New Zealand tops international wine show

Sacred Hill’s 2016 Rifleman’s Chardonnay won 3 trophies at the 2018 Six Nations Wine Challenge. (Photo: Sacred Hill Wines)

New Zealand narrowly headed off Australia to win the trophy for top country at the Six Nations Wine Challenge this year. The competition started sixteen years ago; then ‘The Tri-Nations Wine Challenge’ with New Zealand, Australia and South Africa; but now also includes Chile, USA and Canada. South Africa earned third place, with the USA fourth, Canada fifth and Chile in sixth place.

From a judge’s perspective, this is a great show as it features many top wines that I would otherwise never encounter.

A judge/selector from each country is invited to choose their top 100 wines, which are then sorted by variety and style. Huon is judge/selector for Australia while I am the New Zealand judge/selector.

The total pool of 600 wines is then judged blind by the six judges to choose a winning country in each class and winning country overall. The top wine in each class earns a trophy.

New Zealand won the sparkling wine, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay classes on points while the following New Zealand wines earned a trophy for coming top in their respective classes:

Australian trophies include:

South African trophies:

  • Non-Aromatic Whites: Stellenrust 2016 Barrel Fermented Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch
  • Bordeaux Blends: Morgenster 2014 Estate Reserve, Stellenbosch
  • Dessert Wines: Nederburg 2004 Private Bin S316 Noble Late Harvest Weisser, Paarl

USA trophies:

  • Sparkling: Caraccioli Cellars 2009 Brut Cuvee, Santa Lucia Highlands
  • White Blends: Au Bon Climat Hildegard Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Aligote, Santa Maria
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Long Meadow Ranch 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, Napa Valley

Canadian trophies:

  • Riesling: Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2016 Winemakers Blend Riesling, Niagara
  • Shiraz/Syrah: Laughing Stock 2016 Syrah Viognier, Okanagan Valley

From a judge’s perspective, this is a great show as it features many top wines that I would otherwise never encounter. It’s also a chance to test the strengths of wine styles from five serious wine producing countries and to benchmark them against equivalent styles in New Zealand.

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