Outstanding quality and lower quantities characterize the 2000 vintage in New Zealand. The country’s hallmark Sauvignon Blanc and very promising Pinot Noir varieties in particular have benefited from the difficult growing conditions. After a slow start to the growing season, with unseasonably cool weather, a hot and relatively sunny March helped the smaller than normal berries to ripen, so harvest took place at the normal time. The fact that the weather was less damaging than might have been expected can be attributed to improved viticulture methods in New Zealand. As the main cool-climate wine producer in the New World, New Zealand is well geared towards achieving excellent results in cooler conditions. Despite the adverse weather, the country’s leading wine producer, Montana Wines, parent company of Brancott Vineyards, reported a crop that was 9% higher than that of 1999. The company also reported a significant shift towards high-quality varietal grapes. These positive developments were largely due to the company’s continuing investment in new vineyards over recent years. It is expected that the growth in Brancott Vineyards’ quality grape resource will accelerate further over the next three vintages, as new plantings in Marlborough, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay come into crop. Cold climatic conditions at the time of flowering meant that this year’s Sauvignon Blanc crop was well down on expectations. The quality, however, is expected to be exceptional, with the zingy acids and herbaceousness that have made New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc a worldwide favorite. Likewise, this year’s Pinot Noir could be the best ever. This is the result of smaller berries that produced great concentration, ripe tannins and excellent balance. The wines are expected to be intense, with soft, fine tannins — further boosting an exciting variety that seems set to equal or surpass the success of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

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