22 Feb 2011
Roaring Meg Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 won a silver medal at the Royal Easter Show wine awards announced this week.
The record 118 gold medals awarded at the 2011 Royal Easter Show Wine Awards is a demonstration of the quality advances made by New Zealand wines in the last two years. In his 19th year as general director the awards, Terry Dunleavy said that from a quality standpoint, New Zealand wines have shown rapid recovery from the difficulties caused by the high-yielding 2008 vintage.
“What’s in the bottle has shown 2010 to be one of the best vintages of the last few years, especially in our No 1 export variety Sauvignon Blanc which won 21 golds, while our stellar red, Pinot Noir, continued its remarkable progress also with 21 golds. Notable among the new varieties was Pinot Gris with 14 golds, while Riesling and Gewurztraminer have also regained momentum.”
Total entries at 1542, were up 1.6% on last year, but the quality lift was exemplified by the 16% increase in gold medals, 18% increase in silvers (262 from 222) although bronze medals fell slightly by2.7% from 551 to 536.
There were two innovations this year. First was the introduction of the Heritage Category, in which sets of three wines of current and old vintages were assessed on ageing ability and consistency in winemaking excellence. “As our Heritage Category covered both whites and reds, ours is a first for Australasia, as the only other show in either country, the Royal Adelaide, covers only reds”, said Mr Dunleavy
The second innovation was the creation of a separate sub-class for sparkling Sauvignon Blanc. “The criteria for judging entries in the traditional sparkling and methode champenoise class specifically exclude varietal character, but concentrate of aspects such as yeast autolysis that distinguish Champagne. By contrast, sparkling Sauvignons rely for their charm and appeal on the distinctive flavours of Sauvignon Blanc, enhanced by the secondary fermentation that introduces the bubbles. One silver medal and six bronzes of a total of 10 entries in this new sub-class this year demonstrate how well our winemakers have pioneered this new style.”
The chairman of judges, Kate Radburnd, who last year became the first woman to chair a national wine competition in either Australia or New Zealand, said that the standard of judging in this year’s Royal Easter was as high as any show in her 20 years of judging experience. “We are fortunate in this country to have a growing band of young professionals working in our wineries who are dedicated not only to making better and better wine, but have become expert in recognising and judging quality. In the Royal Easter we have embarked on a positive programme to train associates, through the on-site mentorship of Raymond Chan, a senior judge of long experience.”
Mike DeGaris, the Australian judge who has become regular deputy chairman of the Royal Easter, said a particular highlight for him was the level of quality being maintained for both domestic and export Sauvignon Blanc. “It is particularly gratifying for me to note the steps being taken as part of the Royal Easter judging to give young judges hands-on practical experience for the future.”
Winners of the trophies will be announced at the Awards Dinner on 19 March.