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New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive, Philip Gregan, says the Air New Zealand Wine Awards are the New Zealand wine industry’s most celebrated event. “The rigorous judging process and the presence of renowned local and international judges put these awards among the best on the world stage.

“It is fantastic to see more than 220 wineries, accounting for nearly half of the industry, enter the awards this year to showcase New Zealand’s best. These wines reflect the high quality international standard that New Zealand achieves in winemaking excellence,” he says.

Gregan went on to say the industry has had a run of good vintages in recent years. “The wines entered in the competition are predominantly from the 2003, 2004 and 2005 vintages – all of which produced some exceptional wines, so it will be an exciting competition,” he says.

Marlborough accounts for over 40 percent of the entries with 663 wines, and of these there are 200 entries for Sauvignon Blanc. Hawke’s Bay has 340 entries, up 18 percent on last year. Entries from Gisborne were led by Chardonnay and increased overall by 35 percent to 107 entries. The Auckland region showed the biggest increase, up 132 percent on last year.

The varietal make up of the entries is led by Chardonnay, with 330 wines, an increase of 23 percent on the 2004 awards. There are also 270 Sauvignon Blanc entries and 250 Pinot Noir wines entered. Riesling is also well represented with 144 wines entered, as is Pinot Gris with 82 wines entered, up 17 percent on last year.

The wines will undergo three days of judging after which the top wines will receive gold medals. These gold medal award winning wines will then go on to compete for the sought after Air New Zealand Wine Award trophies. The 19 trophies will be presented at a dinner in Wellington on November 12.

The 750 dinner guests will enjoy a generous taste of the trophy wines accompanied by a stunning six course dinner designed by Air New Zealand’s executive chefs – Rex Morgan from Citron in Wellington, Peter Gordon from The Providores in London, Govind Armstrong from Table 8 in Los Angeles and Miami, and Geoff Scott from Vinnies in Auckland.

The judging team of 20 wine experts is chaired by Brent Marris of Wither Hills and will include two international judges. Mr Gregan says it is important to have international judges on the panel as they provide a wider perspective and lend the awards greater credibility internationally. “We are excited to have Philip Rich and Linda Murphy coming to New Zealand to judge the wines this year, they are both experienced wine judges and well respected internationally.”

Philip Rich is renowned in the Australian hospitality industry. He writes a monthly wine column for the Australian Financial Review and is an occasional contributor to Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine. Mr Rich regularly judges wine competitions throughout Australia.

Linda Murphy is an experienced wine writer and the wine editor of The San Francisco Chronicle. She is a knowledgeable wine competition judge and an enthusiast for New Zealand wine.



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