Identifying New Zealand Sauvignon blanc terroirs

The concept of terroir is well established in the ‘old world’ wine industry but its use is still relatively new in New Zealand. Marlborough Sauvignon blanc has become a benchmark for Sauvignon blanc around the world. However, under The NZ Geographical Indications (Wines and Spirits) Registration Act 2006, this label covers all the Sauvignon blanc wines from Marlborough irrespective of brand, sub-region or production method. This is not atypical for a young industry, as it takes many years to understand the subtleties of a ‘terroir’ with its own ecophysiological conditions.
To identify distinctive terroirs, a collaborative project with New Zealand Sauvignon blanc grape producers has been initiated. This study investigates the typicality of individual commercial juices. About 100 Sauvignon blanc juices have been collected from throughout New Zealand during harvest 2011, but with the majority coming from Marlborough. Sub-samples of these juices were analysed for a number of compounds and 700-ml ferments wines were made. Fermentation characteristics were recorded and all wines were chemically analysed. A grower survey on vineyard practices was conducted. GIS technology was used to map vineyard practices, soil type and the geological and climatic conditions as well as juice and wine characteristics. The information that has been gathered will help to define identifiable New Zealand terroirs.

Authors: Marc GREVEN (1), Laure RESSÉGUIER (2), Victoria, RAW (1), Claire GROSE (1), Richard OLIVER (4), Roger HARKER (3)

(1) The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, Marlborough, P.O. Box 845, Blenheim, New Zealand
(2) ENITA de Bordeaux, 1 Cours du Générale de Gaulle, 33175 Gradignan, France
(3) The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, Mt Albert, Private Bag 92 169, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
(4) The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, Private Bag 3230, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand

Keywords: Terroir, Marlborough, Sauvignon blanc, GIS

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