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NZ Winegrowers proposes more rigorous standards

Media release
December 2, 2006

New Zealand Winegrowers proposes more rigorous standards for wine tastings

New Zealand Winegrowers, the national organisation representing grape growers and wine makers, has confirmed that it received notification from Cuisine magazine that there appeared to be a difference between a wine submitted to the magazine for a tasting and another bottle of the wine purchased by Cuisine for comparison.

The wine was Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and the tasting was for an upcoming feature in Cuisine on 2006 Sauvignon Blanc.

CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers Philip Gregan said: “Essentially, this issue is about wine blending. Good wine making practice requires that wineries blend batches of wine before bottling so they achieve consistency from a vintage.

“Small variations between bottlings are inevitable and accepted by the industry here and overseas. In this case, however, the variation was greater than what would normally be acceptable.”

New Zealand Winegrowers is committed to promoting internationally recognised wine production and judging standards. Having been approached by Cuisine and Wither Hills, New Zealand Winegrowers immediately initiated an independent audit of Wither Hills’ winery records.

An experienced winery auditor was commissioned to verify the explanation provided by Wither Hills to Cuisine regarding the variation in the wine. Wither Hills has accepted there was a variation between the bottles of Wither Hills Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and the auditor was satisfied that their explanation matched the records kept by Wither Hills.

Wither Hills has undertaken to review its processes to ensure that batch variation is minimised in the future and Cuisine magazine has sought advice from New Zealand Winegrowers regarding the judging processes used for other awards.

“As champions of the New Zealand wine industry we know how important it is to maintain the reputation of our wines in both the domestic and international markets,” said Mr Gregan.

New Zealand Winegrowers has taken this situation very seriously and believes it is important that consumers who purchase wine based on recommendations from the media and wine shows can be confident that they are purchasing the same wine that has been tasted.

“We have rigorous judging processes and systems in place to ensure the integrity of samples submitted for New Zealand Winegrowers’ competitions such as the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

“As a consequence of this issue being brought to our attention, we will be actively promoting the adoption of similar standards for all wine tastings so our consumers and trade partners can be sure that what they see is what they get,” Mr Gregan said.

Mr Gregan confirmed that New Zealand Winegrowers would be continuing to investigate this matter.


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