The fruit of Hawke's Bay vines has seen three of the 13 prestigious trophies awarded at the recent 2016 Bragato Wine Awards awarded to the region, with Villa Maria picking up two of them through their Vidal Vineyard-sourced Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2014.
The two Bay-based trophy winners were part of an impressive six-trophy haul for Villa Maria, which also went away with eight gold medals. Its highly rated reserve cabernet 2014 took the Richard Smart Trophy and Champion Domaine Wine award as well as the Tom McDonald Memorial Trophy Winner and Champion Classical Red Wine title.
It was produced from grapes grown on the Vidal vineyard by Phil Holden and drew plenty of praise.
"High-quality, perfectly ripened fruit was allowed to shine through in this expertly crafted wine," chairman of judges Ben Grover said.
"It had superb balance and respect for the fruit, providing seamless delicacy, acidity and palate weight."
The third trophy, for Champion Other Red Wine, went to Coopers Creek SV Hawke's Bay Malbec "Saint John" 2013 - a product of the Saint John Vineyard in Hawke's Bay.
The annual accolades, which were announced at the Bragato Wine Awards dinner in Blenheim, drew 616 wines for the 12-strong team of judges to work through. At the end of the extensive judging 37 had been awarded gold medals, 104 silver and 277 bronze.
Hawke's Bay's well-established reputation for creating fine reds was reflected in the gold medal sections of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah.
The two golds awarded in the Merlot and Merlot Predominant section both went to Hawke's Bay-produced wines - with Villa Maria again to the fore.
Its Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay Organic Merlot 2014 and Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay Merlot 2014 both got the golden nod.
Two of the three golds for the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Sauvignon Predominant class were also from the Bay. The Coopers Creek SV Hawke's Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Gimblett Gravels 2013 and Villa Maria's Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2014 both triumphed.
In the Syrah class Clearview Estate's Cape Kidnappers Syrah 2015 and Coopers Creek Hawke's Bay Syrah 2014 took two of the four golds awarded.
There was also success for Bay varieties in the chardonnay class and the pinot gris. Te Awa Single Estate Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2015 and Villa Maria's Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2015 took golds while Takapau-based Junction Vineyard also had a golden evening with its Junction Pastime Pinot Gris 2015.