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Waipara wine wins at international show

By Nicole Lawton, reporting for the Northern Outlook

A Waipara winery’s gold medal win in the latest International Wine Competition reinforces North Canterbury’s rise as a wine-making region, experts say.

Family-run winery Waipara Springs has won the gold medal and trophy for best Waipara Chardonnay at the 2014 International Wine Competition in London last week.

It is the winery’s second gold medal in the competition; last year its Premo Pinot Noir also won gold.

Operations manager Andrew Moore, whose father planted the winning chardonnay’s vines, said the win was a great outcome not just for Waipara Springs but the North Canterbury wine-growing region.

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Taste of success: Waipara Springs operations manager Andrew Moore tests the final product. Photo: Nicole Lawton

“Waipara Valley is emerging as the new wine-growing region.”

Moore hoped the success of Waipara vineyards overseas would encourage more Cantabrians to try their local wines.

“We’re right on the doorstep of Canterbury,” he said.  “[But] Christchurch has never really adopted us.

“For example if you go to Wellington, their wine list is full of Martinborough wine. If you go to Hawkes Bay, you can’t really get a wine that’s not from Hawkes Bay. In central Otago, the restaurants are just full of their own wines. Christchurch has never done the same for us out here.”

At 1200ha, Waipara Valley is New Zealand’s fifth largest wine region behind Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and Central Otago. Varieties that tend to grow best there are aromatic Riesling and Pinot Noir.

Andrew Johnston, manager of Christchurch’s central city wine store Vino Fino, said the win reinforced the significance of Waipara and North Canterbury as a winemaking region.

“Marlborough tends to dominate the shows of course just by virtue of the numbers that they have, but Waipara is steadily gaining ground.”

Johnston said the Waipara region had also scooped recent awards for its pinots, which demonstrated the great soils in North Canterbury. “Obviously pinot, riesling, chardonnay are the big three, but Syrah is starting to do well up there.”

Waipara Springs winery’s winning 2012 Premo Chardonnay, which was dubbed rich and complex by competition judges, was made with some of the oldest chardonnay vines in the valley.

Moore said its win was a great boost to the winery’s attempts to make more complex, bolder wines, but meant “we’ll have to work harder at maintaining this standard”.

“We always run on a rule in our winery that our wines should be balanced enough that by the second glass you still want more.”