In 1819 English missionaries first brought vines to New Zealand. For the next 150 years or so, most of the wine produced there was for local consumption. That began to change in 1973, when Sauvignon Blanc was planted in Marlborough. Within the next decade, the wines and the region became New Zealand’s most famous.
Althogh the nation is, surprisingly, made up of around 600 islands, there are two primary ones, the aptly named North and South Islands. Predictably, most of its regions have a maritime climate. The country is divided along its length by a spine of mountains, which causes a rain shadow that keeps things fairly dry on the eastern side, where almost all of the grape growing is done, while it’s quite rainy on the west.
In 1987 Brent and Shirley Rawstron started farming 7.5 acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on the banks of the Halswell River in Canterbury, New Zealand. They soon re-planted to almost all Pinot Noir, which they found to be much more suited to the property. Eventually the estate expanded to 15 acres, all on north-facing slopes. In 2004, they pressed into Marlborough in search of additional desirable vineyard sites, and the couple now owns 100 acres of vineyards there, planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. Like 98% of New Zealand’s production, their grapes are sustainably grown.
Marlborough offers a special combination of climatic features that create the ideal site for bright, ripe, balanced fruit: plentiful sunshine, long, warm summer days, and cool nights that keep acidity in the grapes. These conditions particularly suit Sauvignon Blanc. Soils vary considerably in the region, allowing subtle differences between and even within vineyards. These are divided into blocks according to soil and aspect, and are harvested and vinified separately.
The name Waipapa Bay comes from a spot on the Pacific Ocean known for surfing and marine life. It is located halfway between the Canterbury home of the Rawstrons (native New Zealanders) and their vineyards in Rapaura.
The Waipapa Bay line is imported by Broadland Drinks, a 50-year-old international wine business with a British heritage. It has also been co-owner of the brand since 2012.
Waipapa Bay Pinot Noir Rosé
This 100-percent Pinot Noir hails from the Rawston’s estate in Canterbury. To produce the wine’s pale salmon hue, the skins are in contact with the wine for the first 24 hours. This rosé has aromas of strawberries and summer fruits, with a dash of spice. Carried by a medium body, on the palate there are plenty of red fruit flavors, especially raspberries and strawberries, which linger on the long finish. These come with a grapefruit-like zippy acidity. Serve lightly chilled. The ABV is 13%.
Note: In 2001, a small group of winemakers created The Screwcap Initiative, and the closure has become ubiquitous there, with 99% of New Zealand’s wines now released under screwcap. The closure has gained major acceptance from Australian producers as well.
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