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New Zealand: appellation system on the cards?

A New Zealand equivalent of a Burgundy Grand Cru may be closer to reality than we think, according to wine writer Oz Clarke.

The wine critic told decanter.com at the annual New Zealand trade tasting last Tuesday that he believes their wine industry has entered into ‘a natural maturity.’

‘New Zealand is entering into the next stage of its development in contemplating and legally recognising its terroirs,’ he said.

In January last year, producers in Central Otago were given a presentation on Burgundy’s appellation system its contemporary application to present-day New Zealand by a group of wine experts led by Jancis Robinson MW.

November 2009 then saw the push for a greater number of recognised Geographical Indications within New Zealand, including the sub-regions of Clevedon and Makatana in Auckland.

David Cox, European director of New Zealand Wine Growers told decanter.com, ‘There is a growing recognition within the wine industry that our viticulture knowledge and experience of “place” has improved dramatically over the last 20 years.

‘It’s often a little hard to enshrine in law, but I believe New Zealand could take the beneficial experiences of the Old World and change the aspects that are hard or confusing for consumers and devise a workable system.’

However Berry Bros wine buyer Simon Field MW pointed out that the appellation systems required ‘minute levels of detail’ and that the Burgundian system had taken ‘several centuries to establish’.

He added, ‘Classifying individual sites may confuse consumers: the greater recognition given to regions in New Zealand has been driven by prestigious producers in these areas, not the other way round.’

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Written by James Lawrence

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