Thoughtful winemaking a highlight of the Marlborough wine show

Image courtesy New Zealand Winegrowers Inc, Maude.

Refined and thoughtful winemaking techniques have been celebrated by judges at the 2023 Marlborough Wine Show, with more than 400 medals awarded.

A panel of 17 judges tasted more than 550 entries last week, awarding 46 gold medals to wines of all varieties, from right across Marlborough’s subregions.

Guest judge Emma Jenkins MW was impressed by the ability of winemakers to produce quality wines across the board, particularly following a few tricky vintages from 2021 – 2023.

“What I really liked about some of the wines from those vintages was that winemakers had been really sensitive in the way they handled the fruit,” she said.

“I tasted some stunning aromatic wines … as well as the usual suspects like Pinot, Sauvignon [Blanc] and Chardonnay.”

For fellow guest judge Stephen Wong MW, Chardonnay was a ‘super standout’ of the show, with Pinot Noir entries also piquing his palate.

The quality of Chardonnay he tasted last week was on par with the level serious winemakers are trying to achieve across the world, he said.

“There’s just something about the kind of Chardonnays that Marlborough is making, which is right on point with where the world’s palates are converging. It’s a great opportunity if we can make the most of that,” said Wong.

“There’s that combination of freshness, vibrancy, very, very careful winemaking, everything is very sensitively handled. It feels like the winemakers in Marlborough have their finger on the pulse of what people want to drink with Chardonnay right now.”

The pair thought this year’s entries further confirmed Marlborough’s ability to produce world-class wines of all varieties.

“Marlborough is obviously really known for its Sauvignon [Blanc], and rightly so, but I’m just consistently amazed by the range, and the quality of Marlborough. It’s a special place to grow grapes and make wine,” said Jenkins.

Chief judge Stu Marfell was very pleased with the quality of entries for 2023, and felt it was a true showcase of wine excellence in Marlborough.

“It was a thrilling line up of wines that we tasted. The level of quality and thoughtful winemaking that we have here in Marlborough is impressive. Our wines have a true sense of place, they are uniquely Marlborough but they’re also worthy of international praise.”

“It was wonderful to see the calibre of entries right across the board, showcasing our diversity not only of style and variety, but also the diversity of our soils and sites – their Tūrangawaewae was very evident,” he said.

More than 400 medals were awarded in total, with 37 of the 46 gold medal winning wines also eligible for a subregional trophy.

Eighty-four wines, making up 28 entries in the NZ Wine Centre Legacy Award category of the show, are yet to be tasted.


The Legacy Trophy is designed to celebrate wines with pedigree and is awarded to the wine producer with the highest scores from three vintages within a 10-year period and a minimum gap of two years between each vintage.

Guest judge Oz Clarke will be joining Stu Marfell and Ben Glover to assess the category entries on 6 November.

Trophy winners for all categories will be announced at the Marlborough Wine Show Celebration Evening, which is also a celebration of 50 years of Marlborough wine, taking place on November 17, 2023.


2023 Medals
Gold 46
Silver 142
Bronze 236


2023 Gold Medals by varietal class
Sparkling 2
Sauvignon Blanc – Current Vintage 11
Sauvignon Blanc – 2022 & Older 1
Sauvignon Blanc – Alternative Style 1
Riesling 3
Pinot Gris 3
Gewürztraminer 2
Other White Wines 2
Sweet Wines 2
Chardonnay – Current Vintage 4
Chardonnay – 2020 & Older 3
Rosé 3
Other Red Wine 0
Pinot Noir – Current Vintage 7
Pinot Noir – 2020 & older 2


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