By Daniel Wright Destination Specialist

What inspired you to start The New Zealand Cellar?

Working at the forefront of the hospitality industry for over a decade, it was glaringly obvious that there was a lack of availability of New Zealand’s finest wines here in the UK. I wanted to showcase the diversity and quality that New Zealand wines offer on an exciting new platform.

How many wine producers do you currently work with?

Currently we work with 60 producers, each of which carry the ethos we want to acknowledge. We are constantly canvassing the New Zealand market for more top-quality producers to add to our portfolio, with dozens more wines to be added in the coming months.

A wine tasting flight

A wine tasting flight

Matamata in Waikato, one of New Zealand's top wine-producing regions

Matamata in Waikato, one of New Zealand's top wine-producing regions

UK wine drinkers are broadly familiar with Marlborough’s signature Sauvignon Blancs. What other varieties and terroirs excel in this region?

It is certainly difficult to go past the world-renowned Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc! But the diverse terroir that Marlborough offers means there are many grapes that thrive here, from interesting examples of Gruner Veltliner to 100% Malbec and also Syrah. How do the South Island’s other wine regions differ? The differences between Marlborough and the more southerly regions are mainly due to the large range of Alps that run nearly the entire breadth of the island. Canterbury and Waipara enjoy cool climates and long ripening periods which, combined with unique soil profiles, excel in producing aromatic wines. Move further south to Central Otago and Waitaki, home to some of the most southerly vineyards in the world, and you have the most extreme and dramatic climatic conditions but all with relatively free-draining soils. The unique terroir and climate conditions allow Pinot Noir to thrive, and Central Otago is said to be the first region in the world to rival Burgundy.

What are the main features of the North Island’s wines?

The North Island offers a much warmer climate with some very exciting boutique producers and unique wines. Gisborne, for instance, produces full and fragrant wines thanks to the long sunshine hours. Much of the North Island basks in the same glory, allowing full-bodied and intensely flavoured wines to excel.

What is the typical profile of a New Zealand Cellar winemaker?

There are many different styles, techniques, cultures and traditions, but I think one of the most significant qualities that shines through is the ability to allow the wine to show a sense of place, to carry the ethos and integrity of the people behind the vineyard.

Which is the largest producer whose wines you carry, and how does the output of the smallest compare?

Our main aim is to support smaller producers, but there is plenty of recognition to be given to larger producers who played an enormous role in the global recognition of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Kim Crawford is one of these larger producers and their sp Spitfire Sauvignon Blanc is one of best examples produced on a larger scale. The output difference is huge compared to, say, Bell Hill whose wine I need to reserve six months in advance as the production is so limited you can barely get your hands on it!

Finally, which New Zealand wines would you pair with:

Fish & chips: Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay

Roast beef and yorkshire pudding: Kalex Pinot Noir

Chicken tikka masala: Seresin Reserve Chardonnay

The Providores’ crab and coconut laksa: Rippon Gewurztraminer

Pavlova: Pegasus Bay Finale