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  • Elaine Chukan Brown
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  • Elaine Chukan Brown
27 Nov 2017

This last weekend the gala celebration for the 2017 Air New Zealand Wine Awards took place in Hawke's Bay. Trophy-winning wines were announced during the dinner with Marlborough taking top honours for 12 of the 17 trophy categories, including the top two prizes. Marlborough's success this year was especially welcome as the awards were announced almost exactly one year after the Kaikoura earthquake which impacted wineries throughout the region. Dashwood Pinot Noir 2016 Marlborough won the O-I New Zealand Reserve Wine of Show, and Isabel Chardonnay 2016 Marlborough took the top prize, Air New Zealand Champion Wine of Show. A total of 1,300 wines entered the competition this year. Warren Gibson, winemaker for Trinity Hill and Bilancia, served as Chair of Judges.

Also at the event, four new fellows were announced, recognised for their long-term commitment to the New Zealand wine industry: Babich's founder and winemaker Joe Babich; Riversun Nursery's Geoff Thorpe, who founded New Zealand's first vine nursery; Matua Valley co-founder Bill Spence; and New Zealand Winegrowers long-standing employee Lorraine Rudelj.

During the ceremony New Zealand Winegrower's chair Steve Green of Carrick in Central Otago also announced that the New Zealand Winegrowers are donating NZ$25,000 to the fire relief efforts in California with the funds going to all four counties impacted by the fires – Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties. The donation was made in recognition of how interconnected the wine industry is all over the world, and to assist in the recovery and rebuilding efforts in California. During the fires, fire fighters from New Zealand were deployed to fight the fires in California's North Coast.

As I had served as an international judge this year for the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, I was also present for the awards ceremony, and was symbolically presented with the donation to the California fire relief effort (Elaine is seen above with Steve Green of Carrick in Central Otago). It was especially moving to receive this as my daughter and I were evacuated from the fires a mere week before I travelled to New Zealand for the judging. The other two international judges were Sarah Knowles MW of The Wine Society in London, and P J Charteris of Charteris Wines in the Hunter Valley.

TROPHY WINNERS

AIR NEW ZEALAND CHAMPION WINE OF THE SHOW
Isabel Chardonnay 2016 Marlborough 

O-I NEW ZEALAND RESERVE WINE OF THE SHOW
Dashwood Pinot Noir 2016 Marlborough 

JF HILLEBRAND NEW ZEALAND CHAMPION PINOT NOIR
Dashwood Pinot Noir 2016 Marlborough 

LABEL AND LITHO LIMITED CHAMPION SAUVIGNON BLANC
Goldwater Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Wairau Valley, Marlborough

RABOBANK CHAMPION CHARDONNAY
Isabel Chardonnay 2016 Marlborough 

DISH MAGAZINE CHAMPION OPEN RED WINE
Dashwood Pinot Noir 2016 Marlborough 

BAYLEYS REAL ESTATE CHAMPION MERLOT, CABERNET AND BLENDS
Villa Maria, Cellar Selection Organic Merlot 2016 Hawke's Bay

FRUITFED SUPPLIES CHAMPION SYRAH
Coopers Creek, Reserve Syrah 2016 Hawke's Bay 

GUALA CLOSURES NEW ZEALAND CHAMPION PINOT GRIS
Saddleback Pinot Gris 2017 Central Otago 

NEW WORLD CHAMPION OPEN WHITE WINE
Goldwater Sauvignon Blanc 2017 Wairau Valley, Marlborough 

NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWERS CHAMPION SWEET WINE
Forrest, Botrytised Riesling 2016 Marlborough 

PLANT & FOOD RESEARCH CHAMPION RIESLING
Mount Riley Riesling 2017 Marlborough 

QUAY CONNECT CHAMPION OTHER WHITE STYLES
Nautilus Albarino 2017 Marlborough 

RIEDEL NEW ZEALAND CHAMPION GEWURZTRAMINER
Lawson's Dry Hills Gewurztraminer 2016 Marlborough

WINEWORKS CHAMPION SPARKLING WINE
Aotea by the Seifried Family, Méthode Traditionnelle NV Nelson 

NEW ZEALAND WINEGROWERS CHAMPION EXHIBITION WHITE OR SPARKLING WINE
Isabel, Wild Barrique Chardonnay 2016 Marlborough 

NEW HOLLAND AGRICULTURE CHAMPION EXHIBITION RED WINE
Falcon Ridge, Estate Syrah 2016 Nelson