The New Zealand wine industry prides itself on its green credentials yet has thus far failed miserably on environmentally friendly packaging.
Although the rest of the wine world has turned to lightweight bottles, plastic, and Tetra Paks, we've been stuck in the 20th century with our heavy glass bottles. The lightest bottle available is 450g, yet the Aussies can manage 330g, reducing energy use by 20 per cent and water by 12 per cent.
The problem is that the technology for putting wine in lightweight bottles hasn't reached our shores yet. It's made it to Australia yet these same bottling companies with branches in Auckland haven't shipped it over the Tasman.
Mike Needham, national sales manager for glass bottle manufacturer O-I, admits it's expensive technology to install, and New Zealand is a relatively small producer of wine. But there is good news: "We are going through trials with Villa Maria for a 400g bottle and we are expecting it [to] launch within a month," he reveals.
However, he admits there is little interest in going lighter.
"I don't think people will go down to 350g or 300g. We have found very few people that are interested. The industry has not been as demanding here as in Australia," he adds.
Shame on us. If wine producers (and wine drinkers) wanted to save tons of glass every year and reduce their carbon footprint, that would provide an incentive for suppliers to bring the technology to New Zealand. But first, we have to get it out of our heads that the only way you can package wine is in a heavy glass bottle. There should be more pressure to be more environmentally friendly. Our competitors have had a flying start. Let's not get caught napping.
Mobius Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Marlborough ($9.99 blackmarket.co.nz)
Okay, it's in a 450g bottle and is the world's first carbon-neutral wine. But does it taste any good? It's very drinkable and well balanced, with gentle aromas of passionfruit, gooseberry and capsicum.
Hunky Dory The Tangle 2010, Marlborough ($14.95, Fine Wine Delivery Co, Kingsland Liquor)
Practising both biodynamics and certified carboNZero, Huia makes this melange of pinot gris, gewurztraminer and riesling which gives a bright nose-full of pear, floral notes and talcum powder. Lovely creamy palate with zesty acidity. It's a whole lotta wine for not a lotta money.
Ni'Mia Passito, Sicily ($29.99, La Barrique)
This deliciously sweet and fragrant moscato comes only in a 500ml bottle so it's loads lighter than a standard bottle. Yes, it's cheating, I know. Orange, dried apricot, grape and floral aromatics combine to make an attractive wine that is light and fresh despite residual sugar.