Entries for the 2006 Air New Zealand Wine Awards have hit an all time high with over 1700 New Zealand wines up for judging, an increase of almost 10 per cent on last year. Run by New Zealand Winegrowers, the competition is considered the most prestigious national wine awards in the country, reflected in the growing number of entries.
Wine varietals leading this years wine awards are Chardonnay with 325 entries, Sauvignon Blanc with 318 and Pinot Noir with 236 entries. This year Viognier also gets its own class, with 22 entries received this year. This specialty white wine is growing in production due to consumer demand.
Marlborough wines once again topped entries with 680 wines all up, almost 40 per cent of the total entries, followed by Hawkes Bay with 412, Nelson with 126 entries and Gisborne with 125 entries.
New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive, Philip Gregan, said the increasing level of entries for the Air New Zealand Wine Awards reflect the industrys support of the awards.
Our wine makers strive for excellence year upon year, further helping to grow New Zealands premium wine reputation in international markets.
The awards recognise excellence in wine making and our local and international wine judges have the credentials to give winning wines global kudos.
As we reach 20 years of Air New Zealand sponsorship, the awards are stepping out with a new look logo, medals and for the first time on-bottle recognition for trophy winning wines with a new sticker. The make-over represents a fresh face for the awards, recognising how far we have come and modernising our look and feel for the future.
The Air New Zealand Wine Awards are as eagerly followed by consumers as the industry and this year we are launching a new interactive website ( www.airnzwineawards.co.nz ) and advertising campaign.
The wines will be judged over three days (30 October 1 November) at North Harbour Stadium, North Shore City. All wines are critiqued for either a bronze, silver or gold medal. Gold medal wines are then re-tasted to find the possible 19 Air New Zealand Wine Awards trophy winners.
The trophies will be announced at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards dinner, being held in Hawkes Bay on Saturday 11 November.
The judging team of 21 wine experts is chaired by Brent Marris of Wither Hills, who has chaired the awards since 2004, and will include two international judges, Sam Harrop MW, a New Zealander based in the United Kingdom and Grant Ramage of Australia.
Sam Harrop MW owns a consulting company and advises on how to improve wine quality for product destined for the export market. He currently works with wineries in Portugal, the Loire Valley, Southern France and Brazil. Sam is a New Zealander who has held extensive winemaking positions in New Zealand, Australia, California and Oregon. Prior to his consulting career he also worked for Marks and Spencer in the United Kingdom for seven years as a wine buyer.
Grant Ramage is the National Business Manager of Wine for the Coles Myer Liquor Group in Australia. He is responsible for managing the buying team for stores such as Vintage Cellars, 1st Choice and Liquorland. Grant has 13 years experience in the wine industry, working for 10 years at Oddbins (United Kingdom) as a senior buyer for wine markets in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France and Greece.
The medal results for the Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2006 will be available from 7 November on www.airnzwineawards.co.nz and www.wineshow.co.nz .