Last week’s New Zealand Wine’s annual trade tasting in London [despite the rugby ball it was held at Lord’s Cricket Ground] provided confirmation of the rude health of the Kiwi wine industry. The figures are fascinating. 80% of New Zealand’s wine is exported, its wines have the highest average retail price on the UK shelves and in terms of Sauvignon Blanc it has a whopping 45% of the market. That’s simply incredible when you consider that twenty five years ago New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, or for that matter the entire wine industry, was hardly on the map. Despite the ubiquity of the grape in the Loire, Bordeaux and universally as a vin de pays varietal, France by comparison has a dismal 5.1% of the Sauvignon market.
Blimey – I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to type up these notes. Way back last September on a balmy late summer’s day above Smithfield’s meat market in London, Stokes Fine Wines introduced a new estate that they now represent – Man O’ War Vineyards – a quite extraordinary new Kiwi property from Waiheke Island down in the south. It has some of the most picturesque vineyards in all their fine lands [see photo above, courtsey of them]. Wine maker Duncan McTavish, who looks like he may have been a useful Rugby prop forward, introduced the wines in a direct and engaging manner which spoke volumes for his passion and enthusiasm. French wines were his reference points, specifically the Rhone and Burgundy – and this came through in the wines.