Easter Show Wine Awards – 2013


The diversification of New Zealand wine into high level world ranking has been highlighted during the 2013 judging at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds of the country’s longest running wine competition, the Easter Show Wine Awards. This is the principal impression taken by Master of Wine Sam Harrop, an expatriate New Zealander who co-chairs one of the world’s largest international wine competitions, the International Wine Challenge judged annually in London.

Mr Harrop has been appointed as the second deputy chair of the Easter Show Wine Awards which is celebrating its 60th diamond jubilee anniversary this year.

“It’s great to see the diversity of wine styles, and to note the chair of judges, Kate Radburnd encouraging the judges to reward unique wine styles with an abundance of personality. While there is a perception that New Zealand is a one trick pony based on its success with Sauvignon Blanc, what is exciting to me are the developments in some of less commercial varieties like Merlot, Gewurztraminer, Viognier and Syrah.

“It has been a sensational show, as professional as I have seen in my 15 years of international judging. The judges have unbelievable skill and confidence that allows them to debate the merits across the full range of wine styles in an informed and collegial manner, and to have arrived at results that would stand up anywhere in the world,” said Mr Harrop.

Chair of judges, Kate Radburnd commented: “We have a diversity of judges, who include winemakers but also people from other walks of life who have developed not only a passion for wine but expertise in its evaluation. The gold medal results reflect the depth and breadth of the industry, pushing the boundaries into ever-widening wine styles that we are delighted to endorse.

“What was particularly noticeable to me was the diversity of styles within the various varietal classes,” said deputy chair Mike DeGaris, of Australia. “For example, the two top Chardonnays were completely different in style. The winner was fruit and oak driven while the runner-up was more Burgundian in style showing more balanced winemaking artefact, but both are perfectly acceptable. Viticulturists and winemakers are obviously treating Chardonnay with more respect than as a workhouse variety.

“With New Zealand’s flagship variety, Sauvignon Blanc, there is a growing tendency to stretch the boundaries to create a wider range of taste experiences. Pinot Gris is obviously benefitting from more vine age and more consistency of winemaking style. The evolution of Riesling continues, and it is unfortunate that it is still under-appreciated and undervalued by New Zealand consumers, especially after a few years of bottle age.

“As for the show itself, it is notable for the willingness of the judges to openly embrace the full spectrum of wine styles and reward them accordingly, “ Mr DeGaris.

Co-directors of the awards, Shona White, and Terry Dunleavy, the latter in his 21st and final year of the show’s direction said that the number of entries in 2013, at 1130, were down from the previous year’s 1261, due mainly to recent turbulence in the wine sector, combined with difficult economic conditions which have seen reduction in entries to recent wine competitions in both Australia and New Zealand. Medal percentages and numbers with 2012 figures in brackets were: Gold medals, 8.4%, 95 (111), silver 16.1%, 182 (198), bronze 41.7%, 471 (497).

Trophy winners will be announced at the Diamond Jubilee Easter Show Wine Awards Dinner to be held in the Logan Campbell Centre, ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane, Auckland on Saturday evening, 16 March.

The dinner is open to members of the public, who are invited to contact Emma Reading at the ASB Showgrounds, telephone 09 638 9969 or email emma@asbshowgrounds.co.nz

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