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Winner Of Inaugural NZ Riesling Challenge Announced

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Fuseworks Media
Winner Of Inaugural NZ Riesling Challenge Announced

The winner of the inaugural NZ Riesling Challenge has been announced with top honours going to Matt Donaldson from the Pegasus Bay winery.

The competition, launched by award-winning Mud House wines, saw 12 winemakers selected to handcraft a Riesling using fruit picked from the same vineyard at the same time in 2010.

The wines were then judged by the participating winemakers alongside Chairman of Judges, Bob Campbell, with the winner announced at the Blondie and Pretenders concert at the Mud House winery in Waipara today.

To complete the challenge, each winemaker received four tonnes of grapes hand-picked in April from the Mud House vineyard. Contestants then crushed, pressed and fermented the grapes through their chosen method, in stainless steel or oak, to produce the best Riesling wine, dry or sweet.

Winning winemaker Matt Donaldson says he thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the opportunity to test their winemaking skills as part of the challenge.

"The Riesling challenge is an interesting concept that will be great for promoting the variety...it was a pleasure and a privilege to be involved" he says.

"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," says Donaldson.

All the wines have now been bottled, with one bottle of each of the 12 Rieslings going to create a mixed case of wine, The Riesling Challenge Dozen, which is available for purchase in New Zealand.

Each bottle also features a Riesling Taste Profile on the label, a scale created by the International Riesling Foundation, to help consumers predict the taste in a particular bottle from Dry to Sweet.

Neil Charles-Jones, shareholder and director of the Mud House Wine Group, says the NZ Riesling Challenge is a novel way to spread the Riesling story and highlight the versatility of the Riesling grape.

"We're thrilled to have launched the inaugural year of the NZ Riesling Challenge and it has produced a fantastic selection of standout wines from top winemakers," says Charles-Jones.

"The NZ Riesling Challenge is all about promoting Riesling as a variety, while also promoting the Waipara region and all it has to offer."

Second place went to Matt Dicey, Mt Difficulty and third to winemaker Mike Brown from Golden Hills Estates.

Only 2000 cases will be available for public purchase through participating wineries, the Mud House Wine Group and a dedicated NZ Riesling Challenge website.

For more information visit www.rieslingchallenge.co.nz

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