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Red Wine on the Rise at Air NZ Wine Awards

Red Wine on the Rise at Air New Zealand Wine Awards

For immediate release
Thursday 16th October 2003

Red Wine on the Rise at Air New Zealand Wine Awards

Red wine entries are making an impact in the 2003 Air New Zealand Wine Awards reflecting the growing prominence of New Zealand's red wine varieties.

Red wines make up 450 of this year's 1,234 total entries, up 16% from last year, in one of New Zealand's most important national wine events.

The key growth areas for the red wine entries are in Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah classes, with Pinot Noir entries growing 30 percent from 140 to 183, Merlot up 32 percent from 57 to 75 and Syrah surging 71 percent from 21 to 36 entries.

A rise in the number of red wine submissions has meant entry levels at this year's Air New Zealand Wine Awards show an overall marginal increase, up about 3 percent to 1234 despite a smaller than anticipated 2003 vintage (down 35 percent).

White wine entries at 784 show a slight decline of 1% over last year, principally as a result of the reduced number of 2003 vintage entries. The most noticeable decrease is within the new vintage Sauvignon Blanc class, down 10 percent from 161 to 146 and the new vintage Chardonnay class, down 150% percent from 60 to 24.

Marketing Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers Anne-Marie McKenzie, the industry body responsible for organising the awards with Air New Zealand, says the increase in red wine entries is a reflection of the heightened industry focus on plantings of red varieties.

"Five years ago plantings of red varieties in New Zealand were just 25 percent of the total area. They now constitute 33 percent and are continuing to rise at a fast rate. The presence and success of red wines within high profile competitions such as the Air New Zealand Wine Awards will further help build the growing critical acclaim and demand for varieties such as Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah, which the industry is starting to witness both in New Zealand and overseas," she says.

The wines will undergo three days of rigorous judging from October 27 at the North Harbour Stadium, Auckland by a team of 21 expert judges, led by panel chairman John Belsham from Foxes Island Winery. The team also includes prominent international judges, Peter Marks MW, wine curator at the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in California and leading Australian winemaker, Louisa Rose from Yalumba Winery.

Now in their 17th year, the Air New Zealand Wine Awards provide wineries the opportunity to achieve one of 18 prestigious category trophies and ultimately the top accolade of the Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show. All trophy winners will be announced at the awards' dinner on Saturday November 8 at Sheraton Auckland Hotel and Towers and tickets for the dinner can be sourced from New Zealand Winegrowers.

Subsequent announcements by New Zealand Winegrowers on the Air New Zealand Wine Awards will include:

* Thursday November 6 - medal winners

* Saturday November 8 - winners' results

* Week commencing November 10 - display of all medal and trophy winners on www.wineshow.co.nz.

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