Te Moana-o-Raukawa AKA The North South Divide
Te Moana-o-Raukawa was the original name for the strip of water that separates the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Just fourteen miles wide at its narrowest, fierce currents roar through it, creating one of the most dangerous sea-passages in the world. It's now more commonly known as the Cook Strait. (And doesn't it sound very similar to the eight-mile-wide Petlandsfjörð, which separates Orkney from Caithness, and has some of the fiercest, most-dangerous tidal races in the world? Which is now better known as the Pentland Firth...) When Duncan was at the bottom of the North Island in 2017, looking south, Raukawa was as grey and cold as the Firth on any damp February day...with the additional dismality of black sand on the beach.
On Friday 4th May (#sauvignonblancday) and Saturday 5th (#sauvignonblancsaturday - we made that one up) we had a fascinating time comparing four Sauv Blancs from four different parts of New Zealand: two from the North Island, and two from the South:
Clues as to geographical origin were thoroughly covered up, to create a challenge: could our customers identify where on the map these wines came from, just from the taste? And the answer is...no! (But we had a lot of fun finding out.)
As always in these tastings, everyone seemed to have a different favourite. Some preferred the exuberant, full-on fruitiness of Crowded House from Marlborough and the Waipara Springs from North Canterbury; others preferred the more restrained, Sancerre-like style of Jealous Sisters from Wairarapa, and Trinity Hill from Hawkes Bay.
Now, here's the question. The two South Island wines had much in common stylistically (and were, by the way, close to the stereotypical and widely-popular Kiwi Sauv Blanc style that everyone loves.) And the two North Island wines had much more in common with each other than they did with the two southerners. But is this North South divide explained purely by geography, or are choices made in the vineyard and the winery just as - or more - important?
We don't know. But over the course of the month of May we're going to try and find out - quite possibly by asking a few Kiwi winemakers. If anyone can answer that question it should be them, right? Watch this space...