Top wine, top food - and for the teams from Esk Valley Estate Winery, Sacred Hill and Ash Ridge Wines it was a case of top awards to celebrate.
The Hawke's Bay A&P Mercedes-Benz Wine Awards staged at the picturesque Waikoko Gardens in Hastings last night was a sparkling and colourful gala affair, and a memorable night for all the winners, but especially those who picked up the top three titles.
However, champion winemaker Gordon Russell will have to wait a while before joining the rest of his team at Esk Valley Winery as he is currently overseas, although a quick phone call appeared to be on the cards to pass on the great news.Esk Valley took out the Champion Wine of the Show Award for its Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2010.
Sacred Hill took the Reserve Champion Wine of Show for its Brokenstone 2010, while there was jubilation for the Ash Ridge Wines team after the announcement they had been declared Winery of the Year.
The judges were as delighted with the class and high standards of all varieties, with chief judge Rod McDonald saying his team had never before seen "the complete expression of the variety combined with all that truly represents Hawke's Bay in a single glass."
Mr McDonald said the region was recognised around the world for producing exceptional Syrah but this year's Champion of Show had raised the glass to a new and exciting level.
"Over the last few years, Syrah has been an evolving class with two definite styles developing - the riper, fuller bodied, darker style and the more floral, feminine combination, medium weight, perfumed and supple,'' he said.
"This wine stood out as a combination of both - reflecting a true and complete expression of the variety. It had a lovely floral lift and perfume along with a dense, yet silky structure that made it the Champion Hawke's Bay Syrah.
He described the line-up of all the Champion trophy winners as outstanding.
``All these Trophy wines would stand out at any international wine show, which is the context in which we are judging,'' he said.
In looking at the classes which did not produce a champion wine this year, Mr McDonald said it was important to recognise that in many cases, those varieties were not as widely planted or produced.
``There are fewer plantings of these varieties in Hawke's Bay, which is reflected in our entries. What we need to ensure is that when awarding gold medals, these wines would be at the top at any international show across the world.''
Another highlight of the Show was the Museum Class with three wines winning gold, which represented a high proportion of older wines coming through, he said.
``This is an exciting category to watch as the number of golds grow each year, and shows the depth, quality and ageability of what Hawke's Bay is able to produce.''
After being welcomed by Master of Ceremonies Carol Hirschfeld and President of the Hawke's Bay A&P Society Rob Pattullo, the 400 guests enjoyed not only fine company but fine wines, and a fine menu created by Francky Godinho of Bay Produce, Leyton Ashley from Terroir at Craggy Range, the EIT Culinary Arts Team and The Tuki Kitchen's Andy Glover.
`"Stunning,'' was the succinct summation of one guest who effectively spoke for all, given the spread of satisfied expressions.
AND THE WINNERS ARE...
Champion Wine of Show
Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2010
Reserve Champion Wine of Show
Sacred Hill Brokenstone 2010
Winery of the Year
Ash Ridge Wines
NZ Frost Fans - Best Export Wine of Show
Te Awa Cabernet Merlot 2009
EIT - Best Student Wine
Andrew Yin Bao - Chardonnay 2011
Hawke's Bay A&P Society Young Vintners Scholarship
Hawke's Bay Cellar Door of the Year
Sileni Estates Winery
Church Road Winery - Church Road McDonald Series Merlot 2010
Champion Red Blends - Cabernet Sauvignon Dominant
Te Awa Winery - Te Awa Cabernet Merlot 2009
Champion Red Blends - Merlot Dominant
Sacred Hill Vineyards Ltd - Sacred Hill Brokenstone 2010
Esk Valley Estate - Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2010
Pinot Noir (Best In Class)
Junction Wines - Junction Body and Soul Pinot Noir 2011
Other Premium Red Varietals and Blends (Best In Class)
Church Road Winery - Church Road McDonald Series Marzemino 2009
Villa Maria Estate - Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2011
Champion Sauvignon Blanc and/or Semillon
Vidal Wines - Vidal Reserve Series Hawkes Bay Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Pinot Gris (Best In Class)
Mills Reef Winery - Mills Reef Pinot Gris 2012
Viognier (Best In Class)
Villa Maria Estate - Villa Maria Single Vineyard Omahu Gravels Viognier 2010
Premium White Varietals (Best In Class)
Church Road Winery - Church Road McDonald Series Sauvignon Gris 2012
Champion Sweet Wines
Osawa Wines - Osawa Wines Noble Gewürztraminer 2011
Rosé (Best In Class)
Black Barn Vineyards - Black Barn Rose 2012
Champion Museum Class
Sacred Hill Vineyards Ltd - Sacred Hill Rifleman's Chardonnay 2007
Sparkling (Best In Class)
Black Barn Vineyards - Black Barn Blanc de Blanc's 2010