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International Wine Trophy awarded to Seifried in

Family owned Seifried Estate wines from Nelson were awarded the trophy for ‘International Sweet Over £10’ for its Seifried Sweet Agnes Riesling 2006 at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards Dinner in London last week.

The Decanter Wine Competition is an annual event held by the international magazine/website with the general results being announced in late May, and the trophy results being announced at the September dinner. The 2007 Awards attracted entries from 7,642 wines from around the world, of which just 25 were named International Trophy winners.

For Seifried’s to first be awarded with the ‘Regional Trophy’ for the dessert wine and be short-listed for the ‘International Trophy’ was recognition enough for the family owned winery in Nelson, but to then be awarded the top honour trophy after being tasted alongside some of the worlds great names in dessert wines, was quite a feat.

International Trophies are awarded to the best wine from each category when judged against other category winners from around the world. In the dessert class, this meant Ice Wines from Canada and Europe, as well as Sauternes, which have long been recognised as world class dessert wines became the competition for Seifried.

Sweet Agnes’ is named after Agnes Seifried, who, with husband Hermann, started Seifried Estate in 1973 when they planted their first vines in Upper Moutere. Sweet Agnes is made using hand harvested Riesling grapes from family’s Brightwater Vineyard which are frozen on trays for several days following harvest. The fruit is pressed while still frozen; giving a rich syrup-like juice which is then fermented over a six week period.

The challenge for the winemaker is to ensure a steady ferment which preserves the clean, pure fruit character of Riesling. In New Zealand the wine is called Ice Wine, however this style of wine is more common from areas such are Austria (Hermann’s homeland) and Canada where the fruit is left hanging on the vine until the first snowfalls to get the freezing affect. In Nelson the temperature does not get cold enough to achieve these conditions. Hence, we use a little “Kiwi ingenuity, Austrian style (care of Hermann) by freezing the grapes following harvest. This ‘artificial freezing’ means we are unable to call the wine ‘Ice Wine’ in the Canadian and US markets due to their labelling laws, hence the change in name to Sweet Agnes — a suggestion from the wineries US importer several years ago. While Sweet Agnes is the wines name in North America, it is still known as the Seifried Riesling Ice Wine 2006 in New Zealand and Australia.

“Seifried’s have made dessert wines for many years. Experience shows that careful winter pruning and special selection of the fruit at harvest time, as well as careful yeast management are critical in ensuring a rich, clean, fruit driven style of wine.” winemaker Chris Seifried said.

These latest results ended what was already a historic week for Nelson winemakers, with the results of New Zealand’s own Bragato Wine Awards being released – with four out of the 13 trophies awarded coming to Nelson wineries, including Seifried bringing home the Champion Gewürztraminer Trophy.

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