By Jake Beleski

jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Wairarapa may only have one gold medal winner at this year’s Air New Zealand Wine Awards, but that is not a reflection of the quality of wine in the area.

Head judge Michael Brajkovich puts the wine through its paces. PHOTO/SUPPLIED.

Head judge Michael Brajkovich puts the wine through its paces. PHOTO/SUPPLIED.

That’s the view of the competition’s main judge, Michael Brajkovich, who said it made sense that Wairarapa would be underrepresented.

“It really depends on who enters and what they enter,” he said.

“Some top producers from Wairarapa don’t enter, which can throw off the statistics.

“Wairarapa accounts for about 1.2 per cent of the total grape tonnage in New Zealand, but has won about 1.1 per cent of the gold medals.

“Marlborough accounts for about 70 per cent grape tonnage and they have around 30 per cent of the gold medals, so it isn’t always a true reflection of the wine being produced in the region.”

Over 1400 wines were judged over three days, and 91 gold medals were awarded to wines from all over the country.

There were also 268 silver medals and 973 bronze medals awarded, bringing the total number of medals awarded across the 17 different classes to 1,332.

Te Kairangi Wines in Martinborough will carry the flag for Wairarapa at the black-tie dinner held in Auckland on November 12, to honour the gold medal winners.

Te Kairangi’s chief winemaker John Kavanagh said although they had won plenty of gold medals over the years, it was still a pleasing acknowledgement of their hard work.

“This one is for our brand new John Martin Chardonnay which is exciting.

“It’s a great accolade for the region as well.”

Mr Brajkovich said pinot noir was the star performer this year, but there were plenty of worthy candidates from other categories.

“Chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, riesling and syrah, and the quality of Hawke’s Bay merlot and cabernet-based wines took a big step up this year, hailing from strong 2013 and 2014 vintages.”

The ‘best of the best’ elite gold and trophy winning wines would be revealed at the dinner in Auckland.

There was no need to be concerned about Wairarapa’s low level of representation, Mr Brajkovich said.

“Wairarapa has runs on the board, especially with pinot noir.

“Their reputation is one of the best in the world, but many people just choose not to exhibit their products.”