|The Hawke's Bay Wine Trail|
|Thursday, 08 September 2011 08:16|
Hawke's Bay is New Zealand's largest premium red wine producing region.
With over 74% of New Zealand's producing hectares, 86% of New Zealand's 2010 vintage of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and 86% of New Zealand's vintage of Syrah, Hawke's Bay has a reputation for superior quality red wines.
The warm maritime climate and varying landscape also produces New Zealand's richest and most complex Chardonnays.
History, consistency, diversity and innovation continue to provide the foundation for
Hawke's Bay's reputation as a fine wine producing region.
Fine Red Wine.
Hawke's Bay is recognised worldwide as New Zealand's ultra premium red wine region. Combining new world fruit flavours with old world structure, Hawke's Bay red wines are unique in their style.
The wines are typically Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon dominant and are often blended with other classical red varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. With over 65% of New Zealand's producing hectares of these varieties, Hawke's Bay is the leading producer of finest quality red wine.
Syrah is rapidly becoming recognized as the most exciting wine produced
in the Hawke's Bay and accounts for 86% of New Zealand's 2010 Syrah vintage. Syrah, produced in a classic European style, exhibits flavours of fresh raspberry and cracked pepper. These red wines in total make up 34% of the total Hawke's Bay vintage.
Hawke's Bay has consistently produced New Zealand's leading examples of Chardonnay with 22% of New Zealand's total producing hectares for this variety.
Hawke's Bay's Chardonnays are rich, complex wines with distinctive
flavours of citrus and ripe stonefruit and are 15% of the total annual vintage. (This excludes Chardonnay produced for sparkling wine production).
With Hawke's Bay's diversity of climate and soil structures, sub - regions and individual vineyards have been recognised for their ability to produce high quality examples of a range of other grape varieties and styles.
Hawke's Bay Sauvignon Blanc retains the freshness typical of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc while exhibiting ripe tropical fruit flavours.
The Hawke's Bay region is also a significant producer of sparkling and dessert wines.
Individual wineries have had great success with Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Semillon, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir. Other, more experimental varieties include Arneis, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Zinfandel.
Hawke's Bay is in the North Island of New Zealand, 300km north of Marlborough and 360km south of Auckland.
Located at 39.4° South (the same as Madrid in the North), Hawke's Bay is one of the hottest and sunniest areas of New Zealand. Sheltering inland ranges and a maritime influence provide a perfect balance. Hawke's Bay's warm maritime climate provides a long growing season, low rainfall, and an annual average of 2297 sunshine hours.
With more than 25 soil types, from clay loam to limestone to sands and gravel, the region offers a tremendous diversity for wine styles. Add to that a choice of sites from coastal to inland foothills, altitudes from virtually sea level to several hundred metres and Hawke's Bay is a region with limitless grape growing opportunities.
Hawke's Bay is New Zealand's oldest wine region with beginnings in the 1850's. By the early 1920's Mission Estate.
Te Mata Estate, Vidal Estate, McDonalds Winery and Glenvale Winery (now Esk Valley Winery) were all established in the region.
The soils and climate that so excited the early winemaking efforts of those pioneers continues to provide the inspiration for the current generation of Hawke's Bay winemakers.
Today, over 4,800 hectares of wine producing grapes are planted here. Hawke's Bay has the largest plantings of red grape varieties in New Zealand and has the second largest number of plantings overall.
The combined plantings of red varieties account for nearly half the grapes in Hawke's Bay. Approximately 50% of production is white wine and 50% red wine.
The earliest vineyards in Hawke's Bay were established on the coast and in areas close to the towns of Napier, Havelock North and Hastings.
Later development extended to the Heretaunga Plains, which were formed by the
movement of the lower reaches of three rivers; the Tutaekuri, The Ngaruroro and the Tukituki Rivers.
More recent developments have extended to the edges of the alluvial plains and extend up the regions river valleys.
Smaller plantings are exploring hillside sites around the fringes of the Heretaunga Plains as well as higher altitude sites of inland Central Hawke's Bay.