Air NZ Wine Awards attracts 1402 wine entries with a surge in rose
A surge in popularity of rosé has led to an increase in entries of the pink tipple at this year's Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
About 100 rosé wines were entered into this year's competition, overtaking entries in the riesling and syrah categories.
The rosé category was just one of 15 classes that were tasted by a group of 26 judges, who looked, swirled, sniffed, sipped, gargled and spit 1402 wines during a three-day event in Auckland.
From that, they will select the country's top drops for 2016.
* Hawke's Bay syrah wins top trophy at Air New Zealand Wine Awards
* Sustainable wines dominate Air New Zealand Wine Awards entries
* Summer wine sales are coming up rose
* Rosé spiked iceblocks strictly adults-only
* Air New Zealand sets new benchmark for wine industry
* Opinion: Why you can rely on wine show awards
International judge and Australian wine writer Ralph Kyte-Powell said the quality of Kiwi wines was a reflection of advanced and competent winemaking skills.
"Winemaking is technically very, very competent and very advanced, and I think that reflects in the wine that we've seen here.
"The average quality of New Zealand sauvignon and pinot, and everything else - riesling too, is really up there," he said.
"And when you look at the world, these wines really are at the cutting edge, I think - in terms of consistency."
The other international judge - Wine Review Online editor Michael Franz - said New Zealand wines stood out for their "freshness and brightness".
"[That] puts them into an interesting area between European wines and other very warm, ripe new world wines, and really creates a niche that New Zealand feels nowhere else in the world does."
Pinot noir was once again the most popular variety entered with 267 entries, followed by sauvignon blanc with 241 entries.
Gold medal wines will be announced on October 26 and trophy winners would be announced at an awards dinner on November 12 in Auckland.
The dinner will be attended by New Zealand's top winemakers and industry figures.
The most coveted prize of the competition, the Air New Zealand champion wine of the show trophy, will be announced at the dinner.
Last year, the trophy went to Church Road McDonald Series Syrah 2013, which is owned by international drinks giant Pernod Ricard.
The event, now in its 41st year, is owned and organised by New Zealand Winegrowers.