On the evening of October 20 there will be glasses raised to a special wine. It will be the wine adjudged to be the Champion Wine of Show; the best of the Bay; the top drop, as declared by the judges of the 15th Hawke's Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards.

The event is now an established part of the region's world-class wine industry and the nod as the Bay's best wine is eagerly sought after by winemakers, viticulturists, winery management - everyone on deck, so to speak. Leading up to the big night, where wines will be tasted and toasted and awards poured out, Hawke's Bay Today will profile the 14 Champion Wine of Show winners. Today we feature Selaks' winning drop.

Champion Wine of Show for 2003: Selaks Founders Reserve Hawke's Bay Syrah 200


Back at the time Selaks wines were being made in Auckland winemaker Brett Fullerton got a call from the company's chief winemaker Darryl Woolley telling him to get to Hawke's Bay "pronto".

The Syrah 2002 had been shortlisted for high recognition in the third annual regional show - which is now the Hawke's Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards.


He made it along and, as he put it, "I had a great night and was very honoured to receive the award on behalf of Selaks Wines for our first ever syrah".

It was indeed the company's first syrah and came from a quite unique vineyard which was spread across a slice of land up Mohaka way.

"I would think the most northern vineyard in Hawke's Bay."

And what makes that winning wine unique is that the vineyard no longer exists as it was decided not to renew the lease on the land so the vines were taken out.

The planting material had been imported by the Nobilo winery from selected vines in the Rhone, and was planted as a source block for vines.

They had clearly done the job.

Selaks, which now comes under the umbrella of Constellation New Zealand, produced about 300 cases of the unique 2002 syrah and in the wake of the awards they sold out quickly.

"I'm down to three bottles at the winery and can't imagine there would be too much left elsewhere," Mr Fullerton said.

"We opened a bottle at Darryl's retirement dinner a couple of months ago and it was still drinking superbly - extremely satisfying."