A small family-owned winery upset the industry heavyweights by winning the supreme prize at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards in Queenstown. It was also the first time a sparkling wine has triumphed.
The Nautilus Cuvée Brut NV (non-vintage) was produced at Marlborough’s Nautilus Estate winery, which was established in 1985. The wine was one of six gold medal-winning sparkling wines in the competition, which this year resulted in a haul of 111 golds from 1379 entries.
The supreme winner is chosen from the winners of more than a dozen wine categories, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The Nautilus Cuvée, a mix of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, was first produced in 1989. It has been a favourite ever since and has recently won awards at the Sydney International Wine Competition and the Royal Easter Show. It retails at $39.90.
Judging panel chairman Michael Brajkovich described the wine as having “a richness, length and complexity on the palate that finishes with a fine, persistent acidity.”
“This is a classic expression of this exciting wine style and a clear pointer as to how good New Zealand Sparkling wine already is, and can be in the future,” he added.
The second overall wine, winning the Reserve Wine of the Show trophy, was the Villa Maria Reserve Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay 2012. Villa Maria was the top winery with a total of four trophies (including its Esk Valley label).
However, some of the major companies, such as Delegat’s, do not enter the awards. No trophies were awarded for Gewurtztraminer or Other red styles.
Category trophy winners were:
Sauvignon Blanc: Boundary Vineyards Rapaura Road Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Pinot Gris: Lake Chalice Marlborough Pinot Gris 2013
Riesling: Highfield Riesling 2012
Other white styles and Rosé: Coopers Creek SV Gisborne Albariño 'Bell-Ringer' 2013
Dessert: Riverby Estate Noble Riesling 2012
Pinot Noir: Greystone Waipara Valley Pinot Noir 2012
Syrah: Elephant Hill Syrah 2012
Merlot, Cabernet and blends: Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2010
Open white: Lake Chalice Marlborough Pinot Gris 2013
Open red: Church Road McDonald Series Merlot 2011
Champion exhibition white or sparkling wine: Villa Maria Single Vineyard Keltern Chardonnay 2012
Champion exhibition red wine: Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Hawke’s Bay Syrah 2010