IN THE year of the Rugby World Cup the timing of New Zealand's latest international win over Australia could not be better - and some may see it as a promising omen.
At the Six Nations Wine Challenge, which was staged in Sydney last week, New Zealand took out the Wine Nation of Show trophy, with Hawke's Bay wineries and vineyards among the trophy and gold medal results.
Australia was runner-up.
New Zealand wine producers went up against Argentina, Australia, Chile, South Africa and the US.
Entry is by invitation and the judge representing each country makes his selections in anticipation of winning the various awards.
It is the only wine show in the world where the participating wines arrive exclusively by invitation from the judges.
Bob Campbell, master of wine, was the New Zealand judge whose selections triumphed.
"It was definitely a night for the Kiwis - we took away the most trophies and points out of an incredible line-up of international wines," Matua Estate chief winemaker Nikolai St George said as he celebrated their individual successes.
Among them, with wine produced from its Hawke's Bay vineyards, the Bordeaux Blend Trophy for its 2013 Merlot/Malbec.
"It's a fantastic result for Matua and our Hawke's Bay wines as we were up against some strong merlot-producing nations," Mr St George said.
They also picked up a double gold and a gold award for their merlot and syrah.
"We source all these wines from our Matheson vineyard in the Bridge Pa sub-region - merlot and malbec are two varietals that are very much at home there."
Like other winemakers, he said 2013 was one of the best vintages he had seen.
There was trophy success also for Sacred Hill in the Other Red Blends class.
Its 2013 Brokenstone, a blend of merlot/malbec/syrah, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc took the top award, with Crossroads Winery taking second place in the class with its 2013 Talisman.
As expected in the Bordeaux Blend category, Hawke's Bay vineyards emerged strongly.
Elephant Hill took a double gold while Craggy Range bagged two golds, with Alpha Domus and Villa Maria also picking up golds.
In the Dessert Wines class, Sileni Estates took a gold.
Across the range, New Zealand won five trophies and won seven of the 17 classes - Bordeaux blends, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, shiraz/syrah, sparkling wines, other red blends and dessert wines.
For Mr St George the Bordeaux Blends Trophy win was especially sweet as the Matua Single Vineyard Matheson Merlot Malbec 2013, sourced from the Bay, was the first merlot/malbec made by the Waimauku-based vineyard.