Pinot noir dominates New Zealand test

Pinot noir was the star of this year's prestigious 12th annual Romeo Bragato Wine Awards in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Grape grower John Rutherford of Marlborough produced the winning Rutherford Pinot Noir 2004 that earned the Bragato Tropy, as well as the Mike Wolter Memorial Trophy for champion Pinot Noir.

Geoff Jensen of Omaka Springs Estates, Marlborough, took second for his Falveys Sauvignon Blanc 2006, earning the Richard Smart Trophy for Reserve Champion Wine.

Grape growers from Marlborough and the Hawke's Bay received all eight trophies and 11 champion awards.

"The Romeo Bragato Wine Awards is a special competition because it recognizes the viticultural excellence of grape growers and individual vineyards," said Philip Gregan, chief executive of New Zealand Winegrowers. "The quality of entries received were in sync with any top winemaking industry and there were some standout wines reflecting the level of innovation and expertise New Zealand has reached in grape growing and wine making."

Judges awarded 476 medals -- 53 golds, 141 silvers and 282 bronze. Entries were up 20 per cent from last year, with 667 wines received for judging.

The major awards:

• Champion of Show -- Rutherford Pinot Noir 2004, John Rutherford,
Rutherford Vineyard, Marlborough.

• Reserve Champion Wine -- Falveys Sauvignon Blanc 200http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.bold.gif6, Geoff Jensen, Omaka Springs Estates, Marlborough.

• Champion Chardonnay --
Summerhouse Marlborough Chardonnay 2005, Meric and Heather Davies, Summerhouse Vineyard, Marlborough.

• Champion Sauvignon Blanc -- Falveys Sauvignon Blanc 2006, Geoff Jensen, Omaka Springs Estates, Marlborough.

• Champion Riesling -- Charles Wiffen Riesling 2004, Charles Wiffen, Charles Wiffen Wines, Cheviot, Marlborough.

• Champion Red Wine -- Cornerstone Cabernet Merlot Malbec 2002, Robert Newton, Cornerstone Vineyard, Hawke's Bay.

• Champion Pinot Noir -- Rutherford Pinot Noir 2004, John Rutherford, Rutherford Vineyard, Marlborough.

• Champion Syrah -- Bridge Pa Louis Syrah 2004, Lisa Daysh, Bridge Pa Vineyard, Hawke's Bay.

• Champion Gewurztraminer -- Te Whare Ra Gewurztraminer 2005, Jason Flowerday, Te Whare Ra Vineyard, Marlborough.

• Champion Dessert Wine --
Villa Maria Reserve Noble Botrytis Riesling 2004, Colin and Chris Fletcher, Fletcher Vineyard, Marlborough.

• Champion Amateur Wine --
The Winery IV 2004, Chris and Sally Brownlie, Saltaire Growers, Hawke's Bay.

Click here for the complete list of medal winners. And, look here for New Zealand wineries by region.

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S. African shiraz test won by Saxenberg

Saxenberg, a South African winery using 100% own-grown fruit from its Kuils River farm near Stellenbosch, took top honors in the 2006 Wine magazine TOPS at SPAR Shiraz Challenge.

TOPS at SPAR is the leading chain of liquor and wine stores in South Africa.

The challenge drew a record 215 entries, with Saxenburg’s Private Collection 2003 taking top honors just ahead of the 2004 Koelfontein Shiraz. Each was rated 4.5 stars.

Seven others achieved 4-star status:

• Avondale Syrah 2003
• Bon Cap Syrah 2004
• Cloof The Very Sexy Shiraz 2004
• Fairview Solitude Shiraz 2003
• Groote Post Shiraz 2003
• Marianne Shiraz 2004
• Raka Biography Shiraz 2004

The winning entry came from winemaker Nico van der Merwe, the cellarmaster at Saxenburg for the past 16 years.

Judges' tasting notes for the 4.5 and 4.0 star wines:

Saxenberg Shiraz 2003
Cellar Price: $14+ (US)

"Complex nose with clean, ripe fruit balanced by pepper and spice. Palate is medium bodied with black fruit matched by firm but elegant tannins. Oak is very well managed. Long finish."

Koelfontein Shiraz 2004
Cellar Price: $8+ (US)

"Nose shows very ripe black fruit and some peppery herbaceous notes. Palate is full bodied and dense. Lots of dark fruit and firm tannins, but well integrated. Well balanced. Long finish."

Bon Cap Syrah 2004
Cellar Price: $7+ (US)

"Plenty of pepper and spice to go with abundant red fruit on the nose. Palate is medium bodied and elegant. Oak noticeable for some but should intergrate in time. Long dry finish."

Groote Post Shiraz 2003
Cellar Price: $9+ (US)

Nose is very forthcoming and shows dark fruit, some fragrant notes, spice and oak char. Palate is full bodied, intense and complex. Juicy, ripe fruit matched by elegant tannins.

Cloof The Very Sexy Shiraz 2004
Cellar Price: $9+ (US)

Dark fruit and pepper on the nose. Ripe on the palate with soft tannins. Accessible.

Avondale Syrah 2003
Cellar Price: $10+ (US)

Nose shows berry fruit and some herbaceous notes. Appealing texture in the mouth - soft and round.

Raka Biography Shiraz 2004
Cellar Price: $11+ (US)

"Forward nose showing ripe dark fruit, some perfumed notes and pepper. Palate is rich and layered. Good balance between sweet ripe fruit and oak. Long finish."

Marianne Shiraz 2004
Cellar Price: $19+ (US)

"Ripe berry fruit as well as spice and pepper on the nose. Oak quite prominent at this stage but also shows dense fruit, which suggests this wine will benefit from time in bottle."

Fairview Solitude Shiraz 2003
Cellar Price: $20+ (US)

"Nose shows red fruit, pepper and light oak notes. Palate shows concentrated fruit offset by soft, pleasing tannins and refreshing acid."

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Kentucky eases wine shipping rules

Kentucky's criminal statute against out-of-state wineries shipping wine into Kentucky has been ruled unenforceable by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Simpson in Louisville.

The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Huber's Orchard & Winery (its logo is seen here) in southern Indiana, which claimed Kentucky’s law violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by giving preference to Kentucky businesses over out-of-state merchants.

Now, and until a new law goes into effect in January, Kentucky cannot enforce the criminal statute against out-of-state wineries shipping into Kentucky.

Dan Meyer, executive director of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Kentucky, said the ruling needs to be studied to see how it may impact the new law.

“This is round one,” he said. “We’ll see where to go from here.”

The state General Assembly passed a law earlier this year requiring Kentucky wineries to sell their goods through wholesalers, the same as producers of beer or spirits.

Simpson also struck down current provisions requiring consumers who want wine shipped to order it in person. That could allow orders of out-of-state wine by telephone, mail or Internet. He said requiring customers to order in person gives too much advantage to Kentucky wineries, thus violating interstate commerce protections.

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Virginia's best not fully decided

A dozen judges tested 139 wines from 32 wineries and vineyards across the state Monday during the State Fair of Virginia's 15th annual Wine Competition.

The best-in-show, however, won't be known to the public until it is announced at the 3rd annual Black Tie & Boots gala fundraiser for the State Fair's scholarship program on Sept. 27.

Meanwhile, the curious will have to be content to know who won the major category gold medals. Afton Mountain Vineyards, Delfosse Vineyards & Winery, Ingleside Plantation Vineyards, Rappahannock Cellars and Stone Mountain Vineyards took two golds each. The gold medalists:

• Afton Mountain Vineyards, Estate Bottled Chardonnay, 2004
• Afton Mountain Vineyards, Gewurztraminer, 2005
• Chateau Morrisette, Cabernet Franc, 2003
• Cooper Vineyards, Norton, 2004
• Delfosse Vineyards & Winery, Cabernet Franc, 2005
• Delfosse Vineyards & Winery, Chardonnay, 2005
• Horton Vineyards, The Tower Series Cabernet Franc, 2002
• Ingleside Plantation Vineyards, Ingleside Merlot Reserve, 2002
• Ingleside Plantation Vineyards, Ingleside Virginia Gold, 2002
• Lake Anna, Barrel Select Chardonnay, 2005
• Oakencroft Vineyard & Winery, Oakencroft Merlot Reserve Monticello, 2004
• Prince Michel Vineyards, Prince Michel Cabernet Franc, NV
• Rappahannock Cellars, Cabernet Franc Reserve, 2004
• Rappahannock Cellars, Meritage Reserve, 2004
• Shenandoah Vineyards, Founder Reserve Chambourchin, Lot 03 NV
• Stone Mountain Vineyards, Chardonnay Reserve, 2005
• Stone Mountain Vineyards, Merlot, 2005
• Tarara Winery, Tarara Winery Merlot, 2004
• Waterford Vineyards, Barrel Select Chardonnay, 2005
• Woodland Vineyard, Woodland Vineyard Chardonnay Barrel Select Virginia, 2005

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Cease-fire helping Israeli grape harvest

In the whole scheme of precarious life in the Middle East, making wine seems like incidental stuff.

However, winemaking is part of Israel's economy and the current cessation in hostilities with Lebanon-based Hezbollah is good news for people involvbed in that enterprise.

The cease-fire is allowing Israelis to harvest an especially promising grape crop that could prove to be the nation's best ever. Numerous soldiers just back from combat can be seen helping with the harvest.

"At the last minute," Noam Jacoby told an Associated Press reporter. He is the manager of the Recanati Winery, whose vineyards on the Lebanese border were declared a closed military zone during the war. Besides a few rows of vines that were plowed by tanks, Jacoby said, "it's not too bad."

Grape harvesting began this week in northern Israel, the richest grape-growing region. The weather has been perfect this season, but 34 days of fighting threatened the ability to take advantage of it.

"Treatments that had to be done were missed," Ronit Badler of the Galil Mountain Winery told the AP. "The wine, the grapes look good, but we'll have to see what happens."

Israeli wines have progressed in recent years beyond the stereotypical thick, sweet vintages and have been getting encouraging reviews from wine critics. The northern part of Israel is ideally suited to wine-grape cultivation because of its volcanic soil and its relatively cool climate with low temperature differentials between day and night.

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2 icons lead the winners in NY Wine Classic

Photo by William M. Dowd

CANANDAIGUA, NY -- Two iconic Finger Lakes wineries came out on top of a record field in the 21st annual New York Wine & Food Classic judging this week.

A 2005 Dry Riesling from Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards won the Governor’s Cup award, emblematic of the best of show. Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars was rated Winery of the Year for the highest point total in the judging.

The event, held at the Inn on the Lake here at Canandaigua Lake in the western Finger Lakes near Rochester, drew 703 entries from New York-only vineyards in the official regions of Long Island, the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes, the Niagara Escarpment, Lake Erie, and other regions of New York State.

I was among 24 judges from across the nation and England, with a heavy contingent from California. Judges included prominent wine writers, restaurateurs, retailers, and wine educators. Four-judge panels determined the initial awards in blind tastings, with top-scoring wines evaluated by all 24 of us for Best of Category and Governor’s Cup awards on the second day, also in a blind tasting.

The awards were announced at the Governor’s Cup Celebration luncheon at the New York Wine & Culinary Center (seen above) that was formally opened in June. The restaurant prepared a special multi-course luncheon using all New York ingredients and paired with award-winning wines from the 2005 competition, which was also held at the Inn on the Lake.

The Classic, organized by the indefatigable Teresa Knapp of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation headed by the equally indefatigable Jim Trezise, was open to all 239 New York wineries. This year 30 double gold (unanimous vote by the panel), 53 gold, 200 silver, and 249 bronze medals were awarded.

The best-of-category awards:

Best White -- Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards, 2005 Dry Riesling.
Best Sparkling -- Chateau Frank, 2000 Blanc de Noirs.
Best Rose/Blush -- Chateau Lafayette Reneau, Emperor’s Blush.
Best Red -- Jamesport Vineyards, 2004 Cabernet Franc.
Best Specialty Wine -- Baldwin Vineyards, Strawberry Wine.
Best Dessert Wine -- Wolffer Estate Vineyards, 2005 Late Harvest Chardonnay.

The best-of-class awards:

Best Vinifera Sparkling Wine --
Chateau Frank, 2000 Blanc de Noirs.
Best Chardonnay -- Bedell Cellars/Corey Creek Vineyards, 2005 Reserve Chardonnay.
Best Dry Riesling -- Hermann J. Wiemer, 2005 Dry Riesling.
Best Semi-Dry Riesling -- Mazza Chautauqua Cellars, 2005 Riesling.
Best Semi-Sweet Riesling -- Chateau Lafayette Reneau, 2005 Johannisberg Riesling.
Best Gewurztraminer -- (tie) Bedell Cellars/Corey Creek Vineyards, 2005 Gewurztraminer, and Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars, 2005 Gewurztraminer.
Best Cayuga White -- Swedish Hill Vineyards, 2005 Cayuga White.
Best Other White Hybrid -- Atwater Estate Vineyards, 2005 Vidal Blanc.
Best Other Native Varietal -- Thirsty Owl Wine Co., 2005 Diamond.
Best White French American Hybrid -- Red Newt Cellars, Red Newt White.
Best Niagara -- Red Newt Cellars, Blue Newt White.
Best Native White Blend -- Lucas Vineyards, Miss Behavin’.
Best Blush -- Chateau Lafayette Reneau, Emperor’s Blush.
Best Cabernet Franc -- Jamesport Vineyards, 2004 Cabernet Franc.
Best Merlot -- Peconic Bay Winery, 2001 Merlot.
Best Cabernet Sauvignon -- Chateau Lafayette Reneau, 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Best Pinot Noir -- Chateau Lafayette Reneau, 2002 Pinot Noir.
Best Other Red Vinifera -- Keuka Spring Vineyards, 2005 Lemberger.
Best French American Hybrid Red Blend -- Lucas Vineyards, 2005 Tug Boat Red.
Best Mead -- Torrey Ridge Winery, Scarlet Red.
Best Fruit Wine -- Baldwin Vineyards, Strawberry Wine.
Best Late Harvest -- Wolffer Estate Vineyards, 2005 Late Harvest Chardonnay.
Best Ice/Iced Wine -- Lakewood Vineyards, 2005 Borealis.

Six wines were disqualified from the second-day judging because they did not meet the minimum of 100 cases available.

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Judges pick the best of Missouri

Six in-state wineries earned "Best of the Bunch Honors" in the 2006 Missouri Wine Competition.

The competition, sponsored by the Missouri Wine & Grape Board, drew 207 wines from 24 Missouri wineries.

Best of Class awards in nine categories went to these wines:

• Best Sparkling wine - Stone Hill Winery 2002 Blanc de Blancs
• Best Dry White wine - Montelle Winery 2005 Seyval Blanc
• Best Dry Red wine - Tower Rock Winery 2004 Cynthiana
• Best Semi-Dry White wine - Augusta Winery 2004 Vignoles
• Best Semi-Dry Red wine - Augusta Winery Reserve Red
• Best Sweet White wine - Stone Hill Winery 2005 Vignoles
• Best Sweet Red wine - Augusta Winery River Valley Red
• Best Dessert/Ice wine - St. James Winery 2004 Late Harvest Vignoles
• Best Dessert/Fortified wine - Mount Pleasant Winery 2002 Vintage Port

The Governor's Cup, the ultimate award for a Missouri winery, will be awarded to one of the Best of Class winners on Sept. 28 at the opening of the "Missouri Wine: History Uncorked" exhibit at the Mercantile Library in St. Louis. Details on the event: (800) 392-9463.

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Vino in need of veritas?

Consider this statement:

" ... (O)ver the last 20 years or so, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has gotten pretty casual about enforcing the letter of the law. These days the biggest selling 'wine' in Washington state is the 5-liter boxed product bearing the Franzia label. Retailing for about $8 a box, it bears the description 'table wine with natural flavors.'

"Discard the 'table' and 'natural,' which have no legal meaning at all, and you're left with 'wine with flavors.' Look back up at the definition and you'll see that under Washington state law, Franzia boxes aren't 'wine.' And if they're not wine pure and simple, the law goes on to require that the label must bear 'a truthful and adequate statement of composition.' And even then, such products can be called only 'specialty wine,' if not 'artificial wine' or 'imitation wine."

That's the position taken by writer Roger Downey in a Seattle Weekly commentary.

Agree or disagree, it's quite an interesting topic, particularly with Washington's status as a giant among American wine producing regions.


International Wine & Spirits results are in

Photo by William M. Dowd

The results are in for the International Wine and Spirit Competition, held in London each year.

Here are the best-in-class gold medal winners in the wine competition. For winners in the spirits competition, go to Dowd's Spirits Notebook for a complete rundown.


• Amarone della Valpolicella DOC, Veneto, 2000
Amarone Classico Della Valpolicella DOC Monteci, 2000

• Amarone della Valpolicella DOC, Veneto, 2001
Il Bosco Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC, 2001

• Amarone della Valpolicella DOC, Veneto, 2003
Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC Classico, 2003

• Barolo DOCG - Piedmonte - 2001
Marengo Vini Barolo Fontanazza, 2001

• Beaujolais Village AC
Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages, 2005

• Blaufrankisch - Burgenland
Weingut Giefing 2003 Blaufrankisch Reserve

• Blended Red Wine - Barbera Dominated - Isola Dei Nuraghi IGT
Cantina Sociale di Dolianova "Terresicci" Red IGT Isola Dei Nuragai, 2003

• Blended Red Wine - Brazil
Aurora Cellars Proprietary Red, 2004

• Blended Red Wine - Cabernet Franc Dominated - Stellenbosch
Dornier Donatus Red, 2003

• Blended Red Wine - Cabernet Sauvignon Dominated - Chile - 2001
Carmen Winemaker's Reserve Red, 2001

• Blended Red Wine - Cabernet Sauvignon Dominated - Stellenbosch - 2001
Meerlust Rubicon, 2001

• Blended Red Wine - Cabernet Sauvignon Dominated - Stellenbosch – 2003
Vergelegen Estate Red - 2003

Lanzerac Classic, 2002
• Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine - Traditional Blends - England

Denbies Greenfields, 2003

• Cabernet Sauvignon - Coonawarra - 2001
Parker Terra Rossa First Growth, 2001

• Cabernet Sauvignon - Maipo Valley - 2004
Valdivieso Cabernet Sauvignon Vineya, 2004

• Cabernet Sauvignon - Mendoza - 2003
Trapiche Medalla, 2003

• Cabernet Sauvignon - Rapel Valley
Vina Misiones de Rengo SA Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004

• Cabernet Sauvignon Blend - Napa
Oakville Ranch Robert's Blend, 2001

• Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot - McLaren Vale
Geoff Merrill Pimpala Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, 2000

• Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot - Stellenbosch
Zonnebloem Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Laureat, 2004

• Carmenère - Colchagua Valley - 2004
Arboleda Carmenère, 2004

• Chianti Classico DOCG - 2003
Brolio Chianti Classico (Ricasoli), 2003

• DOCa - Rioja - Crianza - Red Blends - 2001
Domecq Bodegas Azpilicueto Reserva, 2001

• DOCa - Rioja - Crianza - Red Blends - 2003
United Wineries Bodegas Langunilla Crianza, 2003

• DOCa - Rioja - Crianza - Tempranillo
Viña Diezmo Crianza, 2002

• Douro DOC - 2003
Escada d'Oro Reserve, 2003
Chateau La Tour Carnet, 2003


• Alsace Grand Cru AC, Riesling
Cave de Turckheim Riesling Grand Cru Brand, 2002

• Beaujolais Village AC
Sainsbury's White Burgundy, Rodet, 2004

• Beerenauslese - Austria
Lenz Moser Prestige Beerenauslese, 2004

• Botrytis Affected Wine - Sémillon - Australia
De Bortoli Noble One, 2004

• Botrytis Affected Wine - Western Cape
Nederburg Noble Late Harvest, 2005

• Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine - Australia - NV
Arras Bottle Fermented, 2000

• Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine - Traditional Blends – England
Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, 1998

• Brunello di Montalcino DOCG - Tuscany
Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Greppone Mazzi, 2000

• Cabernet Sauvignon - Coonawarra - 2003
Nugan Estate Alcira Vineyard Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003

• Cabernet Sauvignon - Stellenbosch - 2003
Saxenburg Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003

• Chablis Grand Cru AC
Laroche Chablis Grand Cru Reserve de L'Obédience, 2003

• Champagne - Prestige Cuvée - 1983 - Blanc de Blancs
Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires, 1983
De Venoge Grand Vin Des Princes, 1993

• Champagne - Prestige Cuvée - 1985 - Chardonnay/Pinot Noir
Charles Heidsieck Champagne Charlie, 1985
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame, 1995

• Champagne - Prestige Cuvée - 1998 - Blends
Champagne Bourgeois Cuvée du Dernier Siécle, 1998

• Champagne - Prestige Cuvée - 1999 - Chardonnay/Pinot Noir
Champagne Jacquart Cuvée Allegra Vintag, 1999

• Champagne - Prestige Cuvée - Non Vintage - Chardonnay/Pinot Noir
Charles Heidsieck Reserve Charlie Mis en Cave en, 1990

• Champagne - Vintage - Blanc de Blancs - 1998
Champagne Duval Leroy Blanc de Chardonnay, 1998

• Champagne - Vintage - Chardonnay/Pinot Noir - 1989
Charles Heidsieck Brut Millesime, 1989

• Champagne - Vintage - Chardonnay/Pinot Noir - 1996
Piper Heidsieck Millesime, 1996

• Champagne - Vintage - Chardonnay/Pinot Noir - 1998
Piper Heidsieck Millesime, 1998

• Chardonnay - Casablanca Valley - 2004
Laroche Rio Vino Chardonnay Vina Punto Alto, 2004

• Chardonnay - Casablanca Valley - 2005
Arboleda Chardonnay, 2005

• Chardonnay - Marlborough - 2004
Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Chardonnay, 2004

• Chardonnay - Monterey
Riva Ranch Reserve Chardonnay, 2003

• Chardonnay - Stellenbosch - 2004
Uva Mira Vineyards Selection Chardonnay, 2004

• Chenin Blanc - Botrytis - Regions of South Africa
Nederburg Private Bin Edelkeur Noble Late Harvest, 2004

• Chenin Blanc - Coastal Region
Bellingham The Maverick Chenin Blanc, 2004

• Chenin Blanc - Stellenbosch and Wards
Ken Forrester FM Chenin Blanc 2003 Stellenbosch

• Côtes de Castillon AC
Chateau d'Aiguilhe 2001 Cotes de Castillon

• DO Priorato - Red Blend
Coma Vella, 2003
Priorat Coma Vella, 2003

• Douro DOC - 2004
Sogrape Vinhos SA Casa Ferreirinha Quinta da Leda Vinha do Pombal, 2004

• Gewürztraminer - Israel
Sha'al Gewürztraminer, 2004

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Indy International picks its winners

Nearly 4,000 wines were entered in the 2006 version of the Indiana Commercial
Vintners & Amateur Winemakers' Indy International Wine Competition held this month.

Of the 3,859 entries, 341 received gold medals,, 1,156 silvers and 1,370 bronzes. Wines were judged in Commercial, the sub-category Indiana Commercial, and Amateur categories.

The winningest Indiana winery was the Huber Winery of Borden, IN. The Indiana Winegrowers Guild's state wine champion award went to Larry A. Kreke of Indianapolis for his Liebfraumilch Scolley Winery, Muller-Thurgau 2006. Mahlon Butz of West Lafayette won the Indiana-Grown Amateur champion award.

The American Airlines Trophy for best of show grand champion wine went to Mission Hill Family Estate of Westbank, BC, for the Canadian operation's Five Vineyards Riesling Ice Wine 2004.

Other American Airlines Trophies were presented as follows:

• Red Wine -- Martin Family Vineyards of Healdsburg, CA, for its Martin Petite Sirah 2003.

• White Wine -- Sileni Cellar Selections of New Zealand for its Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006.

• Sparkling Wine -- Champagne Pommery of Reims, France, for its Millesime Grand Cru Champagne 1998.

• Dessert Wine --
Foster’s Wine Estates, Australia, for its Trafford Tawny Port.

• Rose/Blush Wine -- Harlow Ridge Winery of Ceres, CA, for its Blush, Lodi 2005.


• Winningest Winery -- V. Sattui of St. Helena, CA.

• Fruit Wine -- Cooper’s Hawk Winery of Orland Park, IL, for its rhubarb wine.

• Mead -- Meadery of the Rockies, Palisade, CO

The competition coordinator for the event was Ellen Butz. A complete rundown on medal winners in all categories is available here.

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NZ winemaker bucks the trend

Neighboring Australia is letting its grapes rot on the vines and in the fields to combat an oversupply from further depressing prices in its wine industry.

But, in New Zealand some growers are bragging about a bumper harvest.

Marlborough, the industry giant that produces Grove Mill and Sanctuary wines, has reported increased after-tax profits as a result of a good harvest and the dropping value of the New Zealand dollar which helps export business, according to company CEO Rob White (seen here).

"The 2006 harvest is considerably up on the 2005 harvest and we are very comfortable with the quality. A bigger harvest produces better economies because it lowers our cost structure," White said.

The forecast was based on a continued decline in the Kiwi dollar, which had helped export sales. But while export prospects were brighter – the company exports 64 per cent of production with sales strong in the U.S. – prices at home were under pressure.

"It's quite brutal. There's increased competition out of Australia ... . There's a lot more pressure from retailers in terms of price and supplier margins. We are seeing prices squeezed."

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SA's Bilton broadens its scope

The new winemaker at one of South Africa's best wineries is making his mark very quickly.

Rudi de Wet (seen here) has created Bilton Wines' first white, a Bilton Sauvignon Blanc 2006. Bilton has built its reputation on its red wines.

De Wet and consultant Giorgio Dalla Cia didn't follow the usual Sauvignon Blanc style, adding a touch of Sémillon for its brilliant green straw color and tropical fruit notes.

Bilton's vineyards are located high on the slopes of the Helderberg, where the climate encourages slow ripening of the grapes and the development of several varietal flavour.

The new wine is expected to retail domestically at about $6 a bottle, jumping to about $9 or $10 once it is exported to the U.S.