After a tasting of 50 New Zealand and Australian red wines for the July 2011 issue of Consumer magazine No. 515, reporter Libby Manley writes of the panel of tasters which “found plenty of top quality wines among Aussie shiraz and Kiwi syrah”. The only 5 star rated wine was an Australian wine, the Jim Barry ‘The Lodge’ Clare Valley Shiraz 2008.
Among the 4 star wines were Taylors Clare Valley Shiraz from Australia and Sacred Hill Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2010 from New Zealand. Among the other places in the 4 star wines were Julicher ’99 Rows’ Martinborough Pinot Noir 2009 and Matua Valley ‘Reserve’ Hawke’s Bay Merlot/Cabernet 2009.
This result is a strong endorsement for the Shiraz and Syrah styles of wines (the variety essentially identical for both), showing that warmer-climate Australian and cooler-climate styles are appreciated for their quality. Interestingly, wines from Pinot Noir, the most widely planted red variety in New Zealand, did not feature as highly in this tasting, as the wines from the Bordeax varieties of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The pricing of the wines selected for the tasting was raised to a maximum of $35.00, rather than $20.00, to allow a range of some of the better quality oriented labels to be assessed. However it could be argued that many of the better widely-available New Zealand Pinot Noirs are priced above that figure.
The tasting panel was led by Larry McKenna, director and winemaker of Escarpment Vineyard, Sue Davies, wine consultant with national judging experience, Diane Langman, hospitality lecturer at Weltec and wine enthusiast Gary Bowering. All of the wines were served blind and in their peer groups, as in the format of all major wine competitions. It is interesting to note that Consumer magazine purchase all of the wines for tasting from bottle stores and supermarkets.
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