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Sauvignon Blanc drives gold medal surge


Sauvignon Blanc drives gold medal surge at 2003 Air New Zealand Wine Awards

The high quality of New Zealand’s 2003 Sauvignon Blanc is reflected in this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards with a strong showing of the popular white wine varietal raising the gold medal tally up by nearly a quarter from 2002.

A record 77 wines have received gold medals with 12 going to current vintage Sauvignon Blancs, up from four last year. Cabernet/Merlot blends from 2002, 2001 and 2000 also demonstrated their excellence winning seven gold medals, compared to just three the previous year.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir again reigned supreme, taking top honours in terms of the total number of golds received with 16 and 13 medals respectively, both up two from the previous year. The gold medals for these varieties were predominantly from the 2002 vintage.

Judged last week in Auckland, the medal tally totalled 698, 46 more than 2002, equating to 57 percent of the total 1223 entries (56 percent of total last year).

Silver medals rose 20 percent to 162, up on 135 in 2002, while bronze medals remained fairly static at 459 compared to last year’s 454.

In his final year as chairperson of the 2003 Air New Zealand Wine Awards judging panel, John Belsham comments on the quality of this year’s entries.

“The standard of entries this year was one of the best I have experienced in my five years of chairing the judging process. It is pleasing to see Sauvignon Blanc back on top form and that our other key varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet/Merlot blends continue to go from strength to strength.”

Air New Zealand Vice President Marketing & Alliances Ed Sims commends the many wineries around the country that have taken part in the 2003 Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

“Air New Zealand’s sponsorship of the awards has reached its 17th year, a remarkable partnership which this year has seen a record number of wineries choosing to showcase their wines,” he says.

“Congratulations to the wineries awarded gold, silver and bronze medals this year and the very best of luck to the gold medal winners for this Saturday’s announcement of the trophies and overall Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show.”

White wines led the way in the gold medal stakes with 44 awarded (six percent of total white entries) followed by red wines with 32 (seven percent of total red entries) and sparkling with one (five percent of all sparkling entries).

In addition to the impressive performance by Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, the other white varieties of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer all performed well, reaping eight, three and two gold medals respectively. Sweet wines generated four gold medals.

While the 13 Pinot Noir and seven Cabernet/Merlot blends dominated the red wine gold tally, Merlot also had an excellent year with six gold medals and Syrah continued its very strong performance with two gold medals and 74 percent of all its entries receiving a medal.

Marlborough wines took out the highest number of gold medals, receiving nearly half the quotient with 35, followed by Hawkes Bay with 28, Otago with seven, Gisborne and Wellington (including Martinborough) with three each and Canterbury with one.

The wines were judged over a three day period by 21 experienced judges including two leading international wine experts - Peter Marks MW, curator of wine at the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in California and Louisa Rose of Yalumba Winery in Barossa, Australia.

All trophy winners will be announced at an award’s dinner on Saturday November 8 at The Auckland Sheraton Hotel and Towers. Details of all medal winners will be available on www.wineshow.co.nz. from 12.00pm Wednesday November 5 and trophy winners from 9.00am Monday November 10.

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