An Australian red and a New Zealand white have been crowned winners in New Zealand Wine Society’s Wine of the Year Awards, announced today.
South Australia’s Vasarelli Family Reserve McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016 and New Zealand’s Hawkesbridge Reserve Marlborough Pinot Gris 2017 won Top Red and Top White respectively in the event, which New Zealand Wine Society has been running annually for 24 years.
The wines were blind-tasted and evaluated by a panel of experts including New Zealand Wine Society’s head winemaker Jo Gear and cellar director Vic Williams, plus winemakers Jeremy McKenzie and Nick Badrice. All wines considered for the awards were drawn from New Zealand Wine Society’s extensive portfolio, with 12 reaching finalist stage.
The Hawkesbridge Reserve Pinot Gris was one of only a handful of 2017 vintage wines to be considered for White Wine of the Year, impressing the judges with its bright fruit aromatics.
“The wine showed classic super-ripe pear and baked apple aromas, with a rich, flavourful finish. It is very moreish and drinking beautifully now, so you don’t have to wait to open a bottle,” said Vic Williams.
In accepting the Award, Jo said the 2017 harvest was the most difficult she has worked.
“The quality of this year’s wines is testament to our hardworking and quality driven growers who worked so hard to deliver good fruit in highly adverse ripening conditions. I feel very fortunate to be part of the extremely dedicated Hawkesbridge team and it’s an absolute honour to have our wine selected as the 2017 White Wine of the Year.”
When it came to the 2016 Vasarelli Shiraz, the judging panel noted that it was “the embodiment of a harvest that has been declared one of the greatest in recent memory”, calling it “exceptionally vibrant, with vivid colour and aromas of dark fruit, mulberry and blackcurrant”.
Thrilled by winning the Top Red Wine award, Winemaker Nigel Dolan said the 2016 vintage in McLaren Vale was one of the best in recent years.
“A mild spring and early summer led into warm conditions across February and March during harvest,” he said. “This allowed full development of the fruit resulting in excellent colour, flavour and tannin balance. It’s an excellent example of what this region famously produces, from a great vintage.”
The top wines were evaluated for their quality, food-friendliness and memorability.
“We felt all the finalists’ wines are ones that people will love to share with friends and family particularly over dinner. The two winning wines however, really towered above the rest for their quality and delicious drinkability,” said Vic.
The judges suggest the Vasarelli Shiraz would be an ideal wine match for an Italian long lunch, accompanying dishes such as herbed braised lamb shanks on a bed of creamy polenta or an Italian-style tomato-based tortellini. As a food match for the Hawkesbridge Pinot Gris, they suggest a creamy courgette and fresh basil pasta dish or pan-fried salmon.
The winning wines, along with New Zealand Wine Society’s comprehensive portfolio, are available exclusively from nzwinesociety.co.nz