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UK wine expert full of praise for New Zealand Pinots

Stars of the international wine and food world will converge on Wellington at the end of the month for four days of tasting, talking and learning about New Zealand Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir 2007 is the biggest event of its kind ever held by the New Zealand wine industry. Featuring wines from more than 100 wineries, it’s attracted nearly 500 delegates – more than a third of them from overseas.

It’s also attracted some big name international speakers and panellists – including wine journalist and author Matthew Jukes from the UK.

Matthew writes a cult online newsletter, is the Daily Mail’s wine writer and the author of the UK wine guide ‘The Wine List’. He was recently named by UK retailers as the wine writer who has most influenced their customers, and is a past winner of the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition’s Trophy for Communicator of the Year.

This will be Matthew’s second visit to New Zealand – he was here in 2004 to judge the Air NZ Wine Awards – and he says he’s looking forward to “tasting as many wines as I can and then telling the world about the best ones.”

He describes New Zealand wines as “very smart” and says in his opinion, New Zealand is definitely one of the world’s best wine-producing countries.

“Your Pinot Noir is up there with the best – in the top four countries in the world for this variety – we’ll no doubt figure out just where in that top four at Pinot Noir 2007.”

Matthew says he’s looking forward to tasting different Pinots and vintages from 100 New Zealand wineries, and refining his views on the regional differences that are becoming evident.

He predicts a bright future for the New Zealand Pinot Noir industry.

“It will only improve in terms of quality and distribution, so long as winemakers try not to rush things and retain their focus on quality.”

That’s good news for grape growers and wineries, with Pinot Noir having overtaken Chardonnay as our second biggest wine export (behind Sauvignon Blanc).

Both production and demand for Pinot have escalated significantly over the past few years, with exports leaping a huge 151% in two years.

New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Philip Gregan says two years ago many wine companies thought they might have enough Pinot Noir planted.

“But they’re now saying actually we haven’t got enough – not because they are producing any less, but because demand has been stronger than they thought.”

Philip Gregan says Pinot Noir 2007 is an opportunity for the wine industry to reflect on the progress made, but also where it’s going in the future – and all the signs show that’s likely to include continued strong growth.

“Pinot Noir has become a core variety for many wineries and I think there’s an ongoing commitment in the industry to invest in Pinot Noir production. Maybe in 10 years time we will have as much of a reputation for Pinot Noir as we do for Sauvignon Blanc.”

There are still full delegate places left to purchase for Pinot Noir 2007, as well as tickets to the Grand Public tasting or the Cuisine magazine Pinot Lover’s Day of Homage. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.pinotnoir2007.co.nz



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