Marlborough is one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions. It has been said that there is no wine anywhere in the world which tastes like the wines of Marlborough. The balance of exceptional purity and vibrancy of its flavours - showcasing engaging aromas, distinctive varietal characteristics and refreshing acidity. The region is producing quality, exciting wines which both surprise and delight wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.
So - what is it that makes the wines of Marlborough so distinctive and recognizable and in such demand? As with any of the great winemaking regions of the world, the answer lies in a mysterious collaboration of the grape vine with the areas climate and soil, strengthened by a desire of pioneering winemakers to express this unique terroir.

 

Marlborough is New Zealand’s flagship wine region which, in combination with Sauvignon Blanc, has put the country on the international wine map. Marlborough offers several different and unique terroirs within the greater region. Marlborough produces around 70% (by volume) of all the wine made in New Zealand and contributes approximately 80% (with Sauvignon Blanc) to wine exports.
Marlborough itself is a brand, a strong brand that has deservedly achieved this acclaim and recognition around the wine world. You place the word ‘Marlborough’ on a wine label as a seal of quality, giving confidence to the customer on what is in the bottle. Just as with ‘Champagne’ - this gives clarity and confidence to the quality and origin of the wine.
It has been said that there are typically two types of wine producers - those who build the reputation of a wine region by crafting quality-focused wines. And those who capitalise on that reputation by not investing in the region, and cutting corners and quality. One rolls up their sleeves and builds the regions standing over time - while the other undermines that standing in a much shorter period. These capitalising producers exist in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Barossa to name just a few... and in Marlborough.
The only defence these pioneers and founding wine families have against these pretenders, is to somehow differentiate authentic, high quality wines from the masquerades. So earlier this year, a group of Marlborough wineries / winemakers got together to discuss and talk through how they could create a new protective standard - currently named ‘Pure Marlborough Wine’ or PMW - *(a logo is yet to be confirmed).

At this inaugural gathering, they discussed and addressed the following key points - where the ‘PMW’ membership would be open to any wine producer who:
Make wines grown from 100% Marlborough grapes.
Are committed to crafting high quality wines.
Conform to maximum grape yield guidelines that will be decided by the committee.
Submit samples for taste and / or technical evaluation as required.
Pay an annual fee to help fund and promote the project.
Members will be allowed to use the trademark and logo *(yet to be designed) of PMW on conforming wines that are bottled in New Zealand.

Several winemakers I have spoken with, have a positive response towards this new concept. There is no pressure to join. But in any case, even if you simply use the name ‘Marlborough’ or any wine region on your wine label - you should be true and honest to your customers and do all that you can, to add to the regions reputation, rather than stealing from it.
Following the above rules to be part of the ‘Pure Marlborough Wine’ classification - will not be possible for all wines, difficult vintages and ranges a winery produces. So with the 'PMW' on the label - you will have clarity and confidence in what you are enjoying.
It’s a start, and there could be further refinements and fine-tuning to be done before 'PMW' is officially launched. Marlborough is a renowned international brand - it deserves to be protected.
For the future success of all New Zealand wine - developing quality standards and a level of protection for Marlborough and for all our wine regions is a great idea.