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Upper North Island wines shine at competition

16 October 2012

Upper North Island wines shine at competition

Expatrius Blend of 8, 2010, from First Growth Ltd’s Waiheke Island vineyard won both trophies at the 2012 Upper North Island Wine Challenge (UNIWC) awards dinner at Old Government House on Saturday evening.

Winemaker Luc Desbonnets was on hand to receive the trophies for Top Red Table Wine and Kauri NZ & Tonellerie Saury Best Wine Of The Show.

“Expatrius Vineyards are very proud to have received the recognition and awards … especially given that these were our first release of wines having planted our vineyards in 2006 with the clear objective of creating ultra-premium wines from our selected sites,” he said. “The awards we received have given me and my team a great boost.”

“I would encourage this region’s winemakers to support the UNIWC through their participation year to year and look forward to the continued success and growth of this annual show of the very best wines from this exciting and distinctive wine region.”

Wines from Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty are eligible for the challenge, and 93 were entered into competition. Gold medals were awarded to five wines, and silver and bronze medals went to 14 and 38 wines, respectively.

Reds dominated the show, making up two thirds of entries and winning all the gold medals and trophies. “One of the main focus points of the [Upper North Island] regions is the reds,” said Chief Steward and University of Auckland wine science tutor Gerard Logan. “We have our own style and there are some absolutely fantastic wines in the region.”

“It was a pleasure to judge the Upper North Island Wine Challenge this year. It’s a small but an important show,” said Chair of Judges Simon Nunns.

The competition, now in its third year, is organised by Wine Science Programme at The University of Auckland and was sponsored for the first time this year by Kauri NZ. It was established to meet the need for greater recognition of the region and its unique and historical contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

The event is run along similar lines as other wine competitions but a point of difference is the way the University collaborates with winemakers. The wineries “get feedback on every wine they’ve entered, both good and bad, and that’s a great innovation,” said Mr Nunns.

The constructive criticism was very valuable, especially for the many smaller winemakers in the region, he said. The challenge was also an excellent vehicle for the Wine Science Programme, for students to be exposed to judging and stewarding, and for the region as a whole. “It’s hard for smaller regions to have a voice … so [the challenge is] a wonderful pedestal for Upper North Island wineries to stand on and say ‘we’re making great wines’.”

The University collects data on all of the wines entered into competition for detailed analysis. Long term the goal is for its researchers to learn about regional and sub-regional differences between wines and the consequent challenges for winegrowers and winemakers, so that this information can be fed back to the industry. Already feedback from the competition is being used as the basis for University workshops with winemakers.


Kauri NZ & Tonellerie Saury Best Wine Of The Show: First Growth Ltd, Expatrius Blend of 8, 2010

Top Red Table Wine: First Growth Ltd, Expatrius Blend of 8, 2010

Gold medals:
• First Growth Ltd, Expatrius Syrah 2010 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• First Growth Ltd, Expatrius, Blend of 8, 2010. (Auckland-Waiheke)
• KariKari Estate, Syrah 2010 (Northland-Far North)
• Obsidian Vineyard, Obsidian Syrah 2010 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Passage Rock Wines, Passage Rock Syrah, Reserve 2010 (Auckland-Waiheke)

Silver medals:
• First Growth Ltd, Te Rere Syrah 2010 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• KarKari Estate, Pinotage 2010 (Northland-Far North)
• Mahurangi River Winery, Mainly Malbec 2010 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Marsden Estate, Black Rocks Chardonnay 2011 (Northland-Keri Keri)
• Mountain Landing, The Landing, Chardonnay 2010 (Northland)
• Mountain Landing, The Landing, Chardonnay 2011 (Northland)
• Omaha Bay Vineyard, Montepulciano 2010 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Omata Estate Ltd, Syrah 2010 (Northland-Bay of Islands)
• Passage Rock Wines, Viognier 2011 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Soho Wine Co, Revolver 2010 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Ti Point Vineyard, Ti Point One Matriarch Syrah 2010 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Ti Point Vineyard, Ti Pont Two Merlot, Cabernet Franc 2011 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Villa Maria Estate, Single Vineyard Ihumatao Gewurztraminer 2010 (Auckland)
• Waitapu Estate, Reef Point Pinotage 2007(Northland-Far North)

Bronze medals:
• Ake Ake Vineyard, Ake Ake Chambourcin 2011 (Northland)
• First Growth Ltd, Expatrius Sauvignon blanc 2010 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Goldie Wines, Goldie Cabernet Merlot Franc 2010 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Goldie Wines, Goldie Chardonnay 2011 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Goldie Wines, Goldie Esslin 2010 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Goldie Wines, Goldie Syrah 2011 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Goldie Wines, Island Pinot gris 2012 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Hilltop Wines, Cabernet franc 2011 (Waikato-Hamilton)
• Hyperion Wines, Eos Pinot noir 2010 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Hyperion Wines, Helios Chardonnay 2011 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Hyperion Wines, Midas Malbec 2010 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Hyperion Wines, The Titan Cabernet sauvignon 2010 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Iron Hills Vineyards Ltd, Serine Syrah 2011 (Northland)
• KariKari Estate, Toa (Cabernet franc/Malbec) 2007 (Northland-Far North)
• KariKari Estate, Toa Iti 2008 (Northland-Far North)
• KariKari Estate, Toa Iti 2009 (Northland-Far North)
• Mahurangi River Winery, Field of Grace Chardonnay 2011 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Mahurangi River Winery, Syrah 2010 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Marsden Estate, Chambourcin 2011 (Northland-KerKeri)
• Marsden Estate, Syrah 2011 (Northland-KerKeri)
• Obsidian Vineyard, Weeping Sands Montepulciano 2011 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Obsidian Vineyard, Weeping Sands Syrah 2011 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Obsidian Vineyard, Weeping Sands Tempranillo 2011 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Omaha Bay Vineyard, Flora, The Imposter 2009 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Passage Rock Wines, Passage Rock Magnus 2010 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Passage Rock Wines, Passage Rock Reserve Cabernet 2010 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Passage Rock Wines, Passage Rock Waiheke Pinot gris 2012 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Passage Rock Wines, Passage Rock Waiheke Sauvignon blanc 2012 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Ransom Wines, Carmenere 2010 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Ransom Wines, Cosmos Chardonnay 2009 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Ransom Wines, Dark Summit 2004 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Ransom Wines, Dark Summit 2010 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Sailfish Cove Wines, Riesling 2012 (Northland-Whangarei)
• Soho Wine Co, Soho Valentina Syrah 2011 (Auckland-Waiheke)
• Ti Point Vineyard, Ti Point One Merlot Cabernet Franc 2010 (Auckland-Matakana)
• Waitapu Estate, Quail Run, Cabernet franc/Syrah 2010 (Northland-Far North)
• Waitapu Estate, Reef Point Pinotage 2008 (Northland-Far North)
• Waitapu Estate, Reef Point Syrah 2009 (Northland-Far North)

There was no trophy for Top White Table Wine this year, as wines must win a gold medal to be eligible for the trophy. Although many white wines won silver medals and some came very close, none reached the level required for a gold medal.


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