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Air New Zealand Wine Awards judging in the bag


Air New Zealand Wine Awards judging in the bag

The 21 Air New Zealand Wine Awards' judges have swirled, sipped and savoured more than 1200 New Zealand wines over the last three days to find some of the country's finest.

An impressive 1234 wines were submitted for judging this year, slightly up on last year's quotient of 1165 despite a smaller than anticipated vintage.

The number of red wines submitted rose 16 percent to 450 of the total number of entries, with the key growth areas being Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah.

John Belsham of Foxes Island Winery in Marlborough has been the chairperson of the Air New Zealand Wine Awards judging panel for the last five years and while he has decided not to continue his role next year he feels he's leaving in a particularly successful year.

"This is my final year as chairman of judges at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and I am pleased to say that I will be going out on a high note. The standard of entries this year was one of the best I have experienced and the expertise and professionalism of all the judges and organisational staff involved was faultless. There will be plenty of positive, exciting results revealed next week when the medals and trophies are announced," he says.

Judging took place from October 27 to 29 in Auckland. Wines are submitted under 17 main varietal categories with each undergoing rigorous blind tasting. The wines awarded gold medals are again blind tasted to select the trophies. All trophy wines are then blind tasted once more to select the Bell Gully Reserve Wine of the Show and the supreme accolade of the Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show.

The judging panel is split into four teams of five consisting of a chairperson, two senior judges and two associate judges. John Belsham's role is to oversee and manage the entire judging and maintain the integrity and quality of the process.

Two leading international wine experts were included on the judging panel as senior judges - Peter Marks MW, curator of wine at the American Centre for Wine, Food and the Arts in California and Louisa Rose of Yalumba Winery in Barossa, Australia.

The medal winning wines will be announced on Thursday next week with the category and supreme Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show, selected from the gold medal winners, announced at a dinner presentation at the Sheraton Hotel, Auckland on Saturday November 8.

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