The diversity in activities as well as wine are clear as one travels through New Zealand’s south island from Nelson to Queenstown. After just one week in the south island, I have enjoyed gorgeous weather, spectacular landscapes, and magnificent wine and cuisine. The Nelson region provided a much more relaxed atmosphere where I kayaked along the Abel Tasman National Park, starting at Kaiteriteri bay.
The water was so clear and blue and the view up to the mountains was particularly beautiful. More outdoor adventurous are soon to come in the adrenaline-rushed town of Queenstown.
As for my wine experiences thus far, I visited two major wine regions near Nelson. One is just west of Nelson and the other is due east in Marlborough. According to NZWine.com, “The longer, cooler growing conditions in the Southern regions promotes stronger and more vibrant fruit flavors together with higher acidity levels. Well over two thirds of Sauvignon Blanc vines are to be found in Marlborough.” To the east, I stopped at Neudorf and Himmelsfeld. Both produced excellent Sauv. Blancs, but Himmelsfeld’s wines in particular showed unique, aromatic characteristics that are the outcome of care and consistency of the winemaker, Elizabeth Eggers. Beth was kind enough to give us a tasting of her range of wines, which included a “cool climate” Cab and Chardonnay unlike any I’ve ever tasted.
To the east of Nelson, in the popular region of Marlborough, there were far more stops on the wine trail on the drive to Christchurch. Focusing on recommendations and notable vineyards in this region, there were 5 cellar door stops including: Allan Scott, Hanz Herzog, St. Clair, Cloudy Bay and Huia. All of Herzog’s wines were splendid, including their Pinot Noir, which was unexpected for the region. My favorite Sauv. Blanc from this mix was Huia, but could have tied with St. Clair. Since Marlborough is know for their Sauv. Blanc, it was hard to distinguish a clear favorite when all of them are so good. What I consistently found, aside from Herzog, was that most of the Pinot Noirs were a little too tannic for my taste and tended to be more earthy and burgundian than the California Pinots I love. However, I am yet to explore the Central Otogo region, which is known for their Pinots. From the few I have already tried around Queenstown, I have a feeling that I will find some new gems in the Central Otogo region I will need to keep my eye out for when I get back to Ireland.