The French may have given the world the term terroir – the wonderful alchemy of influences from soil and aspect and climate and winemaking that creates the unique character of a wine – but on the other side of the world, New Zealand winemakers have found their own distinctive ‘magic’ place.
Tūrangawaewae (pronounced: too-runguh-why-why) means "my place" in Māori. It describes a uniquely New Zealand approach to winemaking that includes terroir but also embraces the surrounding landscape, the characteristic climate, and the history and spirit of a place and the people who make it their home.
As a concept that expresses connectedness and belonging to the land, tūrangawaewae is a creative force that is producing exciting new styles of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
The rise of a modern classic
New Zealand is no stranger to innovations in wine. It is the place where a humble vine that grows in southwest France became a wine world superstar. Sauvignon Blanc likely derived its moniker from the french word “Sauvage,” meaning wild, as the vines are reminiscent of wild grapevines. As the adventurous young winemakers who planted New Zealand's first Sauvignon vines in the 1970s discovered, a happy combination of ideal climatic conditions and skilful viticulture and winemaking transformed the sauvage qualities of the grape into the characteristic "green" aromas and mouth-filling tastes of classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Success at local and international wine competitions soon followed, along with a chorus of praise from international wine critics. By the early 1990s New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was established as the global benchmark for the style and now accounts for over 85% of wine exported from New Zealand. It is a remarkable success story that is celebrated around the world every year. May 1, 2020 marks the tenth International Sauvignon Blanc Day.
Sauvignon classics to come
Although Sauvignon Blanc is grown throughout New Zealand’s 10 wine regions, the province of Marlborough is its undisputed heartland. Located in the South Island’s northeast where broad alluvial plains rise from the coast and are sheltered by mountain ranges, Marlborough's long and steady cool-climate growing season creates Sauvignons with impressive aromas, distinctive fruit characteristics and extraordinary purity and intensity of flavours.
Like the rest of New Zealand, Marlborough's geographically diverse landscapes are spectacularly beautiful and bountiful, and wine touring here and in every region is enhanced by vibrant communities of artisan producers and excellent restaurants and cellar doors. As you visit world-famous makers of classic Sauvignon in Marlborough and beyond you will also encounter newer producers of emerging styles whose wines are often less overtly powerful but wonderfully complex in the glass. And they are still unmistakably “New Zealand”.
So, while this International Sauvignon Blanc day you can’t visit New Zealand, you can still experience our country through pure and vibrant flavours in our wines. Raise a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and say: tūrangawaewae.