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Entries for 2007 Air New Zealand Wine Awards reveal a rise in new varietals

Run by New Zealand Winegrowers, the Air New Zealand Wine Awards is the country’s most prestigious wine competition and is open only to New Zealand wines.

A strong number of entries from new varietals such as Pinot Gris, Syrah and Viognier have been received this year. The number of Syrah entries has increased 25 per cent this year, with a record 62 entries received in total. Meanwhile, the Viognier category, added in 2006, continues to grow with 25 entries received. The Pinot Gris category has also increased 11 per cent with 126 entries received.

Pinot Noir is closely chasing the highest number of entries, with 240 entries received, only slightly behind Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc which lead this year’s entries, both with 273 entries received.

Marlborough has once again topped the entries with 579 wines, making up 37 per cent of the total entries, followed by Hawke’s Bay with 385, Gisborne with 118 and Nelson with 111 entries. Entries from Otago have rapidly increased over the past three years with 105 entries received this year, an increase of 20 per cent on last year.

There have been a number of changes to the awards this year including a new Exhibition category, a new Sustainable category and changes to the volume requirements in the Limited and Open categories which include the following results:

The new Exhibition category, which was added this year to encourage smaller producers and small specialist batches, has had 302 entries, making up almost 20 per cent of the total entries

The Limited and Open categories, which this year have higher volume requirements allowing consumers more opportunity to purchase winning wines, received 935 and 321 entries respectively

The new Sustainable category has attracted strong interest in its first year with almost 200 entries. These wines will be eligible to vie for 'Pure Bronze', 'Pure Silver', 'Pure Gold' or 'Pure Elite Gold' medals and will in turn compete for the prestigious and first ever Champion Sustainable Wine Trophy, which replaces the Reserve Wine of the Show. New Zealand Winegrowers global marketing director, Chris Yorke, said the awards are an opportunity for New Zealand winemakers to gain recognition for the high-quality wines they produce. “Consumers rely on the Air New Zealand Wine Awards’ sticker to aid in their decision to buy premium quality wine. “The rise in entries of new varietals, such as Pinot Gris, Viognier and Syrah, confirms New Zealand’s increasing interest in these varietals. Pinot Gris is now vying for fourth highest number of entries, only slightly behind Riesling. It is encouraging to see these new varietals and emerging winegrowing regions continue to grow,” said Mr Yorke. The wines will be judged over three days (5 November – 7 November) at North Harbour Stadium, North Shore City. The trophies, including the overall Champion Wine of the Show, will be announced at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards dinner, being held in Christchurch on Saturday 24 November. The judging team of 16 wine experts is chaired by Steve Smith MW, who was appointed in April, and will include four international judges, two judges from Australia; (Tom Carson and Mike de Garis), Peter McCombie MW, a New Zealander based in the United Kingdom, and Joshua Greene from the United States. All results will be posted on the interactive consumer website www.airnzwineawards.co.nz and www.wineshow.co.nz



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