Top 10 cool climate wine regions

6. Central Otago, New Zealand

Grapes ripen in Central Otago

GST: 14.8

Plantings: 1,950ha

Main grapes: 77% Pinot Noir; 12% Pinot Gris; 4% Riesling

Felton Road’s winemaker Blair Walter says using a single index of climate doesn’t provide the whole picture.

“Our GDD summations show that we are similar to Champagne and the Mosel but the ripeness and sugar levels that we can easily achieve in Pinot Noir, for example, would suggest we are quite different”, said Walter. “We have up to 40% higher UV levels in NZ compared to similar latitudes in Europe so this will clearly be playing a part in the way the vines grow and fruit ripens.

“We also experience considerable extremes even in the middle of summer. Almost every growing season we would experience snowfalls on the surrounding mountains (1,400-2,000m) throughout January and February. These temperature drops have a moderating and calming effect on the 30-35°C days we would normally experience during these periods”.

He added: “It is not uncommon to have 20 to 25°C diurnal shifts in the lead up to and during harvest. It’s like ripening the grapes in warm, bright sunshine and then putting them in a fridge at night. I believe it seals in varietal character, fruit intensity, colour and acidity.”

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