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1,100 Entries For Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2000

Judges at this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards will taste over 1100 wines from 180 wineries when judging starts next week at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, making it the second largest Awards ever. Now in their 14th year the Awards are New Zealand’s most prestigious wine competition with 18 wine category trophies and the Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show. All trophy winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner on Saturday 11 November at the Queens Wharf Events Centre, Wellington.

Norm Thompson, Air New Zealand General Manager says that the airline has been a long term supporter of the New Zealand wine industry. “As New Zealand’s national airline we have been able to showcase some of the best in Australasian wines and act as a shop window in the sky for the industry. For many international visitors their first taste of New Zealand is when they step onboard one of our aircraft and so the variety and quality of wine we offer inflight is a great introduction to a big part of our kiwi lifestyle. Our involvement with the Air New Zealand Wine Awards adds to our commitment to the future of New Zealand wines”.

With the wines grouped into 20 separate classes for evaluation by four teams of judges, Anne-Marie McKenzie, Marketing Manager for the Wine Institute, says the largest class to be judged will be Sauvignon Blanc with 204 entries, of which 138 are from vintage 2000.

The most widely entered varieties will once again be Chardonnay. With entries spread over two separate classes, judges will assess 270 chardonnays, with 164 being from the 1999 vintage.

In a change from the last year’s Awards a new class, dedicated solely to Pinot Gris, has been introduced for the 2000 competition, “This new class highlights the rapidly growing interest in this variety. The response from wineries to the class has been very positive, with 38 entries” said Ms McKenzie.

In another change, the class for fortified wines has been removed from the Awards, as recently there have been insufficient entries to warrant inclusion. According to Ms McKenzie this reflects the current industry focus on premium table wine production.

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Judges to Assess 1,100 Wines at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2000 …
In other classes -
- Riesling is the third most widely entered variety with 140 wines to be tasted
- Cabernet Merlot blends is the largest red wine class with 96 entries of which 44 are from the already well-proven 1998 vintage
- Pinot Noir is the 2nd largest red wine class with 82 entries, of which 73 are from vintage 1999.
- Merlot wines are the third most widely entered red wines, with 55 entries
- Sparkling wine entries number 38 this year, as do the Cabernet Sauvignon.

“Overall the class entries very much reflect the focus of the industry on producing high quality wines across a range of classic grape varieties” according to Ms McKenzie.

The judges at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards will be led by experienced Marlborough winemaker and judge, John Belsham. Mr Belsham will lead a team of 21 judges, including 12 senior judges, one reserve judge and eight associates. Air New Zealand Inflight Service Director Jim Harre is also a judge in his own right this year as a well known New Zealand wine expert.

Among the senior judges are two international panellists - Liz Morcom, from the United Kingdom, a Master of Wine and writer with House and Garden Magazine (UK) and Sam Gugino, of the United States, a columnist for the Wine Spectator, and a regular contributor to publications such as the New York Times.

Mr Belsham said the judges were looking forward to the competition. “ Favourable conditions in recent vintages have enabled high quality wine production, which coupled with on-going developments in the vineyard / winery will ensure judges are provided with a diverse range of premium, innovative and internationally competitive wine styles. With so many wines entered from the first vintage of a new century, this is an exciting time to be judging New Zealand wines. Undoubtedly, the stage is set for a very memorable Air New Zealand Wine Awards.” concluded Mr Belsham.

Judging runs from Monday 30 October to 1 November.
En d s

For further information, and to obtain interview opportunities please contact:
Anne-Marie McKenzie, Wine Institute of New Zealand Tel 09 306 5550 mobile 025 290 8222 Email annemarie@winz.org.nz
Sarah Hopkins, PR Manager, NZ Region, Air New Zealand, Tel 09 336 3417 or 025 737 203 Email Sarah.Hopkins@airnz.co.nz

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