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Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2017 – Gold Medal Winners

By November 1, 2017No Comments
The medal results of this country’s premier wine judging competition, the Air New Zealand Wine Awards for 2017 were announced yesterday. There were 80 (6.06%) gold medals, 221 (16.74%) silver and 493 (37.35%) bronzes awarded with a total of 794 (60.15%) medals from 1,320 wines entered for judging. The percentages are a little lower than other shows, and this is possibly a reflection of the more challenging 2017 vintage across the country, and possibly some tighter judging.
This year saw some changes coming into effect with the changing of the guard of the Chairman of Judges position, with the very experienced Warren Gibson taking over from Michael Brajkovich MW. Gone is the ‘Elite Gold’ category of medals, something that was a divisive aspect, as this category tended to negate the quality of gold medals that were not judged to be ‘elite’. Warren has introduced the 100 point scoring scale, which is growing in importance world-wide, making it easier to market our wines overseas.
I still use the 20 point scale that is the formal scale used traditionally and is still popular in the U.K. wine trade. I find that the consumer is not able to distinguish between wines scored one point apart. Most judges and critics find the conversion from the 20 point scale to the 100 point scale relatively easy, however, there are some who do not agree with the one point differential aspect as well. Click here to see my personal conversion table.
The judging was conducted over 16-18 October at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland. As stated above, Warren Gibson was the Chairman of Judges. The guest overseas judges were PJ Charteris from Australia, Elaine Chukan Brown from the U.S.A. and Sarah Knowles MW from the U.K. The senior judges were Phil Brodie, Emma Jenkins MW, Jim Harré, Huw Kinch, Stu Marfell, Olly Masters, Simon Nunns, James Rowan, Nikolai St George, Wendy Stuckey, Kyle Thompson, and Liz Wheadon. The associate judges were Murray Cook, Paul Harré, Matt Kirby, Jannine Rickards, Vanessa Robin, Dave Roper, Monique Simpson, Sam Smail, Lauren Swift and Richard Tollenaar. The competition co-ordinator was Shona White (aka ‘The Wine Show Queen’), and the chief steward was Mark Compton.  The latter two people are true stalwarts behind the scenes for wine judging competitions in New Zealand.
An Analysis
Of the 80 golds, the most successful category was Pinot Noir with 20 gold medals awarded. Of these 12 were from Central Otago and 7 from Marlborough, with one from the Wairarapa, 13 of the Pinot Noir golds were from the 2016 vintage with 5 from 2015 and 2 from 2014. Clearly Central Otago Pinot Noir was successful in 2016, a warmer vintage.
Chardonnay was the second most successful class with 13 golds, of which 7 were from Marlborough and 5 from Hawke’s Bay. 2016 was the best performing vintage with 10 of the golds, 2 going to 2014 wines and one to 2015.
Sauvignon Blanc only took 9 golds, with all coming from Marlborough and 7 of the golds from the 2017 vintage. This class is normally more prolific, and the result reflects the challenging 2017 vintage where impending rains forced earlier picking, and thus wines less ripe than usual.
The 2017 vintage scenario could apply to Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer with only 5 and 3 golds respectively. There were 6 Rieslings awarded gold, and these wines would generally be picked after the rains, and with careful selection.
Interestingly, there were only 2 golds awarded to Rosé wines, both being in the Exhibition class, thus not eligible for a trophy. The other wine shows have generally awarded more golds, and my findings are that 2017 was a more successful vintage than usual, with many rosé wines made from high quality fruit, picked earlier to avoid the forecasted rains. This could be a case of more strict judging standards.
The Bordeaux-variety wines (Merlot, Cabernet and Blends) took 7 golds with 6 from Hawke’s Bay and one from Waiheke Island. The golds were spread across 2016, 2015 and 2013.
With Syrah, there were only 5 golds, with 4 of the wines coming from Hawke’s Bay, with a spread across the 2016 to 2013 vintages. The relatively low number of golds here could be attributed to harder judging, as these vintages are generally regarded as good ones.
As usual, the Marlborough region was the most successful, capturing 41 or over half of the gold medals. This is due the sheer number of wines entered from our largest wine growing region. This was followed by Central Otago with 19 golds, the region less affected by the 2017 vintage conditions, and then Hawke’s Bay with 14 golds.
The Villa Maria group was again the most successful exhibitor with 10 gold medals, 7 for Villa Maria itself and one gold each for Vidal, Esk Valley and Te Awa (under the Kidnapper Cliffs label). he Foley Family Wines group took 6 golds across the Dashwood, Vavasour, Goldwater and Martinborough Vineyard brands. Wairau River had a very rewarding show with 4 golds and Nautilus/Opawa winning 3 golds. This year, it appears the golds are spread evenly across many producers.
The Gold Medal Winners
I list the 80 gold medal winners by variety. The list includes the Exhibition Wines which were awarded gold but not eligible for trophies due to not meeting the stipulated stock levels. Go to the Air New Zealand Wine Awards website for all the medal results including the silvers and bronzes by clicking here. The trophy winning wines will be announced at the awards dinner held in Hawke’s Bay on 25 November. I will post them on this website after they are announced.
Sauvignon Blanc
Giesen The Fuder Matthews Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Goldwater Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Valley Marlborough 2017
Hawkesbridge Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2017
Jules Taylor Wines Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2017
Matua Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2016
Mount Vernon Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2017
Opawa Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2017
Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2017
Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2017
Ceres Bannockburn Black Rabbit Riesling Central Otago 2017
Growers Mark Bone Dry Riesling Marlborough 2016
Maude Mt Maude Vineyard East Block Riesling Central Otago 2017
Mount Riley Riesling Marlborough 2017
The Sounds Riesling Marlborough 2016
Whitehaven Riesling Marlborough 2017
Pinot Gris
Mount Riley Pinot Gris Marlborough 2017
Rapaura Springs Reserve Pinot Gris Marlborough 2016
Ruru Pinot Gris Central Otago 2017
Saddleback Pinot Gris Central Otago 2017
Vavasour Pinot Gris Marlborough 2017
Bladen Gewürztraminer ‘Tilly Vineyard’ Marlborough 2017
Hunter’s Gewürztraminer Marlborough 2017
Lawson’s Dry Hills Gewürztraminer Marlborough 2016
Brancott Estate Letter Series “O” Chardonnay Marlborough 2016
Clearview Beachhead Chardonnay Hawke’s Bay 2016
Giesen The Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay Marlborough 2014
Isabel Chardonnay Marlborough 2016
Isabel Wild Barrique Chardonnay Marlborough 2016
Jules Taylor OTQ Single Vineyard Chardonnay Marlborough 2016
Ka Tahi ‘Rangatira’ Reserve Te Awanga Chardonnay Hawke’s Bay 2016
Martinborough Vineyard Home Block Chardonnay Martinborough 2015
Saint Clair Pioneer Block 4 Sawcut Chardonnay Marlborough 2016
te Pa Chardonnay Marlborough 2016
Vidal Legacy Chardonnay Hawke’s Bay 2016
Villa Maria Reserve Chardonnay Hawke’s Bay 2014
Whitehaven Chardonnay Marlborough 2016
Other White Styles
Nautilus Albariño Marlborough 2017
Wairau River Albariño Marlborough 2017
Sparkling Wine
Aotea by the Seifried Family Méthode Traditionnelle Nelson NV
Nautilus Vintage Rosé Marlborough 2014
No1 Reserve Marlborough NV
Tohu Rewa Méthode Traditionnelle Blanc de Blanc Marlborough 2014

Sweet Wine
Forrest Botrytised Riesling Marlborough 2016
Loop Rd. Noble Riesling Central Otago 2016
One Off ‘Sticky One Oh One’ Gewürztraminer Hawke’s Bay 2016
Wairau River Reserve Botrytised Riesling Marlborough 2016
Three Miners Rosé Central Otago 2017
Wet Jacket Rosé Central Otago 2017
Pinot Noir
Akarua Pinot Noir Central Otago 2016
Akitu A2 Pinot Noir Central Otago 2016
Bald Hills Bannockburn Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Central Otago 2015
Craggy Range Pinot Noir Martinborough 2016
Dashwood Pinot Noir Marlborough 2016
Domain Road Vineyard Pinot Noir Central Otago 2014
Esk Valley Pinot Noir Marlborough 2016
Freeland Pinot Noir Central Otago 2016
Goldwater Pinot Noir Marlborough 2016
Grove Mill Pinot Noir Marlborough 2016
Lowburn Ferry Home Block Pinot Noir Central Otago 2015
Maude Pinot Noir Central Otago 2016
Mount Michael Isla Reserve Pinot Noir Central Otago 2016
Peregrine Pinot Noir Central Otago 2015
Rockburn Seven Barrels Pinot Noir Central Otago 2016
Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir Marlborough 2016
Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir Marlborough 2015
Wairau River Pinot Noir Marlborough 2016
Wet Jacket Pinot Noir Central Otago 2015
Wooing Tree Pinot Noir Central Otago 2014
Merlot, Cabernet and Blends
Coopers Creek ‘Gimblett Gravels’ Merlot Hawke’s Bay 2016
Poderi Crisci Viburno Waiheke Island 2013
Squawking Magpie Gimblett Gravels SQM Cabernets Merlot Hawke’s Bay 2013
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Hawke’s Bay 2015
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Organic Merlot Hawke’s Bay 2016
Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Hawke’s Bay 2015
Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Merlot Hawke’s Bay 2015
Coopers Creek Reserve Syrah Hawke’s Bay 2016
Elephant Hill Syrah Hawke’s Bay 2015
Falcon Ridge Estate Syrah Nelson 2016
Goldie Estate Reserve Syrah Waiheke Island 2014
Kidnapper Cliffs Gimblett Gravels Syrah Hawke’s Bay 2013

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