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Reds Score First at Wine Awards

Reds score historic first at 2003 Air New Zealand Wine Awards

Red wines have secured the top two trophies for the first time in Air New Zealand Wine Award history – championing the country’s growing prowess in red wine production.

Akarua Pinot Noir 2002 has been named the Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show 2003 and Vidal Estate Soler Syrah 2002 scored the Bell Gully Reserve Wine of the Show Trophy, announced at a presentation dinner in Auckland last night.

The Pinot Noir win marks the third time in five years this red variety has been honoured with the supreme award. Last year Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir 2001 took the top accolade.

In the esteemed runner up position of Reserve Wine of the Show, it is the first time a Syrah has scooped this trophy.

In addition to the top awards, the Akarua Pinot Noir 2002 secured the Cospak New Zealand Champion Pinot Noir Trophy and the Vidal Estate Soler Syrah 2002 received the Business World Travel Champion Syrah Trophy.

Both wines are sealed with screw caps. The Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir 2001 was the first supreme award-winning wine to be sealed with a screw cap.

Akarua’s two trophy wins are a first for an Otago winery. No other Otago producer has previously received the Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show accolade and it is only the second time a winery from New Zealand’s southernmost wine region has won any trophy at the awards.

Representing another first for Pinot Noir, Spy Valley Pinot Noir 2002 from Marlborough won the Carter Holt Harvey Packaging Champion Commercial Red Wine Trophy, for wines with 1000 case availability.

Vidal Estate’s parent company Villa Maria Estate was again the most awarded company in this year’s awards, taking home a further two trophies with Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2002, named the ACI Glass Packaging New Zealand Champion Chardonnay Trophy, and Villa Maria Reserve Merlot 2001, securing the Huka Lodge Champion Merlot Trophy.

“This is a fantastic result for the New Zealand red wine industry and for Otago, putting this burgeoning wine region well and truly on the map,” said Air New Zealand Managing Director and CEO Ralph Norris.

Air New Zealand Wine Awards Trophy Winners

“Pinot Noir’s win of the Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show trophy again this year is a great foretaste for the next international Pinot Noir conference in January, which Air New Zealand also proudly supports. Congratulations to Akarua winery and the other trophy winners in this, the 17th Air New Zealand Wine Awards.”

Chairperson of the Air New Zealand Wine Awards judging panel, John Belsham, is excited to see red wines in the limelight.

“New Zealand has been historically known as a white wine producer and the international markets are only just realising our abilities with red wine. The selection of Pinot Noir and Syrah as the competition’s leading wines will certainly help drive further awareness of our red wine capabilities,” he said.

“The achievement of Pinot Noir to secure the top accolade for two consecutive years, plus this year winning the trophy for the best Commercial Red Wine, is testament to the skill and experience the New Zealand industry has now built up with this variety. The success of the relatively new variety, Syrah further highlights the exciting developments the industry is undergoing with a range of different varieties.”

In terms of regional performance, wines from Hawkes Bay dominated the trophy haul taking eight of the 17 trophies awarded. In addition to the four trophies secured by Vidal Estate and Villa Maria mentioned previously, the following trophies were awarded to Hawkes Bay wines:

NZ House & Garden Champion Sparkling Wine Trophy for the Morton Estate Premium Brut

Carter & Associates Champion Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot Predominant Blend Trophy for the Trinity Hill Gimblett Road Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2001

BDO Spicers Champion Other Red Varieties Trophy for the Mills Reef Elspeth Malbec 2002

Williams & Kettle/Fruitfed Supplies Champion Cabernet Sauvignon Trophy for the Schubert Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

Marlborough also performed strongly winning seven trophies. Further to the Spy Valley Pinot Noir the following trophies were awarded to Marlborough wines:

P&O Nedlloyd Champion Gewurztraminer Trophy for the Spy Valley Gewurztraminer 2003

Esvin Wine Resources Champion Sauvignon Blanc Trophy for the Sacred Hill Cairnbrae the Stones Sauvignon Blanc 2003

Sunday Star Times Champion Riesling Trophy for the Saint Clair Marlborough Riesling 2002

Air Sea Global Champion Pinot Gris Trophy for the Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Gris 2003

ACI Glass Packaging New Zealand Champion Commercial White Wine Trophy (1000 plus case availability) for the Highfield Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003

Marlborough Bottling Company Champion Medium Sweet or Sweet Wine Trophy for the Kim Crawford Reka Riesling 2002.

Otago secured the remaining two trophies with the previously mentioned wins by Akarua Pinot Noir.

All trophies were selected from gold medal winning wines. This year saw a record number of golds awarded at 77, up nearly 25 percent from the previous year.

The 1223 wines entered in the 2003 Air New Zealand Wine Awards were judged over a three day period from October 27 to 29 by 21 experienced judges. Two leading international wine experts were included in the judging - 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.

The Air New Zealand Wine Awards are organised by New Zealand Winegrowers in conjunction with Air New Zealand.

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