2006 Gold Medal Winners Announced

07 November 2006

Air New Zealand Wine Awards Announce Gold Medal Winners

  • Highest number of entries ever – 89 gold medals awarded
  • Sauvignon Blanc largest category
  • Riesling showed outstanding purity

The quality of wines judged at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards will ensure New Zealand continues its popularity on the international stage, according to chairman of the judges, Brent Marris.

“We saw exceptional wines across all classes during the three-day judging,” he said.

A total of 89 gold medal wines will go on to vie for 18 trophies at the prestigious Air New Zealand Wine Awards on Saturday 11 November in Hawke’s Bay.

Managed by New Zealand Winegrowers, with naming-rights sponsor Air New Zealand, the awards attracted 1,737 entries this year. A panel of 18 local and two international judges awarded wines with 89 gold medals, 261 silver medals and 592 bronze medals.

This year a record 328 entries were received for Sauvignon Blanc, the highest in the awards’ history. Sauvignon Blancs won 19 gold medals, for the first time surpassing Chardonnay which has traditionally been the highest gold medal winning category.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive, Philip Gregan, said it is exciting to see winemakers excel in their profession and take pride in producing a premium product which continues to push New Zealand internationally.

“This year we celebrate 20 years of Air New Zealand’s sponsorship and have seen the competition grow from 444 entries in 1986 to 1,737 entries in 2006. We are looking forward to seeing this competition grow in the future,” he said.

International judge Sam Harrop, Master of Wine, praised the organisation and thoroughness of the judging process. Harrop, a New Zealander based in the United Kingdom, is a winemaking consultant.

Brent Marris said Sauvignon Blanc was an extremely strong class with 19 gold medals awarded. “The high quality fruit harvested in the 2006 vintage has seen excellent wines produced in this class. We can be assured that the high quality 2006 Sauvignon Blanc has hit the international level that it has commanded in the past,” he said.

Pinot Noir wines from the 2005 vintage were awarded 15 gold medals from a class of 243 wines. Mr Marris said that the gold medal winning Pinot Noir wines were of high international quality. “Pinot Noir has generated overwhelming international interest in the recent years. Both 2004 and 2005 vintages have produced exceptional wine which will help to continue this enthusiasm from our markets,” he said.

Syrah wines from the 2005 vintage were awarded four gold medals, up one from last year. Mr Marris was impressed with this category and believes this variety is becoming more adaptable to the warmer regions of New Zealand grape growing. “There were varied styles of Syrah this year which is exciting for this variety,” he said.

Merlot and Merlot predominant blends from the 2004 vintage were awarded nine gold medals. “Those vineyards that achieved ripe fruit and ripe tannin with balanced oak were clearly rewarded for this with gold and silver medals,” Mr Marris said.

Riesling wines won nine gold medals. “Riesling was an exciting class this year. Wines were very fruit focused and drier in style with a lot of purity about them,” said Marris.

Pinot Gris wines won six gold medals, up one from last year. Mr Marris said the Pinot Gris class was once again huge as this emerging variety gains popularity. “The top wines in this class displayed lovely concentration and weight with acid balance being their main strength,” he said.

There were 15 gold medals awarded for Chardonnay. “The top Chardonnays expressed elegance and refinement that consumers would appreciate,” said Marris.

On Saturday night, New Zealand Winegrowers and Air New Zealand will host 800 guests in Hawke’s Bay to experience first-hand, the trophy wines, accompanied by a stunning five course dinner designed by Air New Zealand’s executive chefs – Rex Morgan from Citron in Wellington and Inspire in Queenstown, Peter Gordon from dine in Auckland and The Providores in London, Geoff Scott from Vinnies in Auckland and Govind Armstrong from Table 8 in Los Angeles and Miami.

The Air New Zealand Wine Award trophies will be announced at midnight on Saturday, November 11, 2006.

The medal results for the 2006 Air New Zealand Wine Awards will be available from today on this website and www.wineshow.co.nz and the trophy results will be available from midnight Saturday, November 11, 2006.