Red is the new White, Pink persists & Sparkling shines – New World Wine Awards reveal trending styles at 20th annual competition
While Sauvignon and Pinot Noir still have our heart, it appears Kiwi wine lovers are starting to explore new styles and become more adventurous in their tastes.
There have been some notable shifts in the entries to this year’s New World Wine Awards, which begin judging today, including a jump in new Red wine varieties and globally-trending styles like Rosé and Prosecco.
More than 150 wineries and wine distributors from around New Zealand and the world have entered the 20th annual competition, which focuses on finding the top drops under $25 dollars. Each is vying for a spot in the Top 50 winning wines, which will then be available to New World shoppers nationwide.
“As the country’s most consumer-focused wine competition, entries to these awards can be a great indicator of what wine-lovers and winemakers are getting excited about,” says Co-Chair of Judges for the New World Wine Awards, Jen Parr.
Red is the new White
This year, for the first time in the Awards’ 20-year history, the Single Variety Red Wine class has eclipsed the iconic Sauvignon Blanc class to become the largest in the competition.
“There are more than 180 Single Variety Red Wines to taste our way through, 30 percent more than usual,” says Co-Chair of Judges Sam Kim, who joins Parr in leading the independent panel of judges.
“This class is home to local favourites like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, two varieties that love to grow in the sunny Hawke’s Bay and surrounds. However, we’ve also seen an increase in ‘New to New Zealand’ varieties like Grenache, Malbec, Petit Syrah and Tempranillo.
“These are what we call ‘emerging wines’ – meaning they are well-established in other parts of the world, like Spain, France or Australia, but still quite new to New Zealand shores and palates.
“We had some stunning wines come through in this class in 2021 and we are really excited to begin tasting this year’s entries to find the stand outs that wine-lovers are waiting for.”
Pink wine trend rosier than ever
The trend-setting tipple Rosé is also seeing a record-breaking year, with more than 170 pink wines entered. “Incredibly, this is a 50 percent increase on last year’s entries – which was a record in itself,” says Parr.
And she says it’s unlikely we’ll hit ‘peak pink’ anytime soon, with the rise in entries a sign of both consumer demand, and the quality of the Rosé being produced in New Zealand and internationally.
“Rosé has really come into its own in the last decade. As it has attracted wine drinkers’ attention, winemakers have responded with top quality wines, that are skilfully made in a wide variety of styles and hues.”
This year’s field includes more than 100 New Zealand made Rosé wines, as well as entries from France, often considered the ‘epicentre’ of Rosé, and Australia.
Sparkling love affair continues with Italian drop
Sparkling wines have also seen a rise in popularity, with another heart-fluttering increase in the number of bubbly entries – up a third to nearly 130 wines.
Prosecco – one of Italy’s premier and proprietary bubblies, is one of the styles behind the leap in entries, a flow on effect of double-digit sales growth for Prosecco in New World stores over recent years.
“Where Champagne and Brut were once our main – if not only – sparkling choices,” says Kim, “We now have access to an amazing range of New Zealand made bubblies to toast with, trending styles from overseas to explore, and a growing number of no and lower alcohol options too.”
Search for Gold gets underway in wine county
The New World Wine Awards judging starts today in Marlborough, with an independent panel of 17 experts spending three full days assessing more than 1,200 wine entries.
After swirling, sniffing, sipping, spitting and scoring, the judges will whittle the field down to the best of the best: the Top 50 wines that will be available for $25 or less in New World supermarkets nationwide.
The independent judging panel is made up of professionals from across the wine industry, including many respected winemakers, who will each taste around 100 wines per day.
For all entries, the panel will evaluate each wine on colour, taste and smell, making collective scoring decisions according to the internationally recognised 100-point system to award Gold (95-100 points), Silver (90-94) and Bronze medals (85-89). Judging is ‘blind’, meaning the judges only assess the wine in the glass on the day, and do not know the brand of any entry.
To earn Gold a wine will have been tasted and graded at least 19 times by 11 different judges, and it will be tasted again to be ranked in, or out, of the ‘New World Wine Awards Top 50’. The best of the Top 50 will then be tasted once again by the entire judging panel to determine the Champions of each main varietal, and an overall Champion Red, Champion White and Champion Sparkling.
The full results will be announced in October.