The world’s first Maori-owned wine label, TOHU wines, has taken out honours at two prestigious wine awards. TOHU Rewa Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs was awarded the NZ Wine Centre Legacy Award, sponsored by Marlborough Research Centre, at the Marlborough Wine Show.
Meanwhile TOHU Whenua Awa Riesling 2019 has taken out Trophy honours in Class 2 – Riesling at the 2023 Global Fine Wine Challenge, announced on 4 December.
The significant awards reflected the deeply held values of Kono NZ, the family-owned Maori food and beverage producer that develops Tohu wines, said Chief Executive Officer of Wakat? Incorporation, Kerensa Johnston.
“We are incredibly proud of our products. We strive for them to be a true symbol of Maori excellence, and we care deeply about the lands from which they are sourced.
“The Tohu winemaking philosophy is to create wines that capture the essence of each region’s unique environment, while upholding respect and protection of the land for future generations. These awards are significant in that they demonstrate quality over many years. They reflect our relationships with the whenua and the people behind it, and the values that we place on whanaungatanga (together we are more) and rangatiratanga (excellence in all that we do).”
Legacy award for TOHU Rewa Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs
The Legacy Award honours wines with pedigree and is awarded to the wine producer with the highest scores from three vintages within a ten-year period. This year the Legacy Award was judged by British wine writer Oz Clarke.
TOHU winemaker of 15 years, Bruce Taylor, developed the brand’s first sparkling wine in 2009. He submitted the 2011, 2014 and 2016 vintages to take out the trophy award, and said the process of growing and making the award-winning sparkling wine was a special one, from the moment the grapes were picked at the Rothay vineyard in the Rapaura area of Wairau Valley.
“It’s a very different approach, from picking to ageing and tirage decisions. It’s a challenge every year. The three vintages we selected to enter this Legacy award were picked on their individual characteristics. Ironically, they weren’t the greatest Marlborough still wine vintages, but were good for sparkling, and really let Rewa show. Ultimately this award recognises a long programme of good wine.”
He said the quality of Rewa was down to two factors – the region of Marlborough is favourable for growing sparkling; and the quality of the partnership, over many years, with the team at Rothay vineyard.
“Our grapes have come from a single vineyard since 2009. The vines are nice and old, we work with the same vineyard manager, the growers of the grapes know what they’re doing and we work really closely with them to get the grapes from the vineyard into the bottle.”
Trophy honours for TOHU Whenua Awa Single Vineyard Riesling 2019
The Global Fine Wine Challenge is one of the most exclusive wine shows in the world and is accessible by invitation only, with only the top 120 wines from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA selected to compete.
The TOHU trophy-winning Riesling comes from the Whenua Awa (land by the river) vineyard in the Upper Awatere Valley, Marlborough, planted in 2002. The grapes are grown in the Puketapu block, meaning ‘sacred hill’. The block overlooks the Awatere River, sheltered from the harsh winds while reaping the full benefits of the sunshine hours.
Established in 1998, TOHU is the world’s first Maori-owned wine business.
TOHU Rewa Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs is named for the Rewarewa flower, New Zealand’s native honeysuckle tree. In te reo Maori, Rewa means to float or elevate –like the bubbles in the wine.
TOHU is a member of industry association Methode Marlborough, a grower-led society committed to the production of world-class sparkling wine. https://www.methodemarlborough.org/
TOHU vineyards are certified by Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand.
The parent company of TOHU is Kono, a vertically integrated, family-owned Maori food and beverage producer, and exporter of award-winning wine, craft beer and fruit. Kono aspires to be the best indigenous food and beverage business in the world. https://www.kono.co.nz/
Kono is guided by Te Pae Tawhiti, a 500-year plan and intergenerational vision, and prides itself on instilling practices that our ancestors would recognise and that our children will be proud of.
Previous awards for TOHU Rewa Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blancs
Sam Kim Wine Review 2022 (V2106)- 5 stars / 95 points
Dish Magazine Top 12 Sparkling wines 2022 (V2016) – Gold
James Suckling 2022 (V2016) – 90 points
Marlborough Wine Show 2022 (V2016) – Gold
NZ Wine Rater’s 2021/2022 tasting of Sparkling (V2016) – 93 points
Previous awards for TOHU Whenua Awa Single Vineyard Riesling 2019
Cusine Magazine – Tasting #216 2023 (V2019)
NZ Wine Rater 2022 (V2019) – 90 Points