A Hawkes Bay syrah from Rod McDonald Wines has won the Champion Red Trophy for its Quarter Acre Syrah 2015 at the International Wine Challenge (IWC).

The winery was already noted for scooping four trophies for its Quarter Acre Syrah 2015, including Best International Syrah, Best New Zealand Syrah, Best New Zealand Red and Best Hawke's Bay Syrah. The Champion Trophy was selected by the IWC chairmen after retasting all the trophy-winning wines. The last time a New Zealand winery won a Champion Red Trophy was in 2013.

The competition is well known for its rigorous judging process, which has led to the International Wine Challenge being considered the world's finest and most meticulously judged wine competition. This year, the 450 judges blind tasted and assessed 150,000 wines from 68 countries.

Winemaker Rod McDonald picked up the award at a black tie gala dinner, attended by top international winemakers and industry figures in London last night.

Reflecting on the win, he says, "I'm not sure that anyone ever 'expects' to win a trophy like this. It's a bit like the Olympics.

"There are those that enter and those that don't, the teams with the big money and size can typically expect to dominate the medal table. So for us to win, it's unexpected but very cool coming from a small wine region at the bottom of the world.

"We don't make these wines to win in competitions. It doesn't enter our mind when we're blending.

"What we do is figure out what's giving the wine uniqueness and character and do more of that. We make wines that we think are great and that we think people are going to want to drink. Wines that we want to share and drink ourselves," says McDonald.

The former New Zealand Winemaker of the Year says the result is a testament to 10 years of hard graft - growing the grapes, building the relationships, finding the right people, fine-tuning and ultimately being brave with their winemaking.

"I'm ridiculously proud of what we've achieved and extremely grateful to everyone who helped us along the way. I absolutely believe you ain't seen nothin yet.

"In the last few years, we've planted a couple of small syrah vineyards and early signs are they're going to produce grapes that will tell an even more compelling story of Hawke's Bay. We can't wait."

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