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North Canterbury winery Waipara Hills takes top awards

Waipara Hills was the big winner at the New Zealand Aromatic Wine Competition and Canterbury Wine Competition judging weekend in Christchurch recently.

Nearly 300 wines were judged over two days by a blind panel of international and national wine judges. Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling 2016 was judged as the Supreme Champion Wine in Show and Supreme Champion Canterbury Wine in Show as part of the new Canterbury Wine Competition.

Chairman of judges Jim Harre said, “The team at Waipara Hills have again demonstrated the highest quality of winemaking. It’s excellent to see this quality shine through each year and we were delighted that their wines have again shown such a high standard.”

The judges’ tasting notes paint a glowing review of the Riesling, which means it will surely become a staple on the summer barbeque wish list: Concentrated with tons of ripe ginger marmalade richness; a Riesling that has stacks of everything including finesse and a beautiful acid line. For anyone that ever doubted the power and finesse of Riesling, here is the perfect opportunity to reassess that view.

Waipara Hills Winemaker Andrew Brown was delighted with the awards. He said, “To be awarded Supreme Champion Wine in Show is a great achievement for the whole Waipara Hills team, where our winemaking starts in the vineyard. It’s fantastic to see that a variety like Riesling can stand out from the pack and this award recognises that the Waipara Valley is producing some of the finest aromatics in New Zealand.”

Mr Harre said that the judges were impressed with the overall standard of wine in both competitions. He said, “As always we assembled a group of high caliber judges and they were impressed with the high quality of wines on offer in both competitions, awarding 24 golds, 59 silvers and 141 bronzes. It was fantastic to see the wines that are known for their high quality coming through well in the blind judging process.

Also judged on October 7 was the New Zealand Winemaker of the Year. Michael Wood from Obsidian Vineyard in Waiheke Island was the overall winner after he impressed the judges with good consistency across three wines.

Mr Wood was delighted with the win. He said, “It’s fantastic and I think most importantly it recognizes the hard work that goes into all of the wine we make. It starts in the vineyard and ends up at the winery for the final step.”

Mr Wood chose to enter with three reds; the Obsidian Reserve Syrah 2015 and two cabernet blends (Obsidian Reserve ‘The Mayor’ 2013 and Obsidian Reserve ‘The Obsidian’ 2015).

“I think the wines that have really put Waiheke Island on the map are Bordeaux-style wines, so I decided to enter with cabernet blends that demonstrate what Waiheke is capable of producing. I also chose the 2015 Obsidian Reserve Syrah as a good example of what Waiheke can produce in a reasonable year.”

Eight trophies were awarded in the New Zealand Aromatic Wine Competition:

Beck & Caul Supreme Champion Wine in Show – Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling 2016;

Champion Riesling – Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling 2016;

Champion Sauvignon Blanc – Villa Maria Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2017;

Champion Gewürztraminer – Saint Clair Pioneer Block 12 Lone Gum Gewürztraminer 2016;

Champion Other Aromatic – Left Field Gisborne Albarino 2016;

Champion Pinot Gris – Summerhouse Pinot Gris 2017;

Champion Rosé – Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Noir Rosé 2017 and

Champion Sweet – Tohu Raiha Reserve Noble Riesling 2015.


Three trophies were awarded in the Canterbury Wine Competition:

Macvine Supreme Champion Wine In Show – Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling 2016;

Canterbury Champion Riesling – Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Riesling 2016 and

Canterbury Champion Rosé – Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Noir Rosé 2017.


Winning wines will be displayed during the Canterbury A&P Show in the Food & Wine Village from 15 to 17 November 2017. For a full list of results go to: http://www.theshow.co.nz/show-entries/international-aromatic-wine-competition/#results

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