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What Winetopians have to look forward to from the 2021 NZ Wine Vintage

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

Ahead of the launch of 2021 vintage wines, we wanted to get the inside scoop of what to expect from the first whites about to hit the shelves. Ideal weather conditions across the country meant a successful fruit ripening period and we understand there is some great juice flowing from this year’s harvest. However, a difficult Spring in 2020 meant that the amount of it is down considerably in some regions. We called up a few of our friends to get their take on this from across the country.

Starting in the South, overall, Central Otago was not negatively impacted by the spring weather and has pulled a good yield of grapes off their vines. Prophet’s Rock Winemaker Paul Pujol tells us that they had “a strong season across all varieties and the various subregions. But the real stand-out was the balance and flavour of our Pinot Gris, due to its fruit being spectacular and the vintage having great freshness and acidity”. As one of the New Zealand legends when it comes to Pinot Gris, when Paul is being serious, we tend to take note… We’re also thinking spending a few days with the viticulturalists could be a good time during harvest too: “the Prophet’s Rock team take turns cooking during harvest and the best dish this year dish was the seafood Tom Yum soup. The Pinot Gris we matched it with wasn’t afraid of all those big chilli and coriander flavours, not bad for a work lunch!”.


Paul Pujol, winemaker at Prophet's Rock


Further north in Marlborough, Joe at Sugar Loaf wines (Assistant Winemaker) is equally excited about their output. We quote: “the grape quality has been absolutely outstanding. The volume wasn’t there which will upset a few people, but fruit concentration in all the grapes is out of this world and as a winemaker I’m excited about the lot! One of our best years by far”.


Joe Trappitt, assistant winemaker at Sugar Loaf Wines

The Wairarapa was potentially the worst affected in terms of grape production (down 30%) however the region is still optimistic in what has been produced with the same great quality as last year says winemaker Larry McKenna from Escarpment Vineyard. Furthermore, and more importantly the wines to watch out for in the region are the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. But also “the Sauvignon Blanc from Wairarapa is looking really strong, regionally these Sauvignon Blancs are more fruit driven than the fresher Marlborough style people are more familiar with”.


Leeann O'Neill, export & marketing at Escarpment


In Hawke’s Bay, grape production was down around 5% however Unison Vineyard’s Terry Horn commented that this would mean better quality wines for consumers and overall, this is reflected across the region with everyone having a smooth harvest with “no need to rush for weather events”. Grapes were also picked late in the ripening cycle at Unison and are expected to have a really good flavour with slightly higher alcohol content. The reds this year are looking to have less time in the barrel making their Syrah one to look out for. This will be alongside the winery creating a new wine “a barrel fermented Sauvignon Blanc, which will be very special as only 2 barrels are being made”.


Terry & Phillip Horn, owners at Unison Vineyard

Although 2020 was a difficult harvest for the entire country as it took place during the first nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, the fruit and resulting wine was well lauded as some of the best in years. It seems that the spring weather events of the 2021 vintage did not affect all regions equally, and while some regions will be down on the volume of wine they are able to produce, the weather during the grape ripening period was ideal right across the country and so 2021 wines across the board are going to be ones to look out for, and snatch up – if you can get them.

From us at Winetopia we have the events in Auckland (May), Wellington (July) and Christchurch (August) to look forward to and will be working with our Wine Gurus, and winemakers over the coming months to further explore the best of the last two vintages through tastings, talks and masterclasses. There is a lot to look forward to.

Keep an eye on the Winetopia Shop for some of these great wines too – delivered to your door!

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