The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Gold Medals announced for 2014 Air New Zealand Wine Awards

Air NZJudges awarded a record 112 gold medals to wines from around the country at this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards. This is the highest tally of gold medals handed out since the national wine competition began in 1974.

Pinot Noir was the strongest performer in this year’s competition, winning 27 gold medals, followed by Sauvignon Blanc with 19 gold medals, Chardonnay with 17, and Riesling with 10.

Chair of Judges and Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich said the Pinot Noir was “outstanding” with the excellent 2013 vintage contributing to 18 of the 27 medals. “These wines are ripe and concentrated, but with wonderful acid balance and length on the palate,” he said.

New Zealand’s largest wine-producing region, Marlborough, led the way with its wines winning 50 gold medals. Hawke’s Bay also had a solid showing with a total 26 gold medals, followed by Central Otago with 20. Brajkovich said there were exceptional wines across all classes.

“Chardonnay from the 2013 vintage was strongly featured, yielding 13 of the 17 gold medals, with a diversity of styles being rewarded,” he said. “Sauvignon Blanc shone again with golds from both 2013 and 2014. As always, Riesling was impressive, and there has been a big improvement in the performance of Pinot Gris. Gewürztraminer gave up some excellent wines, as did newer varieties such as Arneis, Albariño and Grüner Veltliner.”

Brajkovich also added Syrah continues to show well, along with Cabernet and Merlot-based wines from the warmer regions. “The surge in popularity of Rosé wines is emphasised by a record number of entries and three very attractive gold medal winners,” he said.

This year’s entries were judged by an independent panel of 26 expert wine judges, including two international judges: David Brookes, a freelance wine journalist who contributes to Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE, Wine Companion and Wine & Spirits magazines; and Sebastian Braun, wine buyer for Swedish retail monopoly, Systembolaget.

This year’s competition saw 1,552 wines entered into 16 different classes. In addition to the 112 gold medals, 226 silver medals and 411 bronze medals were also handed out, bringing the total number of medals awarded to 749.

Sustainability is a continuing focus of the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, with nearly all of the wines (98.6 percent) entered into this year’s competition being sustainability accredited.

The Elite Gold Medal and Trophy winners will be announced at a black tie dinner in Hawke’s Bay on 22 November.

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