International judges announced for 2013 Air New Zealand Wine Awards

19 July 2013

The 2013 Air New Zealand Wine Awards is pleased to announce the three international judges for this year’s Awards.

US wine writer Dan Berger, Australian sommelier and consultant Sophie Otton, and Swedish Master of Wine Madeleine Stenwreth will be in New Zealand in early November to judge over 1,300 wines at New Zealand’s premier wine competition, the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

“Having such a high calibre of experienced judges at this year’s Awards is excellent and ensures that the Awards remain of true international standard,” says Air New Zealand Wine Awards Chair of Judges Michael Brajkovich MW. “Furthermore, we have representation from two of our main export markets (Australia and the US) as well as a market where there are real growth opportunities (Mainland Europe).”

Judging for the 2013 Air New Zealand Wine Awards will take place from 4 to 6 November in Auckland. The gold medal winning wines will be announced on 13 November and the trophy winning wines will be unveiled at a gala dinner, attended by New Zealand’s top winemakers and industry figures, on 23 November at the Queenstown Events Centre.

The Air New Zealand Wine Awards has been running for over 30 years, and recognises excellence in winemaking in New Zealand. The competition is owned and organised by New Zealand Winegrowers, the national organisation for the country's 1,700 grape growers and winemakers. Entries for the 2013 competition open to New Zealand wineries on 13 August.

Dan Berger has been writing about wine since 1976, and was a wine columnist and reporter for the Los Angeles Times from 1988 to 1996. In addition to writing about wine, he has judged a number of wine competitions in Australia, Slovenia, Belgium and the United States. He also coordinates two wine competitions in California and is the author of "Beyond the Grapes: An Inside Look at Napa Valley" and "Beyond the Grapes: An Inside Look at Sonoma County."

Sophie Otton was the wine director of Sydney’s Rockpool Bar and Grill until 2013, managing a team of 10 sommeliers and the rarest restaurant cellar in the Southern Hemisphere. She has successfully completed the WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits in London, was a national winner of the Negociants Working with Wine Fellowship, a finalist in the Vin de Champagne Awards and received a scholarship to attend the inaugural Len Evans Tutorial. Sophie is also a wine judge and certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers and was Sommelier of the Year in 2009. Sophie has worked as a feature wine writer for Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine since 2000 and is a long-standing member of its tasting panel.

Raised in a family of restaurateurs, Madeleine Stenwreth MW became one of the first Swedish sommeliers in 1990 and is one of only two Masters of Wine in Sweden. In 2002 she completed the WSET Diploma (with Honours) in London and from 2004 to 2007 she worked as a wine purchaser at Systembolaget in Sweden. Now Madeleine runs her own wine consultancy business in Sweden.