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Marlborough put New Zealand on the international wine stage with its exquisite Sauvignon Blanc in the 1980s. Over 20,000ha of vines (around 2/3 of the national total) are under the care of local wine producers, making it the country’s largest wine region. Marlborough wineries offer a huge range of varieties, from exquisite Pinot Noir to intense Chardonnay, and vivacious aromatics. The diverse soils and meso-climates are revealing exciting new sub-regions, and it is within these unique sub-regions that Marlborough’s future lies.
Climate and Soil
Plenty of sunshine, moderate temperatures and strong diurnal variation are the keys to Marlborough’s piercing fruit intensity, strong varietal expression, and acid retention over long ripening periods.
The eastern coastal aspect bestows cooling sea breezes and protective mountains, providing relief from extreme rain and wind. Long Indian summers occasionally dice with drought but more often allow a wide range of styles to flourish.
Ones of the keys to Marlborough’s success is its ancient, glacial, free-draining soil. The extensive braided river systems deposited a threaded legacy of stony sandy loam over very deep, stony gravels. Rapaura is stoniest; the lower Wairau has more loam and thus higher water retention. Clay is prevalent in the southern valleys, assisting Pinot Noir. While the Awatere is more fragmented, with gravelly silt-loams and wind-blown loess.