“Wines from Way Down Under” this week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©

Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

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Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula, give the gift of sleep this holiday season  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine and wine accessory gifts located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana. 

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©  I’m enthused to share with you information about a little known wine region that is Down Under, and I mean really Down Under.  This little know wine country I’m referring to is located on the South Island of New Zealand.  Central Otago is the southernmost wine country in the world.

New Zealand is known for its naturally beautiful coastline, majestic mountains, rolling hills and desirable weather, especially if you grow grapes and make wine.  If you think Lord of The Rings and about extreme bungee jumping this really captures the New World enthusiasm of winemaking in the land way down under.

New Zealand North and South Island Wine Regions

New Zealand North and South Island Wine Regions


In New Zealand there are two islands, North and South, that both produce magnificent wines.   There are 10 recognized wine regions within New Zealand, but five of them stand out as the recognized areas of importance.  The North Island of New Zealand has three major wine regions:

  1. Hawkes Bay that produce Bordeaux Blends, Chardonnay, and Syrah
  2. Martinsborough/Wairrarpa produces Pinot Noir
  3. Gisbourne is a Chardonnay region

The South Island includes the very well known wine region of Marborough and the lesser known wine country of Central Otago.  The famous Marlborough region is known throughout the world for their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wine.  Central Otago produces Pinot Noir that is both distinct and a great example of wine that is true to the varietal standard.

The North Island’s climate is warmer and has much higher humidity than the South Island that enjoys hot dry summer days with cooler nights, particularly in the Central Otago region.  Autumns are crisp and cool while winters can be very snowy and cold.  Summer days are long and the winter days are short and at 45° latitude the Central Otago wine region is the most southerly grape growing region of the world.  The vast differences in climate between the North and South islands typically separates their grape harvest by 6-7 weeks.

Historically the economy of the Central Otago region has thrived on sheep farming, fruit orchards, and due to the natural majestic beauty of the South Island  skiing and tourism.  The steady growth of the wine industry is having a positive impact on the country’s economy.

New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines are today recognized as world class wines.  The winemaking industry is so young in New Zealand that it is just now beginning to understand the full potential of the soil and the weather.  There are over 25 different grape varietals planted in the various wine countries of New Zealand, all with great potential.  75% of all grape vines in New Zealand are less than 10 years old.  Pinot Gris and Syrah are two varietals that are up and coming to watch for from this land way down under.

Ninty Percent of the Sauvignon Blanc produced in New Zealand comes from the Marlborough wine region.  Over 50% of all the wineries in New Zealand are located in this area also.

New Zealand’s proximity to the International dateline provides its grapes the first place in the world for the vineyards to bask in the early morning sun.  Did you know that the wine produced in New Zealland is 80% white and 20% red?

To give you a little perspective on how young the wine country of New Zealand is in 1985 there were only 100 recognized wineries.  Today there are nearly 1,000 wineries in New Zealand and as I mentioned previously 75% of the vines are less than ten years old.  The first officially recorded vintage of wine made in New Zealand was in 1836.  But it was during the Gold Rush era of the 1860’s that growing grapes and the thought of winemaking began in earnest so they have been dabbling in winemaking for a long time.  It was in 1986 though the New Zealand government offered grape farmer’s cash subsidy to anyone of them who uprooted the high volume producing Muller Thurgau grapes and dedicate their land to producing high quality wine grape varietals of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir.  Make no mistake now their varietal wines are some of the best in the world.

In 1996 there were only 1,000 acres of vineyards dedicated to the Pinot Noir grapes, but today there are nearly 15,000 acres dedicated.  There will be much more in the near future though as the young winemakers of New Zealand have persisted and now better understand the Terroir of this beautiful land down under, some of the finest Pinot Noir in the world is being produced there.  In fact it is not uncommon to find winemakers from the United States whose focus is Pinot Noir and have either gone to school or interned in New Zealand.

New Zealand touts itself as the Sauvignon Blanc capital of the world.  These incredible wines are known for their aromatics.  New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s are often described as pungent wines that are a bit aggresive, herbaceous, tropical, with nuances of grapefruit and zesty lime flavors.  Some are even said to smell like cat pee.  How can you not love that, truly the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s are incredible wines that I encourage you to try.  Dog Point is one of my personal favorite Sauvignon Blanc wines.

Shanagolden vineyard, Waitiri Creek

Shanagolden vineyard, Waitiri Creek

Next week Paula Ramage co-owner of Waitiri Creek Winery will be joining me on the radio show.  Paula will be the first female winery owner featured on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© and I’m very excited to introduce you to her.  We are going to learn all about the wines of Waitiri Creek and the South Island of New Zealand in general.  Waitiri Creek produces Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay wine of distinct character.  I’ll see you on the radio wine friends.

This week’s featured wines 2011 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc and 2010 Sherwood Estate Pinot Noir.  Both of these selections are available at Liquid Planet in the heart of Downtown Missoula.

2011 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc

This wine has a straw green color in the glass.  The nose is an melody of aroma, experience the allure of tropical fruit, ripe citrus, lemongrass and wonderful passionfruit.  On the palate the Dog Point delivers subtle texture, crispness, nice acidity, and a hint of mineral.  This wine pairs nicely with seafood, pale mild cheeses, or white meats.  Drink now or cellar for up to three years.

2010 Sherwood Estate Pinot Noir

This very nice Pinot Noir from Sherwood Estate is a fruit forward wine lead by rich plum and earthy tones on the nose.  The palate has a sweet entry and a rich mouthfeel that is balanced and well structured, supported with refined tannins.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"


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