Marlborough is unquestionably New Zealand’s flagship wine region. While not the oldest region in New Zealand, it is easily the largest and it was the Sauvignon Blanc's from Marlborough that put New Zealand wines on the international wine stage.
The Sauvignon Blanc's from Marlborough can be spectacular, intensely flavoured and complex with a temperate climate, unique soils and the early vision of the pioneers helping create wines consistently in the top tier of world wines.
With well over 20,000 hectares of vines in Marlborough and more than 150 registered vineyards, a visit to Marlborough can be a daunting experience. However the region is quite compact and the the variety of vineyards and cellar door experiences are becoming as diverse as the wine styles.
Key to Marlborough’s success is its ancient glacial, deep free-draining stony soils. The extensive braided river system left a threaded legacy of stony sandy loam over very deep gravels. Rapaura is stoniest; Lower Wairau has more loam and thus has greater water retention.
In recent years the winemakers have begun to explore the outlying sub-regions and discovered an even greater diversity of soils and meso-climates that have suited a wider range of wine varieties. It is here that an exciting future for Marlborough lies.
In the southern valleys the heavier clay soils are proving ideal for Pinot Noir and the Aromatic whites, while further south the Awatere Valley is more fragmented, with gravelly silt-loams and wind-blown loess, here elevated sites are typically lower yielding and producing bright, aromatic Pinot Noir and dramatic, distinctive Sauvignon Blancs.