ENTRIES IN: Wineries rise to the challenge of new sustainability criteria

20 October 2010

  • Air New Zealand Wine Awards entries solid despite challenging year
  • 79 per cent of Sauvignon Blanc entries are sustainable
  • Pinot Noir varietal receives the most entries for 2010

New Zealand wineries have entered almost 1,600 (1,586) wines into this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards with almost 40 per cent of entries being sustainable wines.

New Zealand Winegrowers’ global marketing director Chris Yorke is delighted with the strong entry numbers given the challenging economic environment and with the introduction of new sustainability criteria for this year’s awards.

From this year, wines grown and entered from the 2010 vintage onwards must be recognised as being 100 per cent sustainably produced. This only applies to wines entered from the 2010 vintage.

The introduction of the new criteria has led to an increase of almost 140 per cent in sustainable entries over last year – moving from 261 to 621.

“Sustainability has been a focus of the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and the wine industry for many years. Sustainable entries totalled 39 per cent of this year’s entries and it’s very encouraging to see that wineries in New Zealand are responding so positively to the challenge of sustainable wine production and the enhanced entry criteria,” said Mr Yorke.

“The entry numbers demonstrate that the industry values both the competition itself and producing sustainable, quality wines as we move towards the industry goal of 100 per cent sustainability by 2012.”

Organised and owned by New Zealand Winegrowers, the Air New Zealand Wine Awards is the country’s most prestigious wine competition, and regarded as the official competition of the New Zealand wine industry.

Varietal and regional highlights
Across the various classes, Pinot Noir had the highest number of entries (310). However, it was still the white wine varietals that had the more significant numbers including: Sauvignon Blanc (276) followed by Chardonnay (210) and Pinot Gris (165). Of the ten wine regions, Marlborough had the most entries (610), followed by Hawke’s Bay (327) and Otago (205).

Strong in sustainable entries were Nelson and Marlborough, with well over half of entries from these regions (68 per cent for Nelson and 53 per cent for Marlborough) being sustainable.

Over three quarters of entries in both the up-and-coming Rosé class and the Sauvignon Blanc class were sustainable entries.

Definition of sustainability
Sustainability means:

  • 100 per cent of grapes that go into the wine are accredited/certified through an independently audited sustainability programme
  • 100 per cent of the winemaking and packaging facilities used in the production of the wine are accredited/certified through an independently audited sustainability programme.

2010 Air New Zealand Wine Awards entries by class including sustainable entries;

Class Name (Total Wines, Sustainable Wines, % of Total)

  • Sparkling (62 wines submitted, 8 sustainable – 12.9%)
  • Gewürztraminer (57 wines submitted, 28 sustainable – 49.1%)
  • Pinot Gris (165 wines submitted, 93 sustainable – 56.4%)
  • Riesling (125 wines submitted, 54 sustainable – 43.2%)
  • Sauvignon Blanc (276 wines submitted, 217 sustainable – 78.6%)
  • Chardonnay (210 wines submitted, 43 sustainable – 20.5%)
  • Viognier (31 wines submitted, 9 sustainable – 29.0%)
  • Other White Varieties & Blends (16 wines submitted, 8 sustainable – 50.0%)
  • Dessert Wine Styles (32 wines submitted, 6 sustainable – 18.8%)
  • Rosé (35 wines submitted, 28 sustainable – 80.0%)
  • Pinot Noir (310 wines submitted, 74 sustainable – 23.9%)
  • Merlot (56 wines submitted, 15 sustainable – 26.8%)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon & Blends (84 wines submitted, 8 sustainable – 9.5%)
  • Syrah (73 wines submitted, 10 sustainable – 13.7%)
  • Other Red Varieties, Unspecified or Blended Reds (24 wines submitted, 3 sustainable – 12.5%)
  • Current Vintage Reds (4 wines submitted, 4 sustainable – 100.0%)
  • Emerging Wine Styles (26 wines submitted, 13 sustainable – 50.0%)

Total (1,586 wines submitted, 621 sustainable – 39.2%)

The Air New Zealand Wine Awards is an independent competition with a rigorous judging process undertaken by a team consisting of experienced international and local judges. All wines in the competition will be judged over three days from 1 – 3 November at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland.
The 21-strong judging team is chaired by Steve Smith, Master of Wine (MW), and includes four international judges including:

  • Eric Arnold (United States) author of First Big Crush, which outlines Arnold’s year working at Allan Scott vineyard in Marlborough.
  • Stephen Brook (United Kingdom), author The Wines of California, and contributor to a number of wine publications based in Austria, Sweden and Korea.
  • Ben Edwards (Australia) president of Sommeliers Australia and director of The Wine Guide (a global sommelier consultancy).
  • Philip Rich (Australia) founder and partner of Prince Wine Store in South Melbourne, one of the largest independent fine wine stores in Australia.

Full biographies of the international judges.

Key Dates
Monday 1 to Wednesday 3 November: Judging at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Wednesday 10 November: Medal-winning wines announced
Saturday 20 November: Trophy, Elite Gold and Pure Elite Gold medal-winners announced at Air New Zealand Wine Awards gala dinner