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Xanadu Scoops Top Award

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Fuseworks Media
Xanadu Scoops Top Award

Australian's Xanadu label scooped the top award at the gala awards dinner for the 2010 International Chardonnay Challenge in Gisborne tonight (Friday).

The Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2009 was crowned champion of show ahead of one of the strongest fields the challenge has seen in its 10 years. Australia's Mistletoe Reserve Chardonnay 2009 was reserve of show. The Xanadu also collected the trophies for top international chardonnay and top oaked chardonnay.

Of the 400 entries, 18 were awarded gold medals.

The 10th anniversary celebrations have been a star-studded affair with all that is good about chardonnay toasted.

For Xanadu, owned by the Rathbone Wine Group, the Western Australia Margaret River winery win was its most significant to date, and group wine maker Darren Rathbone was ecstatic.

Chairperson of judges Jane Skilton described the wine as a real standout among the hundreds her panels scrutinised.

"It is one that is seamless, with truly beautiful integrated oak, delicious and subtle."

But it was hardly surprising. Mr Rathbone says the selection process for their top wine is stringent from start to finish. The hand-picked Gingin clone fruit comes from some of Xanadu's oldest vines. "Only the best goes in."

The reserve was bottled in January, sells for around $AUD80 a bottle and will be available in New Zealand when it is released later in the year.

And while it may be Australian owned, there was most definitely a Kiwi connection, with Xanadu's chief wine maker Glenn Goodall coming from this side of the Tasman.

Xanadu is one of a number of wineries owned by the Rathbone Group, which includes Yering Station, Mount Langi Ghiran and Parker Coonawarra Estate Wines. It is a 50,000 case winery, with the reserve producing around 300 cases that vintage. Being small means they only enter what they consider to be significant shows.

Mr Rathbone paid tribute to the team, which also included chief viticulturist Seton Linkar.

"This is just enormous - to be champion of show at this, an international, and one renown around the world, is just fantastic. As a team we saw the wine was good, so we're glad to have that confirmed."

Xanadu also featured in the best label design category, winning it with their 2008 Chardonnay.

Chairperson of judges Ms Skilton said the calibre of both judges and wines, underlined the class of the show.

"When you have judges from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and tally up the gold medals those judges have won among them, you've got some of the best in the business, and reflects their ability to judge to true world class standards," she said.

With such experience, she said while she may have been chairperson, it was more just like "shepherding along".

The wines had been "the cream of the crop" from Australia and New Zealand.

"These were premium wines we were judging."

Competition director Prue Younger said the challenging times had led to wineries entering their best rather than huge numbers from across the board, with around 40% of entries having come from offshore.

"That shows that in its 10th year, the challenge seems to have really met the market."

In all, 18 gold medals were awarded - four of those to New Zealand wines - 44 silver medals and 148 bronze medals.

Wines of Gisborne marketing director Simon Gardiner said it was brilliant to have an event of such high standard hosted in Gisborne.

"This is a fantastic event for Gisborne and New Zealand," he said. "The calibre of judges, who come in from around the world, is testament to the strength of the event and the strength of chardonnay as a variety on the world stage."

Trophies -

Champion Wine of the Show: Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2009

Reserve Wine of the Show: Mistletoe Reserve Chardonnay 2009

Top International Chardonnay: Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2009

Top Regional Chardonnay North Island: Waimata Wines Cognoscenti Chardonnay 2009

Top Regional Chardonnay South Island: Mount Riley Seventeen Valley Chardonnay 2009

Highest awarded wine company: Fosters Group

Best value wine under $15: Mount Olympus W5 Marlborough Chardonnay 2008

Recommended top six selection:

Goldridge Estate Premium Reserve Chardonnay 2009

Pernod Ricard Church Road Hawke's Bay Chardonnay 2009

Penfolds Thomas Hyland Chardonnay 2008

Saint Clair Marlborough Unoaked Chardonnay 2009

Clearview Estate Unwooded Chardonnay 2009

Cumulus Wines Rolling Unoaked Chardonnay 2009

Bill Irwin Trophy: Waimata Wines Cognoscenti Chardonnay 2009

Best Label Design: Xanadu Chardonnay 2008

Certificates:

Top Methode Traditionelle Chardonnay: Wither Hills Vineyard Daniel Le Brun Blanc De Blancs 2002

Top Oaked Chardonnay: Xanadu Reserve Chardonnay 2009

Top Unoaked Chardonnay: Saint Clair Marlborough Unoaked Chardonnay 2009

Top Dessert Chardonnay: Te Awa Noble Chardonnay 2009

Top Freestyle Chardonnay: Hihi CV Chardonnay Viognier 2009

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