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Riesling Challenge is now truly international, Helm says

The Chair of the Hyatt International Riesling Challenge, Ken Helm, says he is thrilled by the incredible growth in the competition, which only started in Australia’s national capital, Canberra, six years ago.

“The Challenge has seen incredible support in such a short time. It really does reflect the growing interest in the Riesling grape, both here and overseas”, Mr Helm said at today’s launch of the competition by the Minister for Tourism in the ACT, Andrew Barr.

“Entries this year have jumped from last year’s record of 328 to a phenomenal 449. We can now proudly boast the biggest international wine competition of this type in the Southern Hemisphere.

“The birthplace of Riesling, Germany, has more than 90 entries alone and there are many more from New Zealand, France, South Africa, Canada, the Czech Republic, Austria and USA."

“It’s pleasing to see so many wineries (more than 100) entering for the first time. The judges will face a big job once the competition begins on 11 October 2006.”

The chair of the judging panel, Louisa Rose, from Yalumba Wines, is excited about what lies ahead.

“There is time to consider and appreciate different styles that the regions and nations have to offer, and to tease out the truly great wines”, Ms Rose said.

“Riesling, particularly from Australia and New Zealand, continues to gain recognition around the world, but in an increasingly crowded wine market, every opportunity to focus and promote it is important.”

In 2004, Stringy Brae of Sevenhill from the Clare, won the Challenge and hasn’t looked back since.

“All of a sudden we were talking with people in export markets as doors opened through winning the Riesling Challenge”, said Stringy Brae winemaker, Hannah Rantanan.

“We had new people looking for our wine and Qantas added us to their international business class service.”

Giving the 2006 judging panel a truly international flavour will be German wine expert, Alexander A. Kohnen, who won the 2006 German Wine Critics Prize.

The 2006 Riesling Challenge will run from 11–14 October 2006 at Canberra’s Hyatt Hotel.

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