Hawke's Bay's Sileni Estates has picked up the top prize for pinot noir at the 34th Sydney International Wine Competition, beating off wines from regions across New Zealand and Australia more well known for the variety.

Sileni's The Plateau pinot noir 2013 was crowned the best of the class in the food-orientated competition which was judged by a panel of 14 international and Australian judges, with the final selection of wines judged alongside appropriate food dishes to ensure that the results reflected the way most consumers drink wine - with food.

"Judging the wines that made it to the final rounds with food made a significant difference to the award-winning wines because they are not just judged for technical correctness, that was done in the first phase, they are judged again for their harmony and balance, key to their ability to complement appropriate food dishes," competition convenor Warren Mason said.

Sileni chief winemaker Grant Edmonds said he was "elated" that a wine from Hawke's Bay, which had never been celebrated for pinot nior, had come out on top.


He said the wine had been made from fruit grown in cooler sub-regions, being a blend of grapes from a "plateau" of river terrace gravels at a higher, cooler altitude, and a coastal vineyard which has clay-based soils and cooled by sea breezes.

Pinot noir had become one of the fastest growing export varieties for Sileni, and winery chief executive officer Graeme Avery said they struggled to keep up with demand.
"This is a great result for showcasing the sub-regional opportunities for non-traditional varieties in Hawke's Bay," he said.

The latest award topped off an impressive run for Sileni's pinot noir.

The same wine received gold at the prestigious 2014 Mundus Vini International Wine Awards in Germany while the 2012 vintage of the The Plateau pinot noir was awarded the "Best New Zealand Wine" at the 2014 China Wine and Spirits Award and "Best New Zealand Red Wine" at the 2014 Korea Wine Challenge.

Bridge Pa winery Alpha Domus also tasted success at the Sydney competition which attracted 2000 entries.

Its Barnstormer Syrah was included in the Top 100 wines list - the second year running it made the list.

Alpha Domus managing director Paul Ham said the Barnstormer's ongoing success in national and international competitions reflected the high quality of red wines being produced from the Bridge Pa Triangle grape-growing region.

He was also pleased with the success as the Sydney competition had a food/wine focus.