Best wine varietals in the Wairarapa
With a relatively small number of vineyards compared to other wine-growing destinations, the beautiful Wairarapa is one of New Zealand’s ‘boutique’ wine-making regions. This is not to say that the wines are any less impressive—in fact, the unique combination of climate and soil means some of the country’s best wines are produced in the mighty Wairarapa. We highly recommend a wine tour when you stay at Wharekauhau, so, to help you prepare, we’ve listed some of the best wine varietals you simply must sample for the optimum wine-tasting experience.
Sommeliers and fine wine specialists say that some of New Zealand’s best Pinot Noir hails from the Wairarapa. Pinot Noir is best grown in a cooler climate and with the Wairarapa’s crisp shoulder seasons and evenings, it thrives across the three main sub-regions of Martinborough, Gladstone and Masterton. Rich, warm and elegant have all been used to describe Wairarapa Pinot Noir, which appears to contain more red fruits than the black fruits that are more prevalent in other regions renowned for their Pinot Noir.
It is not just the Marlborough region that can churn out a great Sauvignon Blanc. As a grape that grows incredibly well in shallow, silty soils with high levels of acidity, Sauvignon Blanc prospers in the Wairarapa’s well-balanced silty loam. Over 25% of the wines produced in the Wairarapa are Sauvignon Blanc, making it one of the region’s most popular wine varietals. So while it may not be the obvious choice for some, trying a good Wairarapa Sauvignon is a must!
If you’re unfamiliar with the term "aromatics', this category includes some incredibly popular white wine varieties that have a strong floral aroma—think Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewu?rztramine. Aromatics are one of the top five wine varietals grown in the Wairarapa, with the climate supporting a long growing season and late harvest. Botrytised varieties are also common—this is a technique that enables grapes to form a beneficial fungus that reduces water, increases sugar and brings out flavours that are honeyed and complex.
Syrah is another wine varietal which fares well in the Wairarapa. Commonly known as Shiraz in other parts of the world, Syrah is a medium-bodied dry red wine, heavier than a Pinot Noir but lighter than a Cabernet Sauvignon. A Wairarapa Syrah has been likened to the traditional, ‘old-style’ Syrah grown in the infamous Northern Rhône region of France—spicy, bold and tannic. Hot summer days in the Wairarapa allow Syrah grapes to flourish, producing wines to rival those from France’s Rhône, Australia’s Barossa Valley and California’s Napa Valley.