ENTRIES IN: Sustainable entries fly in for the 25th Air New Zealand Wine Awards

11 October 2011

  • Air New Zealand Wine Awards entries solid in country’s most prestigious wine awards
  • Over 75% of wines entered are sustainable
  • 2011 marks 25 years of Air New Zealand sponsorship

New Zealand wineries have entered over 1,500 (1,504) wines into this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards with over 75 per cent of entries being sustainable wines.

The introduction of the new sustainability criteria in 2010, has led to an increase of over 330 per cent in sustainable entries since 2009 (moving from 261 to 1132) and an increase of over 80 per cent in sustainable entries over last year (moving from 621 to 1132).

Any 2010 or 2011 vintage wine must be recognised as being 100 per cent sustainably produced to enter the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

New Zealand Winegrowers’ Global Marketing Director Chris Yorke is delighted with the strong entry numbers given the challenging economic environment and the stringent sustainability requirements for entry.

“Sustainability has been a focus of the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and the wine industry for many years. Sustainable entries totalled over 75 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.

25 Year Partnership
The Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2011 marks a 25 year partnership between the Awards and New Zealand’s national airline, with Air New Zealand becoming the naming rights sponsor of the Awards for the first time in 1987.

Over the last 25 years, nearly 30,000 wine entries have been submitted, and evaluated by more than 130 different judges, including over 50 international judges.

Air New Zealand General Manager Marketing and Communications, Mike Tod, says the airline is proud to continue its long-time involvement with the awards, and to have reached the 25-year milestone.

“It’s great to see an industry that is so important to our international reputation taking such a strong stance on sustainable business practices, and certainly Air New Zealand has a strong focus on initiatives to minimise our impact on the environment.”

Air New Zealand serves around 6.5 million glasses of wine each year to airline passengers. Mr Tod says it has been fascinating to see the evolution over the past quarter-century to the wide selection of wines served onboard today, with new varietals complementing well-known New Zealand wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Varietal and Regional Highlights
This year, entries in the Pinot Noir class (272) have narrowly beaten Sauvignon Blanc class entries (269). However, it was still the white wine varietals that had the more significant entry numbers including: Chardonnay (174), followed by Pinot Gris (170). Of the ten wine regions, Marlborough had the most entries (636), followed by Hawke’s Bay (346) and Otago (164).

Sustainable entries were strong from Marlborough, Nelson and Auckland regions, with over 80 per cent of entries from these regions (86 per cent for Marlborough, 84 per cent for Nelson and 81 per cent for Auckland) being sustainable.

One hundred per cent of the Rosé class were sustainable, with 98 per cent of the Sauvignon Blanc class and 94 per cent of the Pinot Gris class containing 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.

2011 Air New Zealand Wine Awards entries by class, including sustainable entries;

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

  • Sparkling (63 wines submitted, 12 sustainable – 19.0%)
  • Gewurztraminer (54 wines submitted, 46 sustainable – 85.2%)
  • Pinot Gris (170 wines submitted, 160 sustainable – 94.1%)
  • Riesling (121 wines submitted, 94 sustainable – 77.5%)
  • Sauvignon Blanc (269 wines submitted, 263 sustainable – 97.8%)
  • Chardonnay (173 wines submitted, 131 sustainable – 75.3%)
  • Viognier (27 wines submitted, 24 sustainable – 88.9%)
  • Other White Varieties & Blends (17 wines submitted, 14 sustainable – 82.4%)
  • Dessert Wine Styles (41 wines submitted, 28 sustainable – 68.3%)
  • Rosé (46 wines submitted, 46 sustainable – 100.0%)
  • Pinot Noir (272 wines submitted, 177 sustainable – 65.1%)
  • Merlot (62 wines submitted, 44 sustainable – 71.0%)
  • Cabernet Sauvignon & Blends (71 wines submitted, 21 sustainable – 29.6%)
  • Syrah (74 wines submitted, 42 sustainable – 56.8%)
  • Other Red Varieties, Unspecified or Blended Reds (18 wines submitted, 8 sustainable – 44.4%)
  • Current Vintage Reds (5 wines submitted, 5 sustainable – 100.0%)
  • Emerging Wine Styles (20 wines submitted, 17 sustainable – 85.0%)

Totals (1,485 wines submitted, 1,117 sustainable – 75.2%)

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 25 – 27 October at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland.

The 21-strong judging team is chaired by Steve Smith, Master of Wine (MW), and includes three international judges including:

  • Charles Metcalfe (United Kingdom), wine critic, well known for presenting wine reports on ITV’s ‘This Morning’, ‘Great Food Live’ (UK TV), ‘Taste Today’ (Taste RV CFN), founder of Wine International magazine and currently co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge.
  • Joe Czwerinski (United States), Tasting Director and Senior Editor of ‘Wine Enthusiast’ magazine.
  • Michael Hill Smith MW (Australia), wine producer, international wine judge, wine consultant and wine writer, awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for his contribution to the Australian Wine Industry and the first Australian Master of Wine.

Full biographies of the international judges.

Key Dates
Tuesday 25 to Thursday 27 October: Judging at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Friday 4 November: Medal-winning wines announced
Saturday 12 November: Trophy, Elite Gold and Pure Elite Gold medal-winners announced at Air New Zealand Wine Awards gala dinner