Quality and sustainability were under the spotlight at this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards, with Church Road McDonald Series Syrah 2013 taking out the top prize. The Hawke’s Bay wine impressed the judges and beat out several strong contenders.
“It’s a wine with lovely ripe black-fruit and floral Syrah characters, and very well-handled subtle oak influence. The palate is full-bodied, with rich berry fruit and firm tannins to fill out the finish and ensure a long maturation potential,” said Michael Brajkovich, chair of judges and Master of Wine.

Over 1,400 wines entered the coveted competition, and 99 percent of them were accredited as being sustainably produced. Marlborough led the ranking with nine trophies followed by Hawke’s Bay with five, whilst Nelson and Otago took home 3 and 1 respectively. As well as the 18 trophies awarded, 36 Pure Elite Gold Medals and one Elite Gold Medal were also announced.
Air New Zealand Chief Operating Officer Bruce Parton congratulated all medal and trophy winners on behalf of the company.
“It’s been fantastic to see such a number of entries in this year’s competition from wineries across the country,” said Parton. “We’ve been a proud sponsor of the awards for 29 years, and are passionate about promoting home-grown wines and showcasing New Zealand as a destination for wine tourism.”

For the first time, the awards were also sponsored by Rangitikei, which presented the trophy for Exhibition White or Sparkling Wine to Mission Estate Winery. Their Jewelstone Chardonnay Hawke’s Bay 2014 proved to be a perfect match for Rangitikei’s chicken.
“It pairs beautifully with our corn-fed free range chickens, with the rich buttery taste and succulent texture complementing its fruity freshness,” said Jo Davidson, head of marketing, Rangitikei.