28 Aug 2015

Wine awards recognise top drops from the Bay

5:37 pm on 28 August 2015

Some of the country's best viticulturists and vineyards have been recognised for their grape growing skills.

The Bragato wine awards were announced in Hawke's Bay last night as part of the New Zealand Winegrowers Romeo Bragato conference.

Caleb Dennis

Caleb Dennis Photo: Supplied

A Villa Maria chardonnay, with grapes grown by Brett Donaldson, won the Bragato Trophy.

And a Villa Maria cabernet sauvignon merlot, made from grapes grown by Phil Holden in Hawke's Bay, won the champion domaine wine.

Chair of the judges, Ben Glover, said the competition recognises the grape growing behind a top drop.

"The Bragato show is quite unique. It actually champions the vineyard, so it's not just about the wine maker or the companies. It really goes down into where that fruit came from, how good was the team, and the winemaking team, at expressing the vineyard and then how good it was in the glass?"

Mr Glover said judging the wines was a tough job, but the winners produced quality which stood out.

"Villa Maria group have really pushed and tried to champion chardonnay and make chardonnay relevant again to wine drinkers. Their adherence to quality, looking at what they do in the vineyard, crop loading, making sure the fruit looks absolutely superb. You have to take your hat off to the viticulturist and what they do there."

He said the merlot was also superb.

"The thing you've got to look at there is vintage 13 and vintage 14s out of the Bay were exceptionally good years, so it's probably no surprise that a merlot came through. It was pretty superb, beautiful fruit, lovely poise and a pleasure to drink. And it's not often they do get shown, they're often overshadowed by the other red varieties that are grown further south in New Zealand."

The young viticulturist of the year was also announced last night, Caleb Dennis, of Hawke's Bay won the title and will go on to compete in the young horticulturist of the year in November.