New York (Finger Lakes)
New Zealand is a couple of long skinny Islands in the South Pacific. Stretched out on a map of the northern hemisphere it would reach from Denmark to Italy, or from Washington State to California.
It comes as no surprise then that NZ Riesling can range in style from bone dry and steely to luscious and sweet. Most lean towards an off-dry style with artfully balanced zesty citrus & lime. Young wines often show the fragrant and floral aromas of apple, citrus, lemon & tropical fruit. With age, toasted honey & sometimes kerosene characters can develop.
The cooler (South Island) regions, (Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury and Central Otago) produce the majority of New Zealand’s Riesling, and in recent years there has been an increase in the number of lighter (7.5% – 10% alcohol) wines. These refreshingly light, sweet Rieslings offer a more vivid contrast in style to New Zealand’s other major white wines, and are much closer in style to the classic low alcohol / high acid German model. Expressive minerality can also be a feature of these cooler climate wines.
As Riesling works its way up through the progressively warmer regions on the North Island it ripens differently, presenting different style choices. A number of Hawkes Bay and Martinborough Rieslings tend towards a richer, fuller, drier style, their lower acidity marrying better with the higher alcohol levels.
What is clear is that there are no fixed stylistic formulae for Riesling in New Zealand as of yet. And far from that being a bad thing, New Zealand is blessed in having the potential to produce a broad range of Riesling styles. It’s a bit like having all the producing regions of Germany, France and Australia under one sky.