Central Otago in bubbles rush

CHE BAKER IN CROMWELL
Last updated 16:51 28/03/2012

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Lovers of Central Otago champagne-style wines will soon have more to choose from as sparkling wine production in the region is set to expand.

Veteran winemaker Rudi Bauer, based at Quartz Reef, said more winemakers in the region were joining the sparkling wine market after seeing the success of other vineyards in the area.

The "leaders of the pack" like Quartz Reef were showing success from their sparkling wine production and the market could expect "steady growth" as more vineyards jump on board, Mr Bauer said.

Mr Bauer said winemakers were building on what vineyards had on offer and were making the most of grape varieties that proved better for making sparkling wine.

Akarua winemaker Matt Connell, based in Bannockburn, said Central Otago was the prime spot to produce top level sparkling wine because of its climate.

The "continental weather" – cool nights and warm days – together with the variety of grapes the region grew meant the region could maintain the acidity levels needed to create high quality sparkling wine, Mr Connell said.

The winery had two sparkling wines, the Akarua Brut and Akarua Brut Rose, made from a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir grapes.

A third sparkling wine, Akarua Brut Vintage, made from 2009 grape harvest would be available at the end of the year.

Part of the reason the winery joined the sparkling market was because it was impressed with other sparkling wines produced in the area, Mr Connell said.

Central Otago was known for its pinot noir and the grapes could be used to make high quality bubbles, he said.

It would emphasise the use of Central Otago pinot noir grapes in its marketing, he said.Sparkling wine was a growth market for New Zealand, as it was not well-known for making them.

Wineries wanting to enter it needed to have the capital to be able to age the wine, he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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