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Paddy Preston Wins NZ Winemaker Award

Paddy Preston Wins NZ Winemaker Award

An ‘apprenticeship’ turning kiwi-fruit into wine has proved the perfect grounding for Paddy Preston who was tonight named New Zealand Winemaker of the Year.

Despite no formal training in the art of making wine, the Mills Reef chief winemaker has earned a reputation for producing some of New Zealand’s finest drops.

His wines were consistently rated highly by Winestate judges who have blind tasted more than 10,000 different New Zealand and Australian wines over the past year.

Mr Preston said as a kiwi-fruit winemaker he had to be accurate to every last detail - a practice that proved invaluable when he moved to grapes.

New Zealand wineries performed strongly at the 2004 Winestate Australasian Wine of the Year awards, dominating with their sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs by taking the top five positions.

Saint Clair claimed first and second spot with its 2003 Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and 2004 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, while the 2002 Rockburn Central Otago won the pinot noir category.

Success also went to New Zealand in the merlot category, courtesy of the 2002 Trinity Hill Gimblett Road Hawkes Bay Merlot.

The overall Australian and New Zealand Wine of the Year was awarded to Victoria’s Cathcart Ridge Estate 2000 Grampians Shiraz, while the title of New Zealand Wine Company of the Year went to Villa Maria.

Publisher Peter Simic said the strength of different regions in consistently producing particular varietal wines of extremely high quality was again demonstrated at this year’s awards.

"While South Australia’s mid-north wineries are clear leaders with riesling and the Hunter Valley is a consistent winner with semillon, it’s very difficult to beat New Zealand for top quality sauvignon blanc and pinot noir,” he said.

FULL LIST OF WINNERS:

Australian Winemaker of the Year - Andrew Spinaze, Tyrrell’s, Hunter Valley.

New Zealand Winemaker of the Year - Paddy Preston, Mills Reef.

Australian Wine Company of the Year - Southcorp Wines.

New Zealand Wine Company of the Year - Villa Maria.

Australasian Wine of the Year and Best Shiraz - Cathcart Ridge Estate, The Grampians Shiraz 2000.

Sparkling - Clover Hill Pipers River Tasmania Brut Sparkling 1999.

Sauvignon Blanc - Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2003, NZ.

Riesling - St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling 2004, SA.

Semillon - Pepper Tree Wines Reserve Semillon 1995, Hunter Valley, NSW.

Chardonnay - Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay 2002, Margaret River, WA.

Pinot Noir - Rockburn Central Otago Pinot Noir 2002, NZ.

Merlot - Trinity Hill Gimblett Road Hawkes Bay Merlot 2002, NZ.

Cabernet Sauvignon - Serafino McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, SA.

Sweet whites - Brown Brothers Patricia Victoria Late Harvested Noble Riesling 2000, North East Vic.

Fortifieds - Morris of Rutherglen Old Premium Liqueur Tokay, Vic.

A full list of the top five wines in each category is available.

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