Villa Maria tops wine show awards

While the trophies for the Marlborough Wine Show did not make an appearance at the awards dinner on Saturday night because of freight issues, competition organisers did not let that put a dampener on the evening.

Villa Maria Estate came out on top this year, taking home champion wine of the show as well as five of the 15 other trophies awarded.

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2012 took out the O-I Champion Wine of the Show at the dinner at the Marlborough Convention Centre in Blenheim.

The company's Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Gris 2014 was awarded Champion Pinot Gris, its Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Vineyard Marlborough Chardonnay 2010 won Champion Chardonnay 2012 or older and the Villa Maria Reserve Marlborough Dry Riesling 2011 won Champion Riesling 2012 and older. The wine company's Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 won Champion Pinot Noir 2012 and its Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 was awarded Champion Pinot Noir 2011 and older. 

The competition, now in its fourth year, was set up by Wine Competition Ltd, founded by Belinda Jackson and Margaret Cresswell, of Blenheim.

Three judging panels, led by Ara Wines chief winemaker Jeff Clarke, tasted 530 wines, from 60 producers, over two days last month. Clarke was joined by New Zealand Master of Wine Jane Skilton and international judge Waston's Wine general manager Jeremy Stockman of Hong Kong.

They awarded 35 gold medals, 125 silver and 221 bronze. The event was established in 2011 to show the sub-regional and style diversity of Marlborough sauvignon blanc and showcase the region's other grape varieties and wine styles.

The Marlborough Museum Legacy Award, to Coopers Creek riesling, was also awarded on the night.

Sixteen wine companies competed for this year's award, presented to a company for three outstanding vintages of one wine within a 10-year period. Last year's winner was Johanneshof Cellars' gewurztraminer.

Wine Marlborough board chairman Clive Jones also presented the Wine Marlborough Lifetime Achievement Award. to Ivan Sutherland, of Dog Point Vineyards.

Sutherland was a long-standing member and pioneer of Marlborough's wine industry, Jones said.

"Ivan has always been a vocal advocate for one thing in the Marlborough wine industry, and that is an uncompromising approach to quality, where the future of the region has always been and always will be, based on growing quality grapes to make quality wine."

Sutherland has been involved in the wine industry for more than 35 years and had played a major role in the industry organisation, including many years as a Wine Marlborough board member. He retired from the board earlier this year.

Sutherland's wife, Margaret, accepted the award on behalf of her husband, who was overseas promoting 10 years of Dog Point Vineyards wines.

"I know Ivan would be totally surprised and honoured . . . on behalf of Ivan, thank you so much for this award. He would be blown away, and from his family, thank you for the special recognition of him."

Previous recipients of the award are Gerry Gregg, of Pernod Ricard New Zealand, Ross Lawson, of Lawson's Dry Hills, and Phil Rose, of Wairau River.