When you think of Tahiti, chances are that you think of overwater bungalows, palm tree-fringed beaches and endless sunshine, right? There’s no doubt that there’s plenty to love about Tahiti – but a wine cruise might not be the first thought that comes to mind.
Although Tahiti may not be a well-known wine region, it does have a wine industry – and it’s definitely worth checking out. Here are five things you need to know about Tahiti’s wine country.
1. It’s Fairly Undiscovered
If you’re a wine lover, chances are you think your wine knowledge is pretty good. You probably know your Bordeaux from your Barossa Valley, and might even be able to rattle off a few up-and-coming wine regions.
If you don’t know much about Tahitian wine – don’t panic! Tahiti is one of the most unknown wine regions on earth, with only a tiny amount produced each year. Not only does this mean it’s totally okay not to have heard of it, but it also means it’s an incredibly exciting undiscovered frontier.
While many wine regions can rest on their reputation, Tahiti doesn’t. Instead, it is making a name for itself by producing unique and high-quality wines. So, while it’s totally fine that you haven’t heard of it – we recommend checking it out before the crowds arrive!
2. You’ll have to visit the atolls to try it
Tahiti is a part of French Polynesia, which is made up of a number of islands and small atolls – ring-shaped coral reefs encircling a lagoon. The largest island is stunningly beautiful – and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year – however, it’s not ideal for making wine. Those factors that make the island a wonderful tourist destination, like sandy beaches and high humidity, are not great for winemaking.
This means that in order to taste the wine of Tahiti, you have to travel out to the atolls, such as Rangiroa. Here, the climate and soil conditions are much better than the mainland, meaning wine can be produced.
So, as if you needed another reason to head out and enjoy more of this stunning island paradise – there’s great wine waiting for you!
3. The terroir shares similarities with Burgundy
It’s not just a language that Tahiti shares with France. Despite thousands of miles between them, mainland France and Tahiti also share similarities in terroir, the ground where grapes are grown.
The vineyards on Rangiroa share a number of similarities with Burgundy. In particular, the terroir is heavy in limestone, meaning it drains quickly.
That said, the climate of Tahitian wine country is very different, which makes it an exciting and unique place to taste. Tahiti enjoys long, sunny days and almost non-existent winters – a very different climate than many of the world’s great wine regions. This makes it a fascinating place to taste, and a very unique experience.
4. Phylloxera? Fear not!
If there’s one word to strike fear into the hearts of wine makers and wine lovers alike, it’s the disease phylloxera. This unfortunate disease infects grapes, quickly spreading and destroying entire vineyards. In the past, many of the world’s great wine regions have been devastated by the spread of this disease.
Luckily, those winemakers at the forefront of the industry in Tahiti can breathe a sigh of relief. The islands are all completely phylloxera free, as the disease never made it that far. That means that there are some older vineyards, and less chemicals are needed to keep the pests away.
That said, the grapes are sometimes at risk from pesky crabs who come in from the ocean in search of a snack!
Muscat and Carignan are the most well-known varieties
If the other items on this list have got you intrigued, you might be wondering about the must-try varietals. That would be Muscat and Carignan, although you will find a few other grapes on offer.
The reason these two grape varieties are particularly popular in Tahiti is due to their heat resistance. Both do well in flourishing despite year-round warmth and sunshine.
Muscat is a lighter style despite its dark skins and is often made into rose-style wines. Carignan is also known for its dark skins and is frequently used for blending across Spain. Tahiti is more about the straight Carignan – which, at its best, is a bold wine with flavors of dark berries, pepper and licorice. It’s definitely one to try while exploring Tahitian wine country!
Interested in cruising to Tahiti to sample some wine? Luckily, Leonetti Cellar can take you there on a ten-day cruise April 2020! Contact us to learn more about the getaway.