Air New Zealand Wine Awards Medal Winners Announced

14 November 2007

  • Aromatic wines win record number of combined gold medals – Riesling wins nine gold medals
  • Pure gold medals awarded to sustainable wines for the first time
  • Outstanding results for full-bodied red wines including record gold medals awarded to Syrah
  • Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir continue to impress

The range of high quality wines being produced in New Zealand is highlighted by the results of the 2007 Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

New Zealand aromatic wines have taken the spotlight and impressed the judges at this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards with a total of 20 gold medals awarded to the Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Viognier and Pinot Blanc varieties.

Organised by New Zealand Winegrowers, the awards attracted 1,540 entries this year. With a new chair of judges, Steve Smith, Master of Wine (MW), and an increased international judging line-up, the highly-experienced judging panel this year awarded 83 gold medals, 227 silver medals and 364 bronze medals.

A total of six pure gold medals were also awarded in the new sustainability category. These wines will go on to vie for the prestigious Champion Sustainable Wine Trophy. In addition, 19 pure silver and 23 pure bronze medals were awarded in this category.

The Air New Zealand Wine Award elite gold medals and trophies, including Champion Wine of the Show and Champion Sustainable Wine Trophy, will be announced on Saturday, November 24, 2007.

New Zealand Winegrowers global marketing director, Chris Yorke, said the results from this year’s awards are an endorsement of New Zealand’s winemaking excellence across a range of varietals which are among the best in the world.

“It is exciting to see high-quality aromatic wines such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer continuing to be recognised. The Air New Zealand Wine Awards celebrates outstanding winemaking and the medals awarded to wines from around the country reflect the high quality of New Zealand’s many winegrowing regions.

“New Zealand is setting the standard in sustainable winemaking and to have six pure gold medals awarded in the first year of competition shows the industry’s commitment to this important area,” he said.

International judge, Peter McCombie, MW, said he was impressed by the high standard of wine and the organisation of the judging.

“The processes involved in running the Air New Zealand Wine Awards are impeccable. The new additions to the rules worked extremely well and consumers can be confident when choosing a wine with an Air New Zealand Wine Awards sticker.

“The Air New Zealand Wine Awards is a highly-respected competition internationally and it is great that the organisers are innovative and continue to make enhancement to the awards processes,” he said.

Riesling was a stand-out performer this year with nine medals being awarded to a varietal that chair of judges, Steve Smith, describes as the latest New Zealand wine to watch.

“To have nine gold medals awarded to Riesling is fantastic. This is an exciting wine variety with this year’s winners showing a range in style from the bone dry to the elegant and lower alcohol wines that have an opportunity to be come classics,” he said.

Other aromatic gold medals awarded include Viognier with three gold medals, Gewurztraminer with five gold medals and Pinot Gris with two gold medals and Pinot Blanc with one gold medal. Mr Smith said New Zealand aromatics have the potential to be the best in the world and international judge, Peter McCombie, MW, agreed. “These emerging varietals in New Zealand are starting to produce world class results,” Mr McCombie said.

Syrah wines from the 2006 vintage were awarded a record seven gold medals, up three from last year. Mr Smith believes these results are impressive for a relatively small and emerging class.

International judge, Tom Carson was the leader of this panel and he is a lover and maker of Syrah.

“Seven gold medals is a significant and international endorsement of this varietal,” he said.

Pinot Noir was awarded 16 gold medals, a record in this class. Mr Smith believes New Zealand continues to show strength in this increasingly popular varietal.

“The 2006 vintage was fantastic. The regional diversification of Pinot Noir from across the country is evident with gold medals being awarded to wines from Central Otago, Canterbury/Waipara, Marlborough and the Wairarapa/Wellington regions,” Mr Smith said.

Sauvignon Blanc was a strong class with 16 gold medals awarded. Mr Smith was particularly impressed with the range of different styles that emerged with Sauvignon Blanc.

“Winemakers are showing the confidence to experiment with different styles in the Sauvignon Blanc class, including a trend towards the elegant and mineral influenced wines that show real class,” he said.

Chardonnay had a strong showing and was awarded 11 gold medals. “The wines awarded were not just about strong, fruity and oaked flavours, they were multi-dimensional wines and included an impressive spread across the regions this year,” he said.

Sparkling wine won two gold medals this year.

“Sparkling wine is a very hard wine style to make and the best wines in this class show characteristics that you’d expect to see in some of the world’s best sparkling wines,” Mr Smith said.

New Zealand Winegrowers and Air New Zealand will host 800 guests in Christchurch at the gala dinner on November 24 and guests will experience the trophy wines first-hand, accompanied by a stunning six course dinner designed by Air New Zealand’s executive chefs – Rex Morgan from Citron Restaurant in Wellington and Inspire at The Spire Restaurant in Queenstown, Peter Gordon from dine by Peter Gordon in Auckland and The Providores and Tapa Room in London, Geoff Scott from Vinnies Restaurant in Auckland and Govind Armstrong from Table 8 in Los Angeles and Miami.

The medal results for the 2007 Air New Zealand Wine Awards will be available from today on www.airnzwineawards.co.nz and www.wineshow.co.nz and the trophy results will be available from midnight Saturday, November 24, 2007.