Behind the Scenes at the New World Wine Awards

New World Wine Awards 2016New World Wine Awards 2016

The New World Wine Award winners are going to be announced shortly and we can’t wait to hear the news of the winners after looking behind the scenes at the judging in Wellington last week.

Following the announcement of the 2015 New World Wine Awards results last year, 323,000 bottles of wine, with a retail value in excess of $4.6m, sold in the first six weeks of the promotion last year. Some Champion wines were so popular that they sold-out within the first 10 days.

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This year we were invited to go backstage, ‘behind-the-scenes’ to catch up with how they create this virtual masterpiece of wine selections that you will soon be able to enjoy in your local New World Supermarket.

First of all, you need to understand that this is a heroic endeavour. From the organisation to the number of wines, to the caliber of the judges, it is first-rate the entire way.

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Second of all, the number of wines that are submitted is mind-blowing with generally just under 100 bottles winning the gold distinction. We, New Zealander’s, are very fortunate to not only have this many award-winning wines at our disposal but to have such a varied and rich winemaking culture from diverse regions, to varieties and winemakers.

So for an epic three days, at the Wellington Westpac Stadium, game faces come on as the judges get together and taste up to 120 wines each day. (They are experienced spitters to say the least!)

So here are some insights into what is soon to be coming to you:

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The Numbers

  • 1325 wines are judged from 162 different wineries.
  • There are 13 independent expert wine judges plus eight Associate Judges selected from New World stores nationwide to work alongside the judging panel. They provide a score and an opinion on each wine, but their scores do not count towards the final mark.
  • Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay have the most entries (388 & 202 entries respectively), followed by Canterbury, Central Otago and Wairarapa.
  • The Rosé category saw the biggest growth with 80% more entries (Go Dare to Pink #sipnzrose).
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Pinot Noir were the top 3 categories followed by Pinot Gris and Chardonnay (I think it is making a comeback!).
  • Over 17 pallets are shipped in for the event and the organisers only have 1 day to set up over 4,000 bottles of wine (several of each provided), wash over 2,500  wine glasses and set up all the logistics so that it runs like a swiss motion watch.
  • Of the 17 pallets, 5 pallets are wine glasses and the rest are wine. At the end of the event 10 pallets of wine are shipped out and then auctioned off for charity, so not only do they do us a service by providing the best wines, they do the community a service by creating valuable donation funds.
  • Each glass is used 5-6 times so think about that… 2,500 glasses x 6 = 15,000 glasses to wash!!!

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The Brief

  • These are wines to be enjoyed by the public and must be under $25 retail.
  • They must also produce at least 5000 bottles so that we may all partake in the consumption.
  • These are the best drinking wines for the money.
  • There are a lot of wineries that participate in this awards selection that don’t in other wine competitions.

The Judges

Seriously this group are the heavyweight champs, the who’s who of wine judges and those whose tastebuds can outlast and out taste all of us 100 times over.

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The independent panel of 13 expert wine judges is chaired by Jim Harré, and includes Jane Boyle, Terry Copeland, Simon Fell, Jack Glover, Sam Kim, Dr Alastair Leggat, Alastair Maling MW, Olly Masters, Simon Nunns, James Rowan, and Barry Riwai.

Within this group, they have also recruited Sue Hodder, one of Australia’s most well-known winemakers and an international wine judge. Not content to have just our own taste the wines, they recruited one of the best from across the ditch to make it legit.

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They use the same internationally recognised 20-point system as all other leading wine shows. 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.

The Results

So all we have to do now is sit tight and wait for the results to come out in October. I know, it sounds like a long time but you can be sure that these wines will knock your socks off!

Thank you New World for organising this grand event, especially as you are my local supermarket down the road!


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