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Air New Zealand Wine Awards (Nov. 11, 2000)
Air New Zealand Wine Awards My short stay in New Zealand didn't allow enough time to get to all the country's top wine regions, so Hawke's Bay and Central Otago, among others, will have to await another visit. Happily, though, my visit coincided with the Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2000 tasting for New Zealand Wine Institute members in Wellington, which gave me a chance to glimpse some of the nation's best wines from all over. I managed to find my way to most of the gold-medal winners, including, I believe, all the medalist reds.

GOLD MEDALS

SPARKLING

Morton 1995 Recently Disgorged Methode Traditionelle - bready, creamy, rich.

REDS

Huntaway Reserve Marlborough 1999 Malbec - Dark garnet, plums and earth. Mouth-filling black fruit, balanced and long.

Haythornethwaite 1999 Martinborough Beverley Pinot Noir - Ruby-rose. Luscious perfumed floral scents. Full and velvety, ripe red fruit.

Mt. Difficulty 1999 Central Otago Pinot Noir - Ruby color, spicy cherry-berry perfume. Intense but balanced fruit.

Kaituna Valley 1999 The Awatere Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir - Clear ruby. Lean, almost austere, but lovely balance and length with clean Pinot fruit.

Chard Farm 1999 Central Otago Bragato Pinot Noir - Delicate floral aromas; much more open on the palate, elegant and balanced red fruit.

C.J.Pask 1998 Hawke's Bay Reserve Merlot - Dark purple. Ripe cherries and chocolate on the nose and palate, open and appealing.

C.J.Pask 1999 Hawke's Bay Reserve Merlot - Day-glo reddish-purple. Crisp blueberry aromas with a whiff of dill. Ample fruit structured with lemony acidity.

Vidal Estate Hawke's Bay 1998 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot - Dark garnet. Lovely black currant aroma. Tart acid and tannins add structure to bold, ripe fruit.

Mills Reef 1998 Hawkes Bay Elspeth Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah - Dark garnet. Herbal black fruit, earth and pepper.

C.J.Pask 1998 Hawke's Bay Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - Inky garnet. Ripe black fruit with grace notes uf dill and fragrant pepper. Big, tannic and structured. A mouth full, but well balanced.

Allan Scott 1998 "Prestige" Cabernet Sauvignon - Inky garnet. Light caramel scent. Much more impressive flavor, intense cassis and firm tannins. www.allanscott.comi

WHITES

Selfried 1999 Nelson Barrique Fermented Chardonnay - Honey, vanilla and beeswax, very full and rich.

Corbans 1999 Gisbourne Private Bin Chardonnay - Chestnuts and apples, big and sweet.

Lawson's Dry Hills 1999 Marlborough Chardonnay - Bright gold. Pineapple and oak, wood quite evident. Big and structured, tropical fruit and sweet oak.

Esk Valley 1999 Reserve Chardonnay - Pale straw. Chestnuts and wildflowers, elegant and restrained. Very rich and full flavor.

Matariki 1999 Hawke's Bay Chardonnay - Straw color. Crisp apples and baked bread. Full apple flavor with a touch of honeysuckle.

Cooper's Creek 1999 Hawke's Bay Chardonnay - Clear gold. Roasted chestnuts and spicy apple butter.

Villa Maria 1998 Marlborough Reserve Chardonnay - Candy apple, butterscotch and caramel; full and structured well.

Villa Maria 1997 Marlborough Reserve Barrique Fermented Chardonnay - Remarkable rich clover honey scent. Flavor consistent, dry and delicious.

Villa Maria 1996 Marlborough Reserve Barrique Fermented Chardonnay - Cream and honey, subtle and delicate. Big and full flavors. Impressive.

Fading, I skip the rest of the Chardonnays and the familiar Sauvignon Blancs and jump straight to the Rieslings.

Stoneleigh 1999 Marlborough Riesling - Lovely lemon-lime and mineral character, off-dry and pleasantly prickly.

Kim Crawford 1999 Marlborough Dry Riesling - Appetizing mango and pine. Tart, near-dry flavor, ripe limes and a whiff of Riesling "petrol."

Family Block 1999 Yarrum Vineyard Marlborough Riesling - Apples, honey and a whiff of conifer. Full-bodied, off-dry, with very tart lemony acidity.

Grove Mill 1999 Winemaker's Reserve Marlborough Riesling - Fresh apple and crisp lime, clean and long.

Villa Maria 1996 Private Bin Marlborough Riesling - Bright gold, intense minerally "petrol" and candy-apple aromas. Off-dry flavors are consistent with the nose, structured by steely acidity.

All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I accept no free samples from wineries or distributors, purchasing all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

Have you tasted these wines?
E-mail me your tasting notes, and I'll consider adding them to this page.

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