New Zealand has recently come up with an interesting competition for Riesling. Called the NZ Riesling Challenge, it involved 12 winemakers pre-selected to each make a riesling using grapes picked from the same vineyard at the same time in 2010. The initiative was that of Mud House Wines, which provided the four tonnes of hand-picked grapes to each winemaker. They were encouraged to use whatever method they considered most appropriate, and the winner was Matt Donaldson of the Pegasus Bay winery. He commented, ‘The fruit was in perfect condition but picked a little earlier than we do for our Pegasus Bay Riesling, so we thought we would have a little experimental fun and froze the bunches before gently pressing. This raised the degree Brix from 22 to 25. Fermentation was clean and cool and stopped according to taste to give a luscious classic style.’
The wines were judged by the participating winemakers under the direction of Chairman of Judges, Bob Campbell MW. All of the wines have now been bottled, and 2000 cases containing one bottle of each of the 12 wines made will be available for public purchase through the participating wineries, the Mud House Wine Group, and a dedicated NZ Riesling Challenge website. For more information on the background of Mud House Wine and its director, Neil Charles-Jones, contact Mark Devlin, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the record, second place went to Matt Dicey of Mt Difficulty Wines and third place to Mike Brown from Golden Hills Estates.