Marlborough wine makers have reaffirmed their status as industry heavyweights - scooping a heap of top prizes at this year's Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
Nautilus Cuve Brut NV - a sparkling wine from the region - won top honours at the annual award's last night, receiving the prestigious Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show prize.
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The wine, described by the judges as having "a richness, length and complexity on the palate that finishes with a fine, persistent acidity'' is the third sparkling wine in the 27-year history of the awards to take out the coveted prize.
"This is a classic expression of this exciting wine style and a clear pointer as to how good New Zealand Sparkling wine already is, and can be in the future,'' head of the judging panel and Master of Wine Michael Brajkovich said at the Queenstown award's dinner last night.
The wine, produced by Nautilus Estate - a small, family-owned Marlborough winery started in 1985 - has won several awards in the past, including trophies at the Sydney International Wine Competition and the Royal Easter Wine Show. It was launched in 1989.
The Marlborough region also won five other trophies, including the Lake Chalice Marlborough Pinot Gris 2013, which won both the Guala Closures NZ Champion Pinot Gris Trophy and the New World Champion Open White Wine Trophy.
The second highest accolade of the evening, the O-I New Zealand Reserve Wine of the Show, was awarded to the Villa Maria Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2012. This wine also took away the Rabobank New Zealand Limited Champion Chardonnay Trophy.
In addition to the 16 trophies, there were 50 Pure Elite Gold Medals and one Elite Gold Medal awarded. Pinot Noir won the highest number of Pure Elite Gold Medals with 11, followed by Chardonnay with eight and Sauvignon Blanc winning seven.
Marlborough wines scooped the highest number of Pure Elite Gold Medals with 22, followed by Hawke's Bay with 14, and Otago with seven.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said sustainability continued to be "an increasingly important factor within our industry and it's superb that the country's winemakers are also taking a leadership role within the environmental space''.