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21/10/2008

New Zealand Cabernet Merlot blends to take on the world

World interest in Cabernet and Merlot wine varieties is such that New Zealand grapegrowers and winemakers who produce those wines have huge opportunities to make a big impression internationally.

So says Peter Cowley, chief winemaker at Te Mata Estate and one of the organisers of the upcoming inaugural New Zealand Cabernet Merlot Forum being held in Hastings over November 6 and 7.

Billed as a celebration of New Zealand Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and their blends, the line up of speakers includes some of the world’s leading authorities on the varietals.

“The annual French Bordeaux en Primeur release is the most publicised, influential and money-earning wine event in the world.

“Cabernet, Merlot and blends of these varieties play leading roles in the wine industries of France, Chile,the USA and Australia, and the fact that our quality is so high and our conditions are so well suited to creating great reds means New Zealand could easily be up there with the world leaders,” says Mr Cowley.

He is urging growers and producers to attend the limited-place Cabernet Merlot Forum to hear from local and international presenters how to take full advantage of the demand for quality Cabernet Merlot wines locally and in export markets.

Topics including vineyard soils, new clones, and new and traditional growing and making techniques will be covered by acknowledged experts and leading makers of Cabernet Merlot including James Lawther MW, Nick Stock and Pete Bissell.

James Lawther, a celebrated wine writer with a coveted Master of Wine based in France, will present an address on Bordeaux and what changes are taking place in the ‘Old World’ today. Nick Stock is one of Australia’s respected wine critics and prolific wine writers and will be addressing new directions for New Zealand and international wines while Pete Bissell, noted Australian winemaker from Balnaves Winery, Coonawarra, will address the Australian experience of Cabernet Merlot.

Delegates will also get the opportunity to sample local and imported wines selected by the guest speakers to demonstrate the impressive level achieved over a range of styles.

Registrations for the Forum are open and organisers, Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Inc. report a steady stream of interest from around New Zealand. A full programme is available on the website www.cabernetmerlotforum.co.nz

“It’s an amazing opportunity for delegates to have so much information and expert wine knowledge in one place and all focused on Cabernet Merlot. It’s wonderful to be able to host the event in Hawke’s Bay as it’s especially relevant to our wine producers and growers with 85% of the total New Zealand of Cabernet Merlot wines coming from Hawke’s Bay,” says Lyn Bevin, Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Inc. executive officer.

“New Zealand Winegrowers is fully supportive of the event and it will be a fixture on the wine industry’s calendar for years to come.”

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