Call for Entries for 2007 Air New Zealand Wine Awards

17 August 2007

Organisers of this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards have called for entries, and announced a number of changes to enhance the prestigious competition.

Chair of Judges, Steve Smith MW, who was appointed in April, said changes were necessary as the New Zealand wine industry continued to rapidly evolve both in New Zealand and overseas.
“We’ve made a number of changes to make New Zealand’s most prestigious wine competition even better,” Mr Smith said.

Highlights of the improvements include:

  • A new trophy – the Champion Sustainable Wine Trophy – will replace the Reserve Wine of the Show (effectively the runner-up) and becomes the second most important trophy awarded
  • An increase in the number of international judges, to four
  • The introduction of a new Elite Gold Medal for classic wines
  • Increasing the qualification criteria for a Bronze Medal
  • An increased emphasis on specialist judges judging specialist classes
  • Increasing minimum production levels for entry into the Open and Limited categories and a new Exhibition category.

Mr Smith said the Awards had a long history of adapting to the changing nature of the New Zealand wine industry including changes such as the introduction of new varietal classes, an increase in the number of judging panels, and changes to medal qualification criteria.

New sustainability awards
Mr Smith said sustainably-produced medal-winning wines would be entitled to add “Pure” in front of the medal awarded – for example, “Pure Gold” or “Pure Silver” – reflecting the recently-launched New Zealand Wine brand “Pure Discovery”.
These wines would in turn compete for the Champion Sustainable Wine Trophy, replacing the Reserve Wine of the Show.
New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said the introduction of the new trophy was timely.

“Since 1995, New Zealand Winegrowers has set the standard for sustainable practices through the initiative, Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand. This year has seen the introduction of a new version of that policy. It’s an area that the New Zealand wine industry has long been committed to and which it is committed to continually improving.”

Increased number of international judges
There will now be four international judges, two from Australia and two from outside Australasia. This year’s Australian judges will be Tom Carson from Yering Station and much-respected wine consultant and judge Mike de Garis.
The two international judges will be Peter McCombie MW, a New Zealander and on-trade wine specialist in the United Kingdom for the last decade and Joshua Greene, editor of the Wine and Spirit magazine in the United States.
“These judges have great experience in tasting, and exceptional palates,” Mr Smith said.

New Elite Gold
The introduction of a new Elite Gold Medal reflects the fact that there are some truly great wines among gold medal winners, which are deserving of special recognition.
“It is a sign that we are growing up, that we are producing some truly classic, great wines. We wanted to create this category to highlight these,” Mr Smith said.

The Elite Gold will be positioned between the Gold Medal and trophies.

Open and Limited categories
There are increased volume requirements in the Open and Limited categories. To enter in the Open category, the winemaker must have produced a minimum 2,500 cases (up from 1,000) and in the Limited category, the wine maker must have produced a minimum 250 cases (up from 100).
“This is to allow consumers more opportunity to purchase the winning wines,” Mr Smith said.
To encourage smaller producers and small specialist batches, a new Exhibition category has been introduced (a minimum of 50 cases must have been produced), with wines in this category competing for two new trophies for the best red and white Exhibition wine.

Integrity of Awards
Integrity has always been paramount for the Air New Zealand Wine Awards. This year we have refined the rules to make it absolutely clear that the wine that is judged is the same wine that consumers can buy on the shelf.

Important dates
Entries close on 21 September with judging to take place over three days (from 5 to 7 November 2007).

The Air New Zealand Wine Awards Gala Dinner will be held in Christchurch on Saturday, November 24.