New Zealand's first vines were planted back in the early 1800's, but the country has only recently realized that their cool, maritime climate was suitable to growing premium grape varietals capable of making world class wines. Compared to other notable wine nations, New Zealand produces a relatively small amount of wine (one tenth of Australia's output), but what it lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality. New Zealand is composed of two islands, North and South, each of which have their own unique climate and topography. The region and grape varietal most commonly associated with New Zealand's wine success is Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Other regions of note include: Gisborne, known for Chardonnay; Hawkes Bay, a brilliant producer of red Bordeaux varietals as well as Syrah; and Central Otago, New Zealand's Pinot Noir capital.
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