Year-on-year growth in entries has seen the New World Wine Awards become one of New Zealand’s leading wine shows, with a record 1,332 entries this year. At this scale, the independent judging panel of 13 wine experts will be required to blind-taste up to 120 wines each per day over three days from 3-5 August.
Chair of judges Jim Harré attributes this sustained growth to winemakers’ confidence in the integrity of the process, with wines judged using the same internationally recognised points system as all other leading wine awards, and the benefits of these awards over others in terms of distribution and promotion of medal-winning wines.
This year’s guest international judge is Dr Rowald Hepp, director and head winemaker of Schloss Vollrads in the Rhine Valley of Germany, a castle and wine estate that has been making Riesling for over 800 years. He joins 12 local wine experts on the judging panel including chair of judges and wine industry personality Jim Harré, as well as Kate Radburnd, Barry Riwai, Dr Alastair Leggat, Jane Boyle, Olly Masters, Sam Kim, Simon Nunns, Jane Cooper, Sarah Burton, James Rowan and Jack Glover.
Also contributing to driving up the number of entries this year was a change to the minimum number of bottles available for sale to be eligible to enter, down from 6,000 to 5,000. There are further reductions to the minimum stockholding for lesser-known varietals such as some aromatics and dessert wines, which are typically made in smaller quantities.
“This gives consumers nationwide the chance to get to know some of the lesser-known varietals by trying medal-winning wines that have been judged by an independent panel of expert wine judges,” says Mr Harré.
As well as availability of wines being one of the key criteria for entry – hence the minimum stockholding requirement – the other unique feature of the New World Wine Awards is that affordability is also paramount. Wines entered must retail for $25 or less.
“More and more people are choosing to buy their wine at the supermarket at the same time as they stop and get what they need for dinner, so the New World Wine Awards takes the guess work out of choosing award winning wines at a great price,” says Mr Harré.
Sales of the New World Wine Awards medal-winning wines attest to consumer confidence in these awards. In the first six weeks of the 2014 results being announced in September, 282,000 bottles of the ‘Top 50’ wines with a retail value of $4.2 million flew off New World supermarket shelves.
The independent panel of wine experts will judge the wines entered in the awards from the 3-5 August at Te Papa Museum in Wellington, scoring each wine according to the internationally recognised 20-point system. The judges will award Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, with the best wines in each category re-tasted to determine the Champion wine of each varietal, plus the overall Champion Red and Champion White.
Eight associate judges selected from New World’s nationwide team of Liquor Managers will also join the judges. Their scores do not count towards the final marks, but they have the opportunity to provide their opinions on each wine and learn from the professional wine judges. This judging experience helps them enhance the way they select wines for the New World cellars, and assist customers with questions about wine.
Award-winning wines will be announced in September 2015.