The International Wine & Spirit Competition is one of the world’s most prestigious competitions, receiving entries from nearly 90 countries.
No surprise then, that Greg Rowdon and his team are pretty chuffed Matua was awarded 2016’s NZ Wine Producer of the Year in London. Matua has won the title of NZ Wine Producer or Winemaker of the Year at a major competition four years in a row. Greg says. “It has a huge amount of influence globally because it doesn’t just capture one wine. It encompasses how consistent the brand is.”
“The 2017 season is still in its very early stages. We are hopeful we will be able to keep up the consistency that is expected of Marlborough wines, year in, year out.”
And yes, that does mean sauvignon blanc, sauvignon blanc and yet more savvy. “I’ve been in the industry for more than 15 years now and I cannot see it stopping.”
But, while the success of Marlborough’s sauvignon blanc wines has been down to their consistency, that doesn’t mean that the wines you are drinking now are the same as those you were sipping five years ago, or will be sipping in the next five years.
“For quite a while, people have known what to expect from ‘Marlborough sauvignon blanc’. They are now finding there are distinct sub-regions – there are distinct differences in sauvignon blancs from Waiau and Awatere.”
Climate change may have a subtle effect over the long term – “it is a very slow process” – but viticultural practices are more likely to impact on the wine.
“When I first started in the industry, Marlborough sauvignon blanc was green and herbaceous. It tasted of canned peas or green beans and the alcohol was lower, around 12%.
“It’s now 13% or higher due to viticultural practices, producing riper styles that are more tropical and punchy, full-flavoured and aromatic.
“There’s a trend toward sweetness in sauvignon blanc but Matua is quite dry.”
And there’s another trend, one that fits perfectly with Marlborough’s past and present plantings and production.
“Rose is an unstoppable phenomenon. We have been here in the past, but this time it is here to stay. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“Rose is the most consumed wine in the world but it’s fair to say that the southern hemisphere has taken a little while to catch on to it.
“We’re not talking about the rose of old, bright pink and sweet, but a Provencal style, delicate, subtle and dry.”
When you’re choosing a wine for that special occasion, you’re likely guided by the stickers on the bottle telling you that this won a gold medal here or a silver there.
For the professionals, there’s an award they prize far more highly. Founded in 1969, the International Wine & Spirit Competition is widely recognised as the world’s original, most prestigious and most respected competition.
Receiving entries from nearly 90 countries worldwide, there’s a two-stage judging process over six months to ensure it produces the industry’s most credible results.
“This is the award we chase the most,” Greg says. “It has a huge amount of influence globally because it doesn’t just capture one wine. It encompasses how consistent the brand is.
“We entered 12 wines and every one got an award, right through the portfolio.”
So, no pressure then. Where does Matua go from here?
“The 2017 season is still in its very early stages [the fruit will be picked around the time you are reading this]. There has been a relatively mild summer, so we are hopeful that we will be able to keep up the consistency that is expected of Marlborough wines, year in year out.”