Podium finishes

Glance around the shelves of the local wine shop and medal stickers glisten temptingly from all sides. They remind us of the importance of critical acclaim and wine show success, Mark Henderson writes.


Faced with a sea of choice, purchasers can have added confidence if a bottle has an award sticker, particularly if it is gold. Watch out for imitators though; the ''Best Wine with Pizza'' stickers I spotted once did make me chuckle.

New Zealand wines are judged in wine shows both locally and internationally.

The general format sees a panel of judges tasting flights of the same grape variety before conferring on their marks, awarding gold, silver, bronze and commended (or similar) ratings.

Gold medal wines and wines with a marked disparity in scoring will be retasted by senior judges.

Two of the biggest international wine shows involving Kiwi wines are the International Wine Challenge and the Decanter World Wine Awards, both held in London. Results are made public in May and June. Success here comes with kudos.

Locally, the two biggest and most prestigious shows are the Royal Easter Show and the Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

Alongside these two ''heavyweights'' are the New Zealand International Wine Show, the Spieglau International Wine Competition, the Bragato Wine Awards and a number of regional shows.

One other show with a point of difference is the New World Wine Awards, which has entry requirements of a retail price of no more than $25 and the necessity of at least 5000 bottles available for sale in the New World supermarket group.

Those requirements can be difficult for our boutique producers, but do give the show somewhat of a ''people's show'' moniker.

Today, I'm ''test running'' three gold medal winners from the New World Wine Awards and am rather pleased with the results.

2016 Tohu Single Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
Price: Cellar door $17.95
Rating: Excellent to outstanding

Pungent and bright nose with capsicum, guava, sweat and tropical notes. The palate offers a top note of tropical fruit/pineapple and boiled sweets, with an ever-present undercurrent of red capsicum, grassiness and cut herbs, evolving to gooseberry on the finish.

Tingly acidity with, a zingy, lip-smacking citrusy  finish. Vibrant, complex and delicious.





2015 Clearview Beachead Chardonnay
Price: $23.99
Rating: Excellent to outstanding

Lovely nose here with tropical fruit, grilled nuts, ripe peach and stonefruit with oak seasoning. Rich on the palate; classic ‘‘chardy’’ with coconutty oak, spices, nuts and tropical fruit, evolving with matchstick and oatmeal coming up in the glass with time.

Bold and generous, definitely a drink-now prospect, improving noticeably in the glass with a delightfully fresh finish.





2015 Esk Valley Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec
Price:  $19.99
Rating: Excellent

Very youthful on the nose with plum and berryfruit evident; licorice and spices coming with air. Juicy and bright entry; redcurrants, a fragrant leafy top note and some dusty oak on a chewy and grippy frame. Ripe fruit here, yet not overblown and lots more to give here I feel.

For now, still very young and a great dinner table companion.


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