Aromatic White Wines – June 2022

What is an aromatic white wine? All white wines have aromas, so why are those from some grape varieties put in this category, but not others?

Aromatic white wines are produced from varieties that give off high amounts of aromas – floral, spicy, herbal, citrusy. This reflects their relatively high level of terpenes – aromatic compounds found in such plants as pine and lavender. Aromatic whites have high levels of monoterpenes, a terpene subgroup that is often found in essential oils, which creates their typically floral, fruity scents.

Two of New Zealand’s biggest-selling aromatic white-wine varieties, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, have their own, separate tasting each year in the Buyer’s Guide. This tasting was focused on several other important – although smaller volume – aromatic white wines, including Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Albarino, Gruner Veltliner, Muscat and Viognier.

Riesling, the great grape of Germany, is New Zealand’s fourth most extensively planted white-wine variety, but between 2007 and 2022, its total area of bearing vines has fallen from 868 to 634 hectares. Gewürztraminer, by contrast, is showing signs of rising interest – its area of bearing vines has risen from 85 hectares in 1998 to 194 hectares in 2022.

Of all aromatic white-wine varieties to emerge in New Zealand during the past decade, Albariño, popular in Spain and Portugal, is arguably the most exciting, with 56 hectares bearing in 2022. Gruner Veltliner, Austria’s favourite white-wine variety, with 40 hectares in production here in 2022, is also stirring up significant interest.


Best Buys

Sugar Loaf Marlborough Riesling 2019, 4 1/2 stars, $20

Zephyr Marlborough Pinot Gris 2021, 4 1/2 stars, $24


Treat Yourself

Astrolabe The Farm Marlborough Dry Riesling 2020, 4 1/2 stars, $27

Johanneshof Marlborough Gewürztraminer 2021, 5 stars, $35