Tue, Jul 27, 2021 12:30 AM

Zero alcohol wines feature for first time at top awards

The New World Wine Awards are underway in Blenheim today, with zero alcohol varieties included for the first time. Photo: Supplied

Staff reporter

In what is likely a first for wine shows in New Zealand the New World Wine Awards underway in Blenheim today have welcomed their first ‘zero alcohol’ entries.

The New World Wine Awards judging starts today in Marlborough, with an independent panel of experts spending three full days pouring over more than 1,100 wine entries.

This year’s event will feature the ‘no and low’ alcohol category for the first time.

Co-Chair Sam Kim says: “The zero-alcohol category is a relatively new and developing one in the wine industry.

“We felt it was important to give these wines some additional attention in the hope that we can help consumers find wine options that will best suit their needs.”

After swirling, sniffing, sipping and spitting, their scores will whittle the field down to the best of the best.

Most of the entries will be wines that were harvested and made in 2019, 2020 and 2021 – each a year hailed for its unique combination of ideal growing conditions and grape quality.

Co-chair of judges Jen Parr says it is shaping up to be a very good year for wine-lovers looking for a new favourite.

“Each of these vintages was a standout in its own right, and they are combining to make this year’s field of entries a particularly exciting one to taste our way through,” she says.

As one of the first wine competitions following New Zealand’s late summer harvest, the panel will be among the first to judge and score a raft of new vintage wines.

This will include more than 170 Sauvignon Blanc from the 2021 vintage, as well as Pinot Gris, Riesling and Rosé wines. Meanwhile, the red wine classes promise a strong contingent of entries from New Zealand’s 2019 and 2020 vintages, including hundreds of local Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, and other blended wines.

The independent judging panel is made up of experts from across the wine industry, including respected winemakers, wine scientists, and industry professionals.

“These awards continue to attract and welcome back some of the most accomplished wine professionals – and palates – in the country. They know how to recognise excellence in the glass, and all really enjoy the process of finding top drops for wine lovers,” says Kim.

For all entries, the panel will evaluate each wine on colour, taste and smell, making collective scoring decisions according to the internationally recognised 100-point system to award Gold (95-100 points), Silver (90-94) and Bronze medals (85-89).

To earn Gold a wine will have been tasted and graded at least 19 times by 11 different judges, and it will be tasted again to be ranked in, or out, of the ‘New World Wine Awards Top 50’.

The best of the Top 50 will then be tasted once again by the entire judging panel to determine the Champions of each main varietal, and an overall Champion Red and Champion White.

The full results will be announced in October.