Call it a land of snow-capped mountains and crystal-clear lakes, home to New Zealand’s largest glacier, or a gateway to whale watching, Canterbury is many worlds compiled into one. The amazing attributes of this New Zealand region, located in the South Island, don’t end here though. Canterbury’s an essential wine destination where you can find some of the world’s best Pinot Noirs, blessed with a distinct character that’s native to the region. Read on to know more about it.
Also known as “Waitaha” in Maori, Canterbury is the third-largest urban area of New Zealand. The region was first settled by Maori people in the 13th century but was established in its current form only in 1989. Its first vineyards were planted in 1978 though, much before the region’s official existence, showing its potential for viticulture practices.
Canterbury is divided into three sub-regions – Waipara Valley (North Canterbury), Canterbury Plains and Waitaki Valley. Protected by the Southern Alps, the region experiences low rainfall with lots of sunshine, very warm summers and long, dry autumns. Where river deposits, limestone-derived clays and gravel soils benefit the Waipara Valley, Canterbury Plains mainly comprise of shallow, free-draining soils with varying alluvial deposits.
This region’s rich soils and climate perfectly suit the Pinot Noir grape variety. Canterbury Pinot Noir wines are elegant and expressive, showing finesse, depth, supple structure and complexity. Another flourishing variety of the region is the aromatic and crisp Sauvignon Blanc, showing good weight, fine acidity and a mineral core. Aromatic styles, especially Riesling and Pinot Gris, also show great strength in the region. Made in a range of styles, Canterbury Chardonnay (with a rich citrus profile and poised acidity)makes it to one of the top varieties of this region too.
New Zealand is a land of surprises and its wines are no exception, so make sure your cellar is embraced with those lovely drops from this picturesque wine region. Stay tuned for more brief reviews on New Zealand wine regions. There’s always something to explore!