Wine wins proof of Central's strength

Akarua Winery Winemaker Matt Connell was thrilled with the  three gold medals the winery won in...
Akarua Winery Winemaker Matt Connell was thrilled with the three gold medals the winery won in the Air New Zealand Wine Awards. Photo from Allied Press files

The performance of Central Otago wines at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards has shown the area has matured as a wine growing region.

Central Otago wines won 18 gold medals in the initial judging process and dominated the pinot noir category.

The elite gold medal and trophy winners will be announced at the awards dinner on November 23 in Queenstown.

Akarua Winery won three golds. Winemaker Matt Connell said he was ''thrilled'' with the results.

The winery's 2011 pinot noir was awarded a gold medal and also won the Bragato Trophy earlier this year. The results showed the strength of Central Otago wines.

''It [the performance of Central Otago pinot noir] brings another string to New Zealand's bow in terms of winemaking,'' Mr Connell said.

''That's why not only domestically, but internationally, people are starting to see the correlation between great pinot noir and Central Otago.''

It was ''pleasing'' to see the company awarded two gold medals for sparkling wines as well, he said.

''The sparkling awards show we don't just do pinot.''

Mud House's Central Otago wines also performed well, winning two gold medals in the pinot noir category.

Mud House Central Otago vineyard manager Duncan Cramp said the success showcased the quality of Central Otago pinot noir.

''The whole of Central Otago does pretty well, but the subregion of Bendigo is synonymous [with pinot noir],'' he said.

It is the first time the awards dinner have been held in Queenstown and about 520 people are expected to attend the awards at the Queenstown Events Centre on Saturday.

Air New Zealand Wine Awards judges chairman Michael Brajkovich said New Zealand winemakers were producing world-class wines across an ''exciting and diverse range of varieties''.

In total, 111 gold medals were awarded.

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