New Zealand wines turn Aussie
On a recent holiday in the fairly remote high country in New Zealand’s South Island – not an area rich in fine wine outlets – I made some startling wine discoveries. Namely, several Australian wines under well-known New Zealand labels, including, rather surprisingly, a pinot noir.
Aussies wouldn’t know these wines exist unless they’re in New Zealand. And I don’t tend to buy the cheaper wines, unless that’s all that’s available. And so it was. I found:
The Giesen Estate Shiraz 2016, which declared McLaren Vale on the front label. Typically robust Aussie shiraz: very presentable and decent value. (NZD $23)My companions found it odd that New Zealand wineries would be using Australian wine in their bottles.
Selaks Australia Pinot Noir 2016 has sweetly ripe cherry flavours, some succulence and very good drinkability. (NZD $20)
On the other hand, I also found a 2016 Babich Pinot Noir which was thin and weak, short and pale. Not much chop at any price, but I believe it cost around NZD $25 and came from Marlborough.
And a Ngatarawa Stables Cabernet Merlot 2016, a blend of New Zealand and Australian wines produced by a well-established Hawkes Bay winery. This was also weak, slightly sweet and sorely lacking character. (NZD $19)
My companions found it odd that New Zealand wineries would be using Australian wine in their bottles. But it’s not so unexpected: Australia’s production costs are lower, our strength in red wine complements New Zealand’s in white, and these wineries can evidently import Aussie wine, probably in bulk, and get it into bottle and on the shelf more cheaply than they can equivalent NZ material.
Plenty of Australian wine companies import New Zealand wine (especially sauvignon blanc) either in bulk or bottle and sell it under their own brand, declaring its provenance, of course.
On balance, the cheap Aussie reds won the day, and that cute little Selaks pinot was pretty remarkable. My group preferred it to a grand cru Burgundy one of us had brought over, which cost hundreds of dollars.