As much as I love wine and am fascinated by all aspects of it, from growing the grapes, to the process of fermenting it, to the art of tasting it, I have never cared that much about awards. Sure those shiny stickers are captivating, but the result is often a letdown and when you look closer the sticker says something vague like "enjoyed by French men named Simon". Once a year, however, I pay attention.
The New World wine awards invite entries of wines prices at or below $25 that are available in enough quantities to stock supermarkets across the country. Having seen the stringent judging process for the Awards first hand I can tell you that to get a gold sticker these wines are tasted, tested and tasted again.
The New World Wine Awards selects the top 50 wines from those submitted for entry. That is a lot of wine to wade through though, even for me, so I will narrow it down. In each category (chardonnay, sparkling, rose, etc) the judges select a supreme champion, a best of the best. Here are the NZ wines that nabbed the coveted top spot:
Champion Sauvignon Blanc
Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2021
Yealands Wine's Seaview Vineyard, hugging the rugged coastline of the Awatere Valley looking out over the Cook Strait, produces some of the most intensely expressed Sauvignon Blancs in the region. This Champion winner is stacked with passionfruit, feijoa, kaffir lime and sweet basil notes. Lovely paired with pan-fried fish and fresh asparagus.
Lindauer Special Reserve Rosé
This crowd-pleasing sparkling wine has been around for decades, a go-to bubbly for so many of us, making it a great party addition, perfect for birthday cheers and other festivities and celebrations. Reminiscent of strawberries and cream, it's sweetly ripe yet crisp-dry with a smooth rounded mouthfeel and a deliciously refreshing finish.
Champion Pinot Gris
Rapaura Springs Reserve Pinot Gris 2021
Isn't Pinot Gris such a charming and easy-going wine? Splendidly styled by the top-notch winemaker, Michael Bann, who seems to have a magic touch with aromatic grapes,
this is fragrant with Nashi pear, mango, rich floral with a light touch of spice, followed by a beautifully layered palate that's flowing and lingering.
Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Albariño 2021
Originating from the Galicia province in the northeast of Spain, the Albariño grape has a fun attitude about it. It's crisp and lively with a nicely weighted body. This impressive rendition shows white flesh peach, jasmine and citrus peel notes with a brisk, crisp mouthfeel, making it ideal with grilled fish and salt & pepper squid.
te Pā Chardonnay 2020
Head Winemaker, Sam Bennett uses his extensive overseas winemaking experience, including in Burgundy, the spiritual home of Chardonnay, to craft a stylish yet rich and flavoursome offering in this magnificent 2020 rendition. Beautifully layered with refined texture, the wine displays ripe stonefruit, lemon pith, nougat and roasted hazelnut characters with a whiff of flinty complexity. Voted Champion White Wine of the Show – it's supremely classy, yet affordable.
Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Rosé 2021
This wine scores high on the yummy scale. It's beautifully scented showing ripe cherry, rock melon and tropical fruit aromas, together with a finely layered palate offering youthful fruit intensity as well as creamy texture and refreshing acidity. Totally delicious. This will be brilliant with most seafood dishes such as grilled prawns, smoked salmon and Thai fish cakes.
Champion Pinot Noir
McArthur Ridge Brassknocker Pinot Noir 2020
It's remarkable that Central Otago's dramatic landscapes and the extreme climate can produce Pinot with grace and fineness. From their vineyard on an elevated plateau on the outskirts of Alexandra, this seductively tasty wine shows dark plums and raspberries with nuances of baking spice and subtle oak, well supported by smooth rounded mouthfeel.
Champion Red Blend
Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay "The Trinity" 2020
Trinity Hill is a favourite Hawke's Bay winery for many wine lovers for their consistently excellent, great value wines. This Merlot-dominant red delivers blackcurrant, cake spice, toasted almond and just the right amount of dried herb notes, with a prolonged cocoa powdery finish. Adaptable in food pairing, this will complement anything from roast chicken to spicy tacos, through to grilled meats.
Champion Shiraz and Syrah
Trinity Hill Hawkes Bay Syrah 2020
What a beautiful example of Syrah in its purest form. It has complexity too but this Champion Syrah is a textbook offering with perfumed aromas of dark plum, floral, pepper spice and liquorice, and the small amount of Viognier in the blend makes the mouthfeel fleshy and smooth with elegance and grace. Voted Champion Red Wine of the Show by the judging team, a well-earned accolade!