Chardonnay rules in the second-most productive region in New Zealand, which is also a center for sparkling wine. Sauvignon Blanc is another important white variety, and notable red wines are made from Merlot and Merlot-Cabernet blends.
The biggest star in New Zealand’s wine firmament, Marlborough is famous for its distinctive Sauvignon Blanc with intensely grassy, herbal and gooseberry flavors. While Sauvignon Blanc is the district’s primary white, the key red variety is Pinot Noir.
This district’s winemaking stature is on the rise. A North Island area more akin to the South Island in climate, Martinborough is home to small producers who focus on quality. Look for white wines from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, and reds crafted from Pinot Noir.