New zealand's rugby players are known as the All Blacks but Irish wine drinkers probably think of their wines as the 'All Whites', as the success of their Sauvignon Blancs seems to have blinded us to the charms of their reds. A recent New Zealand tasting in Dublin was a great opportunity to get a snapshot of how the industry is shaping up.
There was plenty of 2009 Sauvignon on show and it seems to have been a good vintage as the 'A' list of brands all seemed to be on fabulous form. You really can't go wrong with Hunters, Cloudy Bay, Craggy Ranges, Villa Maria, Jackson or Ata Rangi. These aren't cheap, but even big brands such as Montana and Oyster Bay produced more elegant styles in 2009, that's to say citrussy rather than smelling of raw green peppers.
Up to 20 years ago, their reds tasted stalky and green but they really do seem to have cracked it in this new century. Many excellent Pinot Noirs were on show, particularly from Otago, and your only trouble will be finding one you can afford, as many are priced to match wines from Pinot's original home in Burgundy. The other surprising red success is Syrah, particularly from Gimlett Gravels in Hawkes Bay. Again, not cheap, but at times sublime, especially from Craggy Range.
Given that they're now producing a range of colours and styles in a green environment, maybe these vinous All Blacks should promote themselves as the "Rainbow Warriors".