Wines of Canterbury, New Zealand
      

Canterbury Wine

canterbury-winery-2

Landscape of a Canterbury Vineyard

Canterbury Wine

All over the world appreciation is growing for cool climate wines – and Canterbury is rapidly gaining an international reputation for excellent cool climate wines.

An ideal cool climate is one, which is not too variable in the ripening period, with no extremes of temperatures and gives a long ripening period with an average of 15o-16oC. The influence of the Pacific Ocean on Canterbury creates a maritime climate and tempers extremes of heat and cold. The warm northwest winds, which we get throughout Canterbury, increase total heat accumulation, making it high enough to ripen many varieties of grapes. The wind also dries out the vine canopy, which helps to keep away disease. Crucial to successful grape ripening is sunlight, of which Canterbury normally gets plenty. Our cool climate retains in the grape many volatile aromatics which, being sensitive to heat, are lost in warmer climates. Diurnal temperature variation (cool evenings after warm days) that is typical of Canterbury is also known to intensify flavour precursors in the grapes. However, a cool climate also carries a frost risk, and late spring frosts or early autumn frosts can damage a crop significantly. Finally in a cool climate it may be that the crop will not ripen fully in time to avoid the first frosts of autumn. The technique of crop thinning, to lighten the load and demands on the vine and speed up ripening, is the very technique, which also increases concentrations of phenolics and aromatic in the grapes, and these are exactly what make a really good wine! The first gold medal Canterbury wine was a Pinot Noir produced in 1982, and since then there have been increasing numbers of award winning wines produced from this region.

New Zealand has already created a reputation for Sauvignon Blanc, a wine that in the New Zealand style has fresh grassy and fruity characters. We are now producing internationally acclaimed wines in other styles, all based on the slow ripening of the grapes, slow concentration of sugars and flavours, and slow reduction of acids, all characteristic of a cool climate. Good cool climate wines typically have aromatic primary characters, with a natural balance of sugar and acidity. Acidity is crucial in wine as it enhances volatile aromas, reinforces mouthfeel (giving ‘weight’ to the wine), and lengthens the palate, creating a satisfyingly long aftertaste. A cool climate wine drinks well while young, and good ones can age well for some years, developing interesting tertiary characters.

New Zealand has already created a reputation for Sauvignon Blanc, a wine that in the New Zealand style has fresh grassy and fruity characters. We are now producing internationally acclaimed wines in other styles, all based on the slow ripening of the grapes, slow concentration of sugars and flavours, and slow reduction of acids, all characteristic of a cool climate. Good cool climate wines typically have aromatic primary characters, with a natural balance of sugar and acidity. Acidity is crucial in wine as it enhances volatile aromas, reinforces mouthfeel (giving ‘weight’ to the wine), and lengthens the palate, creating a satisfyingly long aftertaste. A cool climate wine drinks well while young, and good ones can age well for some years, developing interesting tertiary characters.