Hawke's Bay wines have again made a substantial splash at the prestigious annual Air New Zealand Wine Awards which were staged in Auckland on Tuesday night.
The Bay predictably scored well in the red varieties, although also giving the traditionally Marlborough-dominated chardonnay class a shake - picking up three of the nine Pure Gold medals awarded.
All up, the region's wineries came away with 101 medals - 19 gold, 30 silver and 52 bronze.
Marlborough was top of the vine however, with 331 medals - 46 golds, 99 silver and 186 bronze.
Central Otago was third with 93 - 17 gold, 20 silver and 56 bronze.
The Bay's wineries effectively had syrah sewn up, taking five of the six golds awarded, while the only gold in the merlot class also went the Bay's way through Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay Merlot 2010.
The awards were rich pickings for Villa Maria's Bay vineyards with 10 of the golds going their way.
This year's competition, which chairman of judges Michael Brajkovich said had a standard "as high as it has ever been", saw 1367 wines entered in 17 classes.
All up, there were 97 gold medals handed out, 183 silver and 364 bronze.
"Sauvignon blanc is very strong," he said of the variety, which attracted the most golds, with 17.
He added that pinot noir was again a "stand-out" and chardonnay "extraordinary".
"Growers are experimenting more with different styles. While new varieties such as tempranillo, grenache and albarino are small in quantity, the quality is getting better and better."
Mr Brajkovich said New Zealand wines were now clearly up with the very best.
"Something we can be very proud of."
Air New Zealand head of sponsorship and community James Gibson said the company was passionate about the New Zealand wine industry and enjoyed introducing its international passengers to home-grown wines on board its flights.
"This is the 26th year that Air New Zealand has sponsored the wine awards and we continue to be very proud to be associated with the very best our nation's winemakers have to offer."
The elite gold medal and trophy winners will be announced at a special awards dinner on November 24 in Wellington.
HAWKE'S BAY GOLDS
- Vidal Legacy Series Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2010
- Vidal Legacy Series Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2011
- Villa Maria Reserve Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2011
- Osawa Wines Late Harvest Hawke's Bay Gew�rztraminer 2011
- Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay Merlot 2010
- Coopers Creek SV Hawke's Bay Syrah Chalk Ridge 2011
- Villa Maria Private Bin East Coast Pinot Gris 2012
- Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2011
- Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawke's Bay Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2010
- Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay Syrah 2010
- Villa Maria Reserve Hawke's Bay Syrah 2009
- Villa Maria Reserve Gimblett Gravels Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2010
- Esk Valley Winemakers Reserve Merlot Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
- Trinity Hills Gimblett Gravels Tempranillo 2010
- Villa Maria Cellar Selection Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay Grenache 2010
- Villa Maria Single Vineyard Omahu Gravels Viognier 2010
- Vidal Legacy Series Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2009
- Vidal Reserve Gimblett Gravels Hawke's Bay Syrah 2007
- Villa Maria Reserve Hawke's Bay Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2007