Wine competiton in full flow

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 11:24 16/07/2014
Belinda Jackson
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ
BOTTOMS UP: Wine Competition Ltd director and event organiser Belinda Jackson raises a glass to the start of the Spiegelau International Wine Competition

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Judges are kicking off day two at the Spiegelau International Wine Competition by tasting more than 170 sauvignon blanc wines that have come from all over the world.

The annual Blenheim-based wine competition, now in its fourth year, started yesterday morning at the Marlborough Convention Centre, with judges tasting wines from New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Italy, France, South Africa, South America and Portugal.

A record 1320 wines would be tasted over three days.

There are 12 judges, including chief judge Mike DeGaris, of Sydney, and international guest judges Melbourne-based Ralph Kyte-Powell, Royal Adelaide Wine Show chief judge Sue Hodder and WineFront.com.au editor-at-large and contributor Mike Bennie.

They were joined by Misha's Vineyard winemaker Olly Masters, of Central Otago, Ara Wine Estate chief winemaker Jeff Clarke, of Marlborough, and Trinity Hill chief winemaker Warren Gibson, of Napier.

The competition was set up by the Wine Competition Ltd, which was founded by Belinda Jackson and Margaret Cresswell of Blenheim.

Jackson said entries were up by about 200 over last year.

"It's record numbers for us. Our biggest class is pinot noir on about 250."

Each judge would taste an average of 100 wines each day, she said.

They set up for the competition on Monday, which included cleaning 4899 wine glasses.

Each wine is tasted from glasses specifically designed for that style, provided by the competition's partner, glassware manufacturer Spiegelau.

The lead-up to the event had been "very good", Jackson said.

"We've had great help from TNL freight - they have been receiving all of our wine samples for judging."

The biggest challenge was dealing with the changes to New Zealand's postal service, she said.

"We had wine coming from South Australia and TNL got them to Blenheim overnight, but it took a week to get a piece of paper from Blenheim to Blenheim."

All the wine that would normally get "tipped down the sink" would be available for wine industry people to taste between 5.30pm and 6.30pm each night.

Tomorrow night, any unopened wine bottles would be donated to the Cresswell Jackson New Zealand Wine Trust and then auctioned.

Money raised from the auction would go towards funding wine industry research and development projects, through grants and scholarships.

Last year's auction raised $14,000 and Jackson said she hoped to top that this year.

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All medal winners will be announced on Tuesday and trophies will be announced at an awards dinner on August 8.

- The Marlborough Express

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