Air New Zealand Wine Awards, Queenstown

Drink / 12 December 2013
Champion Wine of the Show Trophy winner, Clive Jones, winemaker at Nautilus Estate and Air NZ CEO, Christopher Luxon

New Zealand is known globally for it’s picturesque landscapes, friendly population and award-winning wine. I was lucky enough to experience all of these recently at the annual Air New Zealand Wine Awards in Queenstown.

Organised and owned by New Zealand Winegrowers, this prestigious wine competition is regarded as the official competition of the New Zealand wine industry.

Over 520 guests gathered in anticipation to see who would win the coveted prize of Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show. This year’s winner was the Nautilus Cuvée Brut NV, a sparkling wine from Marlborough wine producer, Nautilus Estate. This is only the third time in the 27-year history of the Awards that a Sparkling wine has won this major prize. Nautilus Cuvée Brut NV also won the Wineworks Champion Sparkling Wine Trophy.

Nautilus Estate, is a small, family-owned Marlborough winery that opened in 1985. The Nautilus Cuvée Brut NV is made from Marlborough-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, and has become an iconic sparkling on the New Zealand wine scene since its launch in 1989.

The Marlborough region was a hot favourite on the night with the highest number of Pure Elite Gold Medals being awarded to wines from this region, followed by Hawke’s Bay and Otago.

Comedian Jeremy Corbett, was the evening’s MC for the evening making light of some rather controversial issues and keeping us entertained in between courses. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy a five-course meal created by Air New Zealand consultant, chef Peter Gordon. Tough life!

Sustainability was a big trend at the awards with an astounding 96% of wines entered in the competition being sustainably accredited. To be labelled a ‘sustainable wine’ it must be produced from grapes that have been accredited or certified through an independently audited sustainability programme. The winemaking and packaging facilities used must also have been accredited or certified.

My favourite variety of New Zealand wine is pinot noir from Central Otago and Marlborough. To my delight there were several bottles from these regions for me to try.

Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2013 Trophy Winners

Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show- Nautilus Cuvée Brut NV

O-I New Zealand Reserve Wine of the Show- Villa Maria Reserve Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2012

Label and Litho Limited Champion Sauvignon Blanc- Boundary Vineyards Rapaura Road Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Rabobank New Zealand Limited Champion Chardonnay- Villa Maria Reserve Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2012

Guala Closures NZ Champion Pinot Gris- Lake Chalice Marlborough Pinot Gris 2013

Plant & Food Research Champion Riesling- Highfield Riesling 2012

ICIB Gold Medal Insurance Champion Gewürztraminer- Not Awarded

BDO Champion Other White Styles and Rosé- Coopers Creek SV Gisborne Albariño ‘Bell-Ringer’ 2013

Wineworks Champion Sparkling Wine- Nautilus Cuvée Brut NV Champion Dessert Wine- Riverby Estate Noble Riesling 2012

JF Hillebrand New Zealand Ltd Champion Pinot Noir- Greystone Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2012

Fruitfed Supplies Limited Champion Syrah- Elephant Hill Syrah 2012

Coast FM Champion Merlot, Cabernet and Blends- Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2010

Fairfax Media Champion Other Red Styles- Not Awarded

New World Champion Open White Wine-Lake Chalice Marlborough Pinot Gris 2013

Liquorland Champion Open Red Wine- Church Road McDonald Series Merlot 2011

Waitoa Free Range Chicken Champion Exhibition White or Sparkling Wine- Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2012

Business World Travel Champion Exhibition Red Wine- Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2010

Nautilus Cuvée Brut NV, winner of the Air New Zealand Champion Wine of the Show