Think you know New Zealand wine?

‘The speed of change in New Zealand wine leaves me breathless,’ writes Elin McCoy after visiting the country for tastings earlier this year.

The Central Otago landscape. Credit: From Decanter magazine
The Central Otago landscape. Credit: From Decanter magazine

Just before the annual Central Otago Pinot Noir festival in January, I was dutifully working my way through an Air New Zealand tasting in a boring hotel conference room in Queenstown, when I was bowled over by a sparkling wine I’d never heard of before.

The non-vintage No1 Family Estate, Reserve from Marlborough had the fresh, complex, salty, biscuity-rich finesse you find only in Champagne – and very good Champagne at that.

The experience reminded me how much pleasure I get from an unexpected wine discovery, and how many surprises New Zealand always seems to deliver.

These start with the country itself, a place where you feel you can glimpse the planet’s beginnings in landscapes heaved up by earthquakes and scoured by glaciers.

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