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Welcome to the Wines of Canterbury

Christchurch, with its modern international airport, is the gateway to the scenic South Island of New Zealand. Because of its many parks, tree lined streets and well maintained residential gardens, Christchurch has come to be known as the "garden city". It is also New Zealand's most English city. On a sunny day, you can walk alongside the gently flowing Avon River, to a backdrop of historic stone buildings, green grassed parks and rows of willow trees.

Christchurch sits at the heart of the Canterbury wine region. Located on the Canterbury plains, the soils of the region are stony and alluvial. The climate is hot and dry in summer, and characterised by cold and frosty days in winter. While relatively new to wine - the first vineyard was planted in 1977 - the region is becoming well known for its Riesling and Pinot Noir wines.

Annual wine and food related events include:
  • Wine and Food Festival of Canterbury, February 18, Hagley Park beside Lake Victoria. Enjoy food and wine while being entertained by the Christchurch Symphonia Orchestra.

Regional Vintage Guide

The table below indicates the quality of wine vinatges in the Nelson Region for each of the past ten years. Please note that the information is indicative only and that the quality of grapes grown may vary from one vineyard to another.




Canterbury
Information



1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
Very
good
Average
Below
average
Good
Good
Very
good
Good
Good
Excellent
Excellent
Average

Recommended Wineries of Canterbury

Corbans Private Bin Amberley Riesling is one of the wines that put Canterbury on the wine map. Originally marketed by Robard and Butler, Amberley Riesling came to fame in the leate 1980s and early 1990s with competition success. Made from grapes grown in the Waipara sub-region, Amberley Riesling has earnt a reputation for its consistent quality. The wine is characterised by tight citrus and lime falavours and is widely available.

Corbans
Giesen Wine Estate is one of Canterbury's oldest wineries, the Region's largest winery and, in my opinion, its best winery. Operated by the Giesen brothers - Alex, Marcel and Theo - the winery is best known for its award winning Botrytis Riesling. This wine owes its origins to a fungus known as botrytis cinerea or noble rot. The fungus covers grapes by the bunch, absorbs the water inside the grape and leaves a concentrated nectar of juice within the skin of the grape. The affected grapes are then hand picked and the juice extracted and fermented in stainless steel tanks. The result is a sweet and pungent wine with very high levels of residual sugar (around 100 to 150 gms per litre). In colour the wine is golden, and in taste it is reminiscent of dried fruits, honey and apricot. The wine is not made every year. The 1990 vintage was judged best wine of the Royal Easter Wine Show, and the 1995 vintage awarded close to a dozen gold medals. As well as Riesling, the Giesen brothers produce a very good Pinot Noir, which was awarded a Gold Medal at the 2000 Royal Easter Wine Show, and a good Chardonnay.

Giesen
Winery
Kaituna Valley Wines is owned by Grant and Helen Whelan and produces Canterbury's best Pinot Noir wine. The first vintage was made in 1993 and won the trophy for champion Pinot Noir at the 1995 Royal Easter Wine Show. The 1988 Pinot Noir was judged in 2000 as one of New Zealand's very best red wines by Cuisine magazine. Grapes for these wines are sourced from two vineyards. The Kaituna Valley vineyard was planted in 1977 and is located on the hills of Bank's Peninsula, to the east of Christchurch. It was the regions first vineyard, and was the source of the acclaimed 1982 St Helena Pinot Noir wine. The winery owns a second vineyard located in the Awatere Valley of Marlborough. Production of these wines is small, and sales are by mail order only. To purchase Kaituna Valley wine you will need to contact the winery by telephone on +64 3 347 6729 or by fax on +64 3 347 6450.

Kaituna Valley
Winery
Langdale Wine Estate is fairly new to the region and not fully proven. That said, we think it well worth watching. It's first vinatge was produced in 1994. Most grapes have been grown in West Melton, but are now being planted and harvested in the proven Waipara sub-region of Canterbury. Longdale's Riesling is good, and improves with each vintage. The winery also makes a good Chardonnay and features a restaurant where its wines can be tasted with food. Wine production is increasing, and wines are currently exported to Japan.

Langdale Wine
Estate
Muddy Water enjoyed its first vintage in 1996. It is positioned on the gently rolling slopes of the Waipara Valley. The climate of the sub-region is typified by hot dry summers and long sunny autumns leading to the production of intensely flavoured ripe grapes. Owner Jane East with winemaker Belinda Gould take a hands on approach to the production of small volume premium wines. Low cropping levels result from intense canopy management. All the grapes are hand picked and estate grown. Wines to buy are Pinot Noir and Riesling, which can be tasted in the winery's distictive straw bale tasting room.

Muddy Water
Pegasus Bay is located in the Waipara district of Canterbury, about thirty minutes north of Christchurch. As you approach the winery from the south, you will be struck by its distinctive architectually designed buildings, its carefully planted gardens and large pond. Pegasus Bay's wines are made by Lynette Hudson and Mathew Donaldson. Their annual release is eagerly awaited and the 1999 Riesling is regarded as one of the best ever produced in New Zealand. Pegasus Bay is also well regarded for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Reisling grape however, is particularly well suited to Canterbury. It's a grape that likes to ripen slowly, and if left to untill late Autumn, develops intense flavours. The Pegasus Bay Riesling is characterised by intense citrus and honey flavours, and rewards cellaring for at least three years. Second tier wines from the winery are marketed under the "Main Divide" label. If visiting the winery be sure to sample Pegasus wines with food at the winery restaurant.

Pegasus Bay
Winery




Michael Mills, WinesofNZ.com, 2000, Wellington, New Zealand. No part of this website may be reproduced in any form, electronic or printed, without the permission of Michael Mills and WinesofNZ.com. To contact WinesofNZ.com e-mail us.