Lake Taupo and New Zealand Wines

Although the Lake Taupo region has not gained a reputation for being a wine-producing area, it still offers several good opportunities for you to sample fine New Zealand wines.

One wonderful opportunity is at Scenic Cellars, which has the distinction of being the largest retail wine shop in New Zealand, with 4,000 labels and 10,000 bottles offered, including many rare varieties. Scenic Cellars offers tastings through an Italian system called Enomatic. When you make your selection among the 32 available wines, a push of a button along with a token fee provides a 25ml pour. This is a great opportunity to try before you buy, taste varieties from all over the world, or to experience something new.

The luxury and boutique lodges provide additional opportunities for wine tasting. A few of the properties offer free pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres and drinks, allowing guests a fantastic chance to sample New Zealand wines within a relaxed and sociable environment. Some even provide wine and beer for free whenever guests would like it.

Another great idea is to drive to Hawkes Bay, which is located two hours southeast of Taupo. There are more than 30 wineries in Hawkes Bay, and there are free wine tastings available at most locations.

Then world has acknowledged, with critical acclaim, the wines of New Zealand. The Marlborough region produces Sauvagnon Blancs that are widely recognized as the world’s best. The New Zealand Pinot Noir is quickly gaining a similar status. Our Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Bordeaux-style reds, and Syrah are quite popular in New Zealand, but less renowned abroad.

Central Otago: It’s a region surrounded with mountains that hold in heat during the summer, but this makes for more frigid winters. It has made its claim to be Pinot Noir country. But unlike the Sauvignon Blanc, where Marlborough is the undisputed king of regions, incredible Pinot Noir is being made in a number of regions, such as Martinborough, Marlborough, Nelson, as well as Canterbury. This is a similar situation with Pinot Gris.

Very good examples of Chardonnay are available from Nelson, Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, and Gisborne. With Bordeaux-style reds, they are usually blending Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon as well as often either Cabernet Franc or Malbec, it’s difficult to beat the Hawkes Bay area. Syrah also offers some fine varieties, however, both Waiheke Island in Auckland Harbor and Matakana Wine Country, approximately one hour north of Auckland, also have excellent examples.

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