University hosts inaugural Upper North Island wine awards

Monday 4 October 2010, 7:38PM
By University of Auckland


The inaugural Upper North Island Wine Challenge awards – for wines from Northland, Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty – were held at The University of Auckland on Saturday evening.

Waiheke-based Miro Vineyard won the Champion of Show award and a Gold Medal for its 2008 Miro, a Bordeaux blend of 52% Cabernet sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 17% Cabernet franc, and 1% Malbec.

Silver Medals were awarded to 10 wines and Bronze Medals to 18 wines, from a total of 65 wines entered in competition. There were 15 award winners from Northland, 14 from Auckland, and one from Waikato.

“The upper North Island makes a unique contribution to the New Zealand wine industry. It is the country’s original winegrowing region and there are now more than 140 wine producers in the area,” says Mr Gerard Logan, Viticulture Tutor from The University of Auckland and an organiser of the competition.

“But despite its historical and current importance, the upper North Island is the only New Zealand wine growing area that has never had its own wine competition. We wanted to address this and to celebrate the quality and achievements of wines produced within our region.

“The goal of the competition is to promote excellence in winemaking for the benefit of winemakers and consumers. We also see it as a significant step towards the upper North Island becoming a more recognised and influential wine region.”

“It's been a great start for an exciting new event on the judging calendar,” said distinguished New Zealand Master of Wine Bob Campbell in his report as Chair of the competition judging panel.

“It's appropriate that the varied wine districts in the Upper North Island should enjoy the status of its own regional wine show. I believe that wine drinkers need reminding that the Upper North Island is home to many highly individual wineries making a range of wine styles that are distinctively different to the wines of our more southerly regions. They deserve to be judged with their peers rather than with wines made in significantly cooler regions.”

The challenge was organised by the Wine Science Programme at The University of Auckland and Northern Winegrowers and was run by highly experienced competition director Shona White. The awards ceremony was hosted by renowned mountaineer, winemaker, and author Mark Inglis.

The competition was run according to the same high standards and with the same judging criteria as major wine competitions around New Zealand, but the challenge also has some important points of difference.

“In addition to a standard sensory evaluation and technical notes, all of the judges agreed to provide detailed feedback to the winemakers. It is a really valuable opportunity for producers to hear directly from a distinguished panel of judges,” says Mr Logan.

Wine science postgraduate students gained valuable experience as stewards and associate judges and were congratulated by the judging panel for their professionalism.

“The competition is also an opportunity for winemakers to network and to build links with the university, which not only trains future winemakers but has a significant wine research programme that works to benefit the New Zealand wine industry,” says Mr Logan.

A long-term objective for the Upper North Island Wine Challenge is for winemakers and researchers to learn to identify sub-regional differences between wines, and to understand the resulting challenges for local winegrowers and winemakers. To this end, the wines and accompanying information submitted in competition will be stored at the university for at least six years, and will be used in future studies of the region and sub-regions.

2008 Miro (Auckland)

2008 Miro (Auckland)

2008 Karikari Estate Calypso Chardonnay (Northland)
2008 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Verdelho (Auckland)
2009 Turanga Creek Viognier (Auckland)
2010 Sailfish Cove Rose (Northland)
2007 Okahu Chambourcin (Northland)
2009 Marsden Estate Chambourcin (Northland)
2007 Okahu Pinotage (Northland)
2008 Hell Hole, Karikari Estate (red blend) (Northland)
2009 Cable Bay Vineyards Reserve Syrah (Auckland)
2009 Marsden Estate Syrah (Northland)

2009 Mahana Ridge Pinot Gris (Auckland)
2009 Waimarie Haupai Pinot Gris (Auckland)
2009 Marsden Estate Pinot Gris (Northland)
2010 Morepork Vineyard Rosemary's Reserve Pinot Gris (Northland)
2009 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Gewurztraminer (Auckland)
2007 Okahu Chardonnay (Northland)
2008 Hinchco Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (Northland)
2008 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay (Auckland)
2009 Villa Maria Single Vineyard Ihumatao Chardonnay (Auckland)
2010 Marsden Estate Rose (Northland)
2010 Mercury Bay Estate Rose (Waikato)
2009 Ake Ake Chambourcin (Northland)
2006 Okahu Syrah (Northland)
2007 Karikari Estate Syrah (Northland)
2008 Karaka Point Vineyard Serendipity Syrah (Auckland)
2008 Contour Estate Reserve Syrah (Auckland)
2008 Miro Syrah (Auckland)
2009 Cable Bay Vineyard Syrah (Auckland)
2009 Mahurangi River Winery Companions Syrah Viognier (Northland)



The competition was for commercial wines wholly made, processed and matured in New Zealand by grape winemakers from grapes where at least 85% of the fruit used was grown in either, Northland, Auckland, Waikato or the Bay of Plenty.

Chairman of judges: Bob Campbell MW.
Panel of judges: Malcom Reeves (Wine Consultant, Senior Lecturer in Oenology Eastern Institute of Technology); Ben Dugdale (Winemaker, Kari Kari Estate); Mark Compton, Winemaker (Soljan's Estate); Martin Pickering (Winemaker, Mudbrick Winery); David Evans-Gander (Winemaker, Passage Rock Winery); Gerard Logan (Viticulture Tutor, The University of Auckland).
The judges were supported by postgraduate wine science students from the university: Michele Lam; Annette Dansey; Glen Mills; Judy Hu.

Criteria were almost identical to those used in major national wine competitions. All entries were judged on a 20 point scale using the standard “double blind” procedure. The points of each panel of three judges were totalled and awards made in respect of all wines in all categories attaining the following points (out of a possible 60):
Gold Medal: 55.5 points and more
Silver Medal: 51 to 55.4 points
Bronze Medal: 46.5 to 50.9 points.

Competition Director and Chief Steward: Shona White.
University of Auckland representatives: Randy Weaver (Director of Wine Science); Jan Robertson and Gerard Logan (Organising Committee).
Industry Representatives: Steve Nobilo (Chair, Northern Winegrowers and Waimarie Wines); Ben Dugdale (Winemaker, Kari Kari Estate); Mark Compton (Winemaker, Soljan's Estate).

The rapid growth and success of the New Zealand wine industry has created demand for highly trained and skilled participants and for locally-focused scientific research of the highest standard. The Wine Science Programme at The University of Auckland caters to these demands. The programme is hosted by the Department of Chemistry but has strong involvement from the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Environment as well as from the Business School. For more information visit: