New Zealand-made wines have taken 42 of the 50 placings in the New World Wine Awards Top 50 list announced today.
Over the competition’s 19-year history the results have become a highly anticipated, ‘go to’ list for award-winning drops that are both widely available and affordable. All the Top 50 wines are now available in liquor-selling New World stores nationwide for $25 or less.
It took three full days of judging, conducted in Blenheim prior to the recent lockdown, to find the best wines among more than 1,100 entries from around New Zealand and the world.
“After swirling, sniffing, tasting and spitting, lots of retasting, and even more discussion, our independent judging panel finally reached a consensus on the 50 best wines,” says Co-Chair of Judges Sam Kim.
“Our judging is ‘blind’ – we don’t know the brand of any wine, and we assess to international standards. Every one of these winners have truly earned their place in the Top 50 and we are really excited for consumers to explore the list for themselves.”
The 2021 New World Wine Awards Top 50 includes many favourite NZ wines from local winemaking hot spots like Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Central Otago, alongside stand out wines from smaller-producing regions, exciting first-time winners and interesting new varieties.
“The winning wines will appeal to a broad range of wine lovers, from those looking for a classic choice to those with a desire to experiment and explore.”
A toast to the ‘triple crown’ years
Kim says that the judges were presented with an incredibly strong field again this year, thanks in part to three outstanding winegrowing seasons in New Zealand.
“The vintages of 2019, 2020 and 2021 will be remembered as ‘The Triple Crown’ for many of our local wine regions and especially for our most famed wine, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.”
Indeed, consumers will be spoilt for choice with Marlborough delivering 19 of the Top 50 wines including well-known name Yealands taking the Champion Sauvignon Blanc title, Te Pa the Champion Chardonnay, and Rapaura Springs the Champion Pinot Gris.
Hawke’s Bay was close behind clinching seven of the top spots including local icon Trinity Hill’s trifecta of Champion titles for Syrah, Red Blend and Red Wine of the Show, while Otago retained its prowess in Pinot Noir with three winning wines.
Meanwhile New Zealand’s smallest wine regions – some representing just 1% to 3% of the country’s total wine production, punched above their weight with Top 50 wines from Gisborne, Wairarapa, Nelson and Canterbury.
New and rare varieties take pride of place on shelves nationwide
For wine drinkers looking for something new, there are several exciting NZ wines varieties nestled among the big names too, says Co-Chair Jen Parr.
“The New World Wine Awards strives to welcome a wide range of entries to give smaller wineries a chance and enable a list that that spans not only regions, but varieties and preferences too – and it’s really paid off this year.”
For example, Albariño, a Spanish variety that is fast gaining a foothold in New Zealand vineyards, has made the Top 50 again for the second year running, this time from Villa Maria’s Reserve range.
“Albariño is relatively new to Kiwi palates, but it is right up our alley and is really starting to develop a following. To me it tastes a bit like someone bottled sunshine and a warm sea breeze, and it’s the perfect match to a summer’s evening and fresh seafood.”
Even rarer, a 2015 Ehrenfelser from first time-winner Lone Goat, is a must try if you like aromatic wines and are keen for something new, but “you’ll have to be quick” insists Parr!
“There is only one commercial hectare of the German Ehrenfelser grape grown in New Zealand, and there are just 1800 bottles of this beautiful six-year-old wine available. It really is something special.”
Other emerging variety wines in the Top 50 come courtesy of Argentina with a Malbec, Spain with a Tempranillo and via Australia with a Petite Sirah.
Trend-setters return with a fresh approach
The 2021 New World Wine Awards Top 50 also shows that trendy wines can be top-notch too.
In total, nine Rosé wines earned a Top 50 spot – making nearly 1 in 5 of the winning wines a stunning shade of pink, with two of these being sparkling.
“This is a class that just keeps proving itself through both increasing quality and popularity with consumers,” says Parr, noting Rosé is becoming a common choice year-round and for its versatility with food.
And she suggests it’s the sparkling Rosé winners which may catch the eye of the keenest trend-setters, with offerings from Lindauer and Invivo’s Graham Norton’s Own range combining the popularity of both Rosé and bubbly.