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Sustainable wines hit record level at Air NZ awards

More than 1300 wines from 222 wineries entered the Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2012, with the biggest percentage ever being sustainable.

Philip Manson, general manager sustainability at New Zealand Winegrowers, says a record 92% of this year’s entries have been sustainably accredited. In 2011 it was 75%.

The increase shows a continuing focus on the environmental integrity of New Zealand wines, he says.

“It is encouraging to see our winemakers embracing sustainability. We are world leaders in this area and with increasing numbers of sustainable wines accredited each year we are set to continue on this path.”

For the New Zealand wine industry, sustainability means delivering excellent wine to consumers in a way that enables the natural environment, the businesses and the communities involved to thrive.

Sustainable wines are 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.

The 25 judges, including several from Britain, Canada and Australia under the chairmanship of Michael Brajkovich, spent three days last week tasting a total of 1367 wines in 17 classes.

“Sauvignon blanc is very strong. Pinot noir’s always a standout. Chardonnay is extraordinary,” Mt Brajkovich says.

Growers are experimenting more with different styles. While new varieties such as temparino, grenache and alberino are small in quantity “the quality is getting better and better”, he says.

The medal winning wines will be announced on November 14, with elite medal and trophy winners announced at the awards dinner on November 24 in Wellington.