Grasshopper Rock Central Otago Pinot Noir takes top spot at Air New Zealand Wine Awards

25 November 2012

A Central Otago Pinot Noir has won top honours at this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

The Grasshopper Rock Central Otago Earnscleugh Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 was awarded the Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show Trophy at a gala dinner in Wellington on Saturday.

This marks the first ever win at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards for the Central Otago wine producer with judges describing the winning wine as “complex, round and rich”. The wine also won the JF Hillebrand New Zealand Ltd Champion Pinot Noir Trophy.

Grasshopper Rock’s vineyard is situated in the southern-most latitude of the winegrowing areas in Central Otago. The five shareholding families of Grasshopper Rock originally met through a common interest in agriculture, with four members involved in rural banking.

Chair of Judges and Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich said that the Grasshopper Rock Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010 stood out for its great depth of cherry fruit aroma, palate richness and multi-layered complexity.

“Pinot Noir is the most successful varietal class in the competition. The top wines are simply stunning, and a further endorsement of Pinot Noir’s suitability to making outstanding wines from many regions around the country. The wines from the outstanding 2010 vintage are of special note, and are showing even more layers after an extra year of age.”

The Central Otago region received further recognition for its Pinot Noir, picking up the Fairfax Media Champion Open Red Wine with the Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2011.

Looking at the regions, Marlborough received a total of six trophies at Saturday’s dinner, including Reserve Wine of the Show with the Matua Valley Single Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2011. Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay won four trophies apiece, Auckland two, and Canterbury and Gisborne were awarded one trophy each.

Air New Zealand Head of Sponsorship and Community James Gibson said an impressive 92 percent of this year’s entries were sustainably produced, up from 75 percent last year.

“Air New Zealand has an ambition to become the world’s most environmentally sustainable airline so we are thrilled the New Zealand wine industry is taking the same stance – putting our natural assets first,” he said.

Now into its 26th year, the Air New Zealand Wine Awards attracted 1,367 entries in 17 different classes. In addition to the 19 trophies awarded, there were 97 gold medals, 183 silver medals and 364 bronze medals awarded, bringing the total number of medals handed out to 644.

The trophies were presented at a gala awards dinner at the TSB Arena in Wellington. Food and wine enthusiast Jesse Mulligan was the evening’s MC while the guests enjoyed a five course meal created by Peter Gordon.

Owned and organised by New Zealand Winegrowers, the Air New Zealand Wine Awards is the country's most prestigious wine competition and is regarded as the official competition of the New Zealand wine industry.

View the full list of trophy winners (PDF).