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Ben won the opportunity to represent Otago last year, but was unable to compete as he was selected for the Central Otago-Burgundy exchange programme. He’s come back strongly to win the crown this year.
Contestants faced an advance presentation identifying the wine consumer(s) of the future and how New Zealand will maintain its competitive edge, followed by a series of essays, lab work, CAPEX budget proposals, interviews and wine judging before giving a speech at the awards dinner touting their region as the place to visit this summer.
Included in his prize package is a travel grant to visit the Tonnellerie de Mercurey cooperage in Burgundy (in better times), an associate judging spot at the New World Wine Awards and the opportunity to review wines for Drinks Biz magazine.
The eagerly contested Blind Chicken wine options competition recently saw yours truly line up alongside a group of wine lovers ready to sniff, slurp and spit their way through a selection of wines.
Per tradition, last year’s winner, Paul Templar, had the honour of hosting, selecting a range of wines that criss-crossed the world, while remaining identifiably true to their grape variety, style and region.
Things were close at the end of the whites, but past winner David Tasker was on fire in the second half, taking a well-deserved victory with an unassailable 37pts.
Brendon Woodford and Julie Clark shared second spot on 33pts with yours truly, Jules Radich and Ricky Collins on 32pts.
David gets to hold the Blind Chicken Trophy for the year and plan next year’s event.