te Tauihu, the top of the South Island.
Tohu Wines is part of Kono, a Māori, whānau-owned company based in Te Tauihu, the top of the South Island.

The French call it terroir — a sense of place. In New Zealand, tūrangawaewae is a Māori word meaning ‘our place to stand in the world’. It describes the special connection of a people and the land they live, love and work in.

New Zealand’s superlative food and wine reflects the alchemy of this relationship. The country has a well-deserved reputation for products that have been thoughtfully created and ethically manufactured.

For some time now, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise has been running its NZ Made with Care campaign, aimed at highlighting these qualities. Now in its fourth phase globally, the latest iteration of the campaign heroes 42 Aotearoa New Zealand brands, from sustainable seafood, award-winning wines, and unique spirits to top-shelf sweets, savoury snacks, spreads, and products quaintly described as ‘soulful’.

Among the culinary delights are Fix & Fogg nut spreads, Pacific Harvest edible seaweed, Pic’s Peanut Butter, Pure Delish muesli and cereal, Kai Ora Honey, Mount Cook Alpine Salmon, and TikTok sensation Whittaker’s oat milk chocolate. Beverages include Zeffer Cider (a personal favourite), Batched Premium Cocktails, Strange Nature Gin, Eden Orchards cherry juice, Six Barrel Soda syrups, and Giesen’s 0% alcohol wine.

Smith & Sheth's Omahu vineyard in Hawkes Bay.
Smith & Sheth’s Omahu vineyard in Hawkes Bay.

Wineries highlighted include Rockburn, Te Mata Estate, Summerhouse and Rapaura Springs, Babich Wines, Palliser Estate, Peregrine & Saddleback, Pyramid Valley, Smith & Sheth and Tohu, Te Whare Ra, Spy Valley and Forrest Wines. Wines from four of these producers are sampled here. They are readily available on Australian shelves.

Te Mata Estate, established in 1896, has been described as ‘a national treasure’ by Master of Wine Jancis Robinson. Home to New Zealand’s oldest vineyards, it is a certified sustainable wine producer – part of an accredited program aimed at minimising the environmental impact of wine production while promoting water conservation and reducing fossil fuels.

Tohu is the first Māori-owned wine company. It has been creating wine from New Zealand’s premier grape-growing regions since 1998. Its philosophy is to create wines that capture the flavours of each region’s unique environment while upholding respect and protection of the land for future generations.

Smith & Sheth founders, Steve Smith and Brian Sheth, met in Hawke’s Bay over a glass of Chardonnay.
Smith & Sheth founders, Steve Smith and Brian Sheth, met in Hawke’s Bay over a glass of Chardonnay.

Smith & Sheth 2018 ‘Cru’ Chardonnay: New Zealand’s oldest wine region, Hawke’s Bay, produces some stunning Chardonnay and the fruit for this beauty comes from vineyards of exceptional quality. Steve Smith and Brian Sheth, who founded the label in 2014, draw on more than 35 years of experience to hand-select the best fruit and blend their wines. ‘Cru’ is a vibrant, full-bodied Chardonnay with beautifully balanced oak and a lovely long finish. Buttery cashew notes mingle with white peach and melon and a hint of lemon.

Tohu 2021 Sauvignon Blanc: Tohu means ‘signature’ in the Māori language, and this wine from the first Māori-owned and operated label has certainly left its mark. The recipient of numerous awards and accolades, its distinctive logo is derived from the spiral pattern of koru, which for Māori symbolises growth, life and the natural world. This crisp, fresh white captures all the flavours of Marlborough’s Awatere Valley, its zesty citrus and tropical fruit aromas leading to a palate of juicy ripe lemon, lime, passionfruit, and bright herbaceous notes.

Te Mata 2022 Sauvignon Blanc: New Zealand forged its international reputation on Sauvignon Blanc so not surprisingly the variety is well represented in this line-up. Te Mata is home to New Zealand’s oldest vineyards and winery, established in Hawke’s Bay in 1896, and its wines have been widely praised by critics worldwide. This is quite a subtle drop for those who like their Sav Blanc on the lighter side. It has a delicate minerality and a long, fine palate of passionfruit and guava, with some lime and honeydew melon notes adding pleasing layers of interest.

Summerhouse 2021 Sauvignon Blanc: This lively, easy drinking quaffer comes from Blind River in Marlborough, an area with long sunshine hours producing wines full of distinct flavours and aromas. This one is redolent of citrus and tropical fruit with a flavour palate of passionfruit, lychee, rockmelon, and peach. It would be perfect for any occasion during summer: picnics, parties, barbecues, you name it. The brand name is very apt, considering.

This story originally appeared in PS News. It is not a sponsored post. Photos supplied by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and used with permission.

**Enjoy more of our wine posts and recommendations here.**

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