Sileni Estates 2021 Sileni Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc has been judged New Zealand's best wine of the year by the jury of wine experts at the prestigious Mundus Vini summer wine competition in Germany. It has also been awarded the highest scoring accolade, double gold, at the China Wine and Spirits Awards, chosen from a selection of wines entered from 55 countries.
But that's not all — the 2020 Sileni Cellar Selection Syrah also won Best of Show for Hawke's Bay entries at the same awards in China.
Linda Hall asked owner of Sileni Estates, Booster Wine Group chief executive Louis Vavasour some questions following the awards.
What does it mean to you and the Sileni Estates team to win these amazing awards?
It is not only great for our customers for us to be delivering world-class wine but to have the winemaking team recognised by way of global accolades is fantastic, they deserve it!
What do you think it was that made the Sileni Estates 2021 Sileni Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc and The 2020 Sileni Cellar Selection Syrah stand out for the judges at each competition?
The 2020 Sileni Syrah is grown from fruit mainly sourced from the designated and internationally recognised Bridge Pa Triangle sub-region in Hawke's Bay where Sileni Estates is based, with low yields and a dry growing season. The conditions enhanced this wine with dominant fruit flavours, which has been crafted with minimal intervention to reflect a sense of place.
The 2021 Sauvignon Blanc is a true reflection of what Marlborough can produce. Since merging four wine companies into Booster Wine Group, we have inherited and developed some special vineyard sites around Marlborough that offer unique flavour profiles. I believe it's a combination of grapes from vines in key designated sub-regions in the upper south side of the Awatere valley: Barewood and Upton Downs. A small parcel of Semillon from Hawke's Bay also adds X-factor to this wine.
How do you decide which wines are good enough to enter into competitions such as these?
We have some guidelines the wines need to meet to be selected, which includes local market availability in relation to the show location. But more importantly, our own winemaking panel tastes and elevates specific wines that show distinct characteristics we feel are unique, can add a point of difference and reflect the key environmental factors such as the soil and climate from which they are grown.
What would be your recommended food matches for each of the winning wines?
Syrah – Slow cooked lamb or pork. Both work well.
Sauvignon Blanc – fresh New Zealand brown trout cooked lake/riverside with fresh herbs.
What is the most challenging part of winemaking?
It's always a challenge to make the call on when to pick. It takes a genuine calmness and big picture mentality and it's a challenge. Many fall, some survive and a very few thrive.
And the most rewarding?
Seeing the vision of many years of work. By developing vineyards, backing your judgment on site locations around New Zealand, piecing all the variables together from operations to the people involved and getting everything in harmony to create a world-class New Zealand wine that we can all be proud of. It's very rewarding and humbling at the same time.
How did you become involved in the wine industry?
I was fortunate enough to have a very creative mother and a father with exceptional drive who found wine and planted the first grapes in the Awatere Valley circa 1984. The rest is history.
What wine do you drink both from within Hawke's Bay and worldwide?
Cabernet Franc and chardonnay.
What would be your top three tips be to someone planning on making a career in the wine industry?
You need to be passionate about wine. Without it, life will be less than what it could be until you find it.
Never give up and never let anyone tell you differently. Also - have fun, work hard and enjoy the wide world wine has to offer.