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The experts who judge the top drops

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We’re delighted to celebrate the 16th year of our highly regarded wine competition judged by an independent panel of wine experts. Chair of Judges, Jim Harré, carefully selected experienced wine judges for the 2018 New World Wine Awards. He specifically sought well-known and well-respected judges who could provide a range of expertise on different styles and varietals of wine. The world-class backroom team of Stewards was lead by Shona White.

The New World Wine Awards are judged using the same internationally recognised points system as other leading wine shows, ensuring medal-winning wines are the best example of their type. This means that a Gold medal wine in the New World Wine Awards is held to the same standard as any other Gold medal wine. The only difference with our competition is that accessibility and affordability of the wines are key criteria for entry. All wines entered must retail for $25 or less a bottle* and at least 5,000 bottles must be available for sale, or 3,000 bottles for niche varietals.

This year 1,258 wines were entered from 178 wineries. The wines were judged by an independent panel of 17 expert wine judges who blind-tasted and evaluated the wines over three days. This means judges only see the wine in the glass, never any bottles or brands. All they know is the varietal, vintage and country of origin. 65% of wines were awarded medals, illustrating the constant improvement in the quality of wines entered into the competition and that consumers can buy fantastic wines under $25.

Each wine is judged solely on its merits using the internationally recognised 100 point scoring system. Using a double blind identification system, a panel of three judges each individually assess and score each wine. The judges then convene to discuss their findings and re-taste the top Gold and Silver wines. At this stage the re-pours are randomised to ensure every wine is treated equally. Once the Gold medals are agreed by the panel, these wines are again randomised and the panel leaders, international judges and Chair each rank the wines. This ranking is used to determine the Top 50 Gold medal-winning wine selection. At the final stage of judging, the full judging panel convene to taste the top 3 ranked wines in each varietal and to award the ten Champion wines.

To receive a Gold medal, the wine will have been tasted and graded at least 19 times by 11 different judges. Our Champion wines go through the incredibly robust process of being tasted at least 36 times. All 17 judges have tasted them and agreed!

The integrity of the competition and robust procedures are maintained by Shona White, Chief Steward, who also ensures no judge tastes their own wine entered into the competition.

If you enjoy numbers, 26 pallets of wine, glasses and equipment were trucked into Westpac Stadium in Wellington for the judging. The stewarding team set up over 5,600 bottles of wine in their correct positions in a single day. The judges were kept hydrated with hundreds of bottles of Acqua Panna and sparkling San Pellegrino water. Each of the 13 stewards walked 15 – 20km a day serving wines, a total distance of over 585km, or from Wellington to Hamilton. 11,759 glasses of wine were poured and during the glass washing only 8 of the 2,700 Spiegelau wine glasses were broken.

* New World Wine Awards Top 50 wines priced at $25 or less until 18 November 2018. After this time the retail price may vary.

Meet the Judges

 Jim Harré, Chair of Judges

Jim Harré’s passion for wine runs in the family – his grandfather, father and brother were all winemakers and another brother is involved in the wine and food industry in France. Jim has been involved in the New World Wine Awards since 2008, this being his 11th year as Chair of the Judging Panel. He also has extensive experience judging in New Zealand as well as in Australia, China, Japan, UK and USA. His roles include Panel Chair for New Zealand Winegrowers, Chair of Judges for the China and Japan Wine Challenge, Chair of Judges for the Australian Small Winemakers Show, Chair of Judges for the International Aromatic Wine Show, Panel Chair for the International Wine Challenge in London and a wine consultant for Air New Zealand. Passionate about all aspects of wine and food, Jim is excited about the 2018 New World Wine Awards and celebrating the 16th year of this wine show.

Ying Hsien Tan MW, International Judge

Ying qualified as the first Singaporean Master of Wine in 2015, one of the first two men from Asia to attain the qualification. He owns Taberna Wine Academy where he conducts tastings, classes, wine dinners and hosts leading wine producers. Ying has spoken on wine in Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, London, Ningxia and Perth. He has judged at international wine competitions frequently, including the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Competition and Decanter Asia Wine Awards. He is currently researching a book on champagne.

Dr Rowald Hepp, International Judge, Panel Leader

Dr Rowald Hepp is the Principal and Head Winemaker at Germany’s Schloss Vollrads wine estate, the longest permanent selling winery in the world whose documented sales date back to 1211. Dr Hepp was educated as a viticulturist, winemaker and distiller. His academic achievements include a Winemaking and Oenology degree from Geisenheim University, and a Masters degree and PhD in International Wine Trade. Dr Hepp‘s extensive experience allows him to travel the world participating in a variety of judging competitions in breath-taking places like Germany, Japan, China, Austria, Switzerland, England, South Africa, the USA and New Zealand.

James Rowan, Panel Leader

James Rowan has been the senior winemaker at West Brook Winery in Auckland – a family-owned winery established in 1935 – for the past 14 years, making wine from Matakana, Auckland, Waiheke Island, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and Marlborough. He has been a senior wine judge at numerous New Zealand wine competitions, including Air New Zealand Wine Awards, Gisborne Regional Wine Awards, the Romeo Bragato Wine Awards, the New Zealand International Wine Show and the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards. James is also a senior cider judge. Over the years, James has shared his passion and knowledge for wine with various New Zealand magazines and trade publications.

Kate Radburnd, Panel Leader

Kate Radburnd is one of New Zealand's most respected winemakers. After receiving an Oenology degree in her native Australia, Kate moved to New Zealand in 1983 to work as an assistant winemaker at Vidal with legendary New Zealand winemaker George Fistonich. She joined Pask Winery Ltd in 1991, became joint owner in 1993, and managing director in 1999 until 2017, when she sold her shareholding. Kate’s new winery venture Radburnd Cellars Ltd was established in September 2017. As a highly regarded ambassador for New Zealand's wine industry, Kate has served as a senior judge at many prestigious international wine competitions and was made a Fellow of New Zealand Winegrowers in 2015, the first female winemaker to receive the award.

Olly Masters, Panel Leader

Olly Masters is currently a winemaker at Misha’s Vineyard in Central Otago, as well as running his own winery/vineyard consulting business Tripwire Consulting. Olly has earned a reputation as being one of New Zealand’s most prominent winemakers and wine judges, consistently forging some of New Zealand’s finest Pinot Noirs. With over 28 years of experience in the industry, Olly has chaired the Romeo Bragato Wine Awards and is a senior wine judge at many wine competitions in New Zealand and overseas. He is based in Martinborough, where he organically farms two acres of Pinot and Syrah grapes.

Sam Kim, Panel Leader

Auckland-based Sam Kim has been involved in the New Zealand hospitality and wine industry for over 30 years, during which he has accumulated 21 years of experience judging for various national and global wine competitions and magazines. Sam has judged at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, New Zealand International Wine Show, the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards, Decanter Asia Wine Awards, the New Zealand Aromatic Wine Competition, Spiegelau International Wine Competition, Marlborough Wine Show and Cuisine magazine. He regularly writes for numerous trade magazines and publishes his own web-based wine magazine wineorbit.co.nz, which reviews New Zealand and international wines.

Simon Nunns, Panel Leader

Simon Nunns has been the head winemaker at Coopers Creek Vineyard in Auckland since 1998. He has been a senior judge in all major New Zealand wine shows and is a highly sought-after educator and speaker, featuring regularly in Cuisine and Winestate magazines as a judging panellist. While completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology from Lincoln University, he was awarded the inaugural Jason Winter Memorial Prize for academic achievement. He has worked vintages in both the United States and France, in the regions of Oregon, Bordeaux and Burgundy. Simon’s passion is for alternative grape varietals.

Barry Riwai

Barry Riwai is a winemaker at Alpha Domus in Hastings and has worked in Hawke's Bay for over 20 years. He has extensive experience overseas working for both large and boutique producers in the Rhône, Loire and Bordeaux regions. Barry has judged at New Zealand and Australian wine shows for many years and has judged at the New World Wine Awards for the last five years. Barry shares his affinity for wine with his wife who is also a passionate winemaker – they live in Napier with their three children.

Jane Boyle

Jane Boyle has worked in the New Zealand and Australian wine industries for over 30 years. As a highly sought-after wine judge and consultant, Jane tastes thousands of wines each year. With extensive experience in most facets of the wine industry, Jane’s expertise has seen her judge at numerous international and national wine competitions, including the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, Romeo Bragato Wine Awards, New Zealand International Wine Show and the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards. She is also a regular wine judging panellist for Dish magazine.

Jane Cooper

Jane Cooper is an experienced winemaker with 25 years of international experience and her own wine label, Alexia. Winemaking has allowed Jane to travel across the globe to Chile, the Hunter Valley, Italy and extensively throughout New Zealand. She has worked at Matahiwi Estate in the Wairarapa as the General Manager and Chief Winemaker, and currently consults at Ohau Wines on the Kapiti Coast. Jane has previously judged at both the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards and the Air New Zealand Wine Awards. This is her third year as a judge for the New World Wine Awards.

Jen Parr

An Oregon native and graduate of Stanford University, Jen has called Wanaka home since 2008.  She has extensive international winemaking experience including in the USA, France, South Africa and Australia in addition to 16 harvests in New Zealand.  Jen has been a Winemaker in Central Otago since 2007 and assumed her current role as winemaker for Valli Vineyards in 2015. Jen passed the WSET Level 3 with distinction and regularly judges New Zealand wine shows. 

Kyle Thompson

After studying food science, Kyle began his working life in the dairy industry in microbiology and sensory evaluation. Kyle has always been passionate about wine, but his interest in the wine industry began in earnest while living overseas. After vintages in Bordeaux and Tuscany, and further winemaking study, he returned to his native New Zealand and joined Saint Clair at the beginning of 2006 – just as the new winery was being built. A lover of all things wine, he has a particular affinity for judging right here in his homeland as it puts his expertise to the test and allows for a good look at the quality and diverse range of New Zealand wines first-hand.

Nadine Cross

Winemaker at Peregrine since 2010, Nadine brings experience from France, California and Marlborough to the unique climate of Central Otago. Lured into winemaking by the combination of environment, travel, food and wine, it's a job she loves doing every day in one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. For Nadine, winemaking is about learning: being observant and quality-focused in order to let the land and environment speak through the wine, while helping lead a top-flight wine-making team.

Dr Rebecca Deed

Dr Rebecca Deed’s scientific background in wine research and her aptitude for tasting led to her becoming a judge for the New World Wine Awards. Rebecca graduated from the University of Auckland with a PhD in Biological Sciences, specialising in the effects of low temperature fermentation on wine yeast and wine aroma. This year she was appointed Lecturer in Wine Science at the University of Auckland. Rebecca has also been a senior judge at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards and for Winestate Magazine.

Vanessa Robson

Vanessa is a winemaker for Maude Wines in Wanaka, Central Otago. She hails from Adelaide, where she completed an Honours Degree in Oenology, graduating dux of her year. After four years of winemaking in Australia, with a strong focus and love of Clare Valley Riesling combined with Northern Hemisphere vintages from America, Italy and Germany, she arrived in New Zealand in 2013. She feels fortunate enough to be able to combine her love for making cool climate aromatics and Pinot Noir, with her enjoyment of the outdoors and all things Wanaka life has to offer.

Wendy Stuckey

Wendy is an internationally acclaimed winemaker whose career has spanned work in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. In addition to the accolades received for her wines, she has been recognised as one of the Top 20 Most Admired People in the North American Wine Industry and Intowine.com’s Top 100 Most Influential US Winemakers. Wendy joined Constellation Brands New Zealand in 2015 following seven years at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington and 18 years in the Barossa Valley region of Australia. Originally from South Australia, this wine connoisseur has extensive experience as a judge in wine competitions worldwide and is excited to participate in this year’s New World Wine Awards. 

Shona White, Chief Steward

Shona White is highly regarded for her ongoing contribution to the wine and hospitality industries. She has performed the vital role of Chief Steward at the New World Wine Awards for 12 years. She has spent 30 years as a steward, assistant chief steward, chief steward and competition director of many of New Zealand’s most prominent wine shows, including the Air New Zealand Wine Awards. Shona holds a Diploma in Wine Marketing from Adelaide University and a Graduate Diploma in Business (Human Resources) from University of Auckland.

Associate Judges

New World offers the opportunity for Liquor Managers and store owners with an interest and passion for wine to become Associate Judges and evaluate the wines alongside the professional judges. Jim Harré and Sam Kim trained the eight Associate Judges, all Liquor Managers selected from New World stores, who undertook special training for the event.

It's an incredible experience to spend three days in the company of some of the world's best-known winemakers, judging, discussing and analysing the wines in the competition. The Associates provide a score and opinion on each wine, but their scores don’t count towards the final mark. This incredibly valuable experience helps them make recommendations and answer your questions about wine.

The New World Wine Awards 2018 Associate Judges were:

• Calum Jamieson – New World Hillcrest
• Heidi Brittenden – New World Te Kuiti
• Jarrod Mackereth – New World Rototuna
• Julian Simpson – New World Glenview
• Kris Goodwin – New World Porirua
• Myles McMillan – New World Halswell
• Raj Jamwal – New World Gardens
• Terry Pattison – New World Kaikohe

The Back Room

All wine shows in New Zealand and overseas have two parts to them – the front and the back. The front is the judging room and has judges who come from a variety of fields from winemakers, wine retailers, wine consultants and wine writers. The back room is covered by stewards.  see more

Wine competitions and what the medals mean

Wine has always been on show - an agricultural product that has always stood alongside other products like meat and vegetables on display in village fetes and market days, probably since Roman times.  see more

Award Winning Beers and Ciders
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