Wine Competition

Grasshopper Rock’s thoughts on wine competitions. ​

The first wine competition we entered was the New Zealand Winegrowers’ Bragato Wine Awards 2007. Since then we have selectively entered other reputable NZ and international wine competitions.

Has it been worthwhile and what do we think about wine competitions now that our wine have been subjected to the subjective views of a panel of “judges”?

Yes, it has been an essential part of getting Grassopper Rock known to wine consumers and wine retailers. Wine awards help retailers sell wine and when people drink our wine our reputation as a premium pinot noir producer grows.

Wine competitions provide a means of measuring the relative merits of wines in a specific class. We are interested in how our wine is perceived along side other Central Otago Pinot Noir, and New Zealand Pinot Noir and international Pinot Noir. Not because we want to design a wine for a particular market, but because it helps understand our site and how this compares to other great sites.

Many competitions are far from perfect at consistently ranking a class of wines. There are so many variables that cloud peoples taste, from environmental to personal and of course how the wine is on the day and its stage of evolution in the bottle. Pinot Noir seems to be particularly difficult and none more so than the more restrained style of Pinot Noir which Grasshopper Rock produces.

We have learnt that competitions are good when you get a Gold Medal and some competitions such as the Air New Zealand Wine Awards and the International Wine Challenge are extremely influential.

I understand some winemakers do not enter their wine in competitions. It can be frustrating, disappointing and expensive. As a new winegrower we don’t have the luxury of being able to ignore the reputable wine competitions and we would be less known for not participating.

We long for the day when Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir has such a reputation that we don’t need to be subjected to the vagaries of wine competitions.

Our mission has been to consistently produce quality Pinot Noir. This has driven our site selection, vineyard management and winemaking. Wine competitions have been the best public measure that consistent quality is being achieved. The Gold Medals awarded to Grasshopper Rock in its first four vintages gives us great confidence in this vineyard’s potential to produce some of the finest Pinot Noir.

2006 vintage – Silver Medal at Bragato and 92 points in The Wine Advocate (Neal Martin)
2007 vintage – Gold Medals at Bragato, Liquorland and Hong Kong IWSC
2008 vintage – Gold Medals at International Wine Challenge, Sydney Top 100, Air NZ Wine Awards.
2009 vintage – Gold Medals at Sydney Top 100, Hong Kong IWSC

This article buy Jancis Robinson MW is worth a read and concludes: “All the competitions can be criticised for being too generous with its bronze medals and commendations but I know from personal experience is that it truly is an achievement for any wine to satisfy an entire panel of judges that it deserves a gold.” http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/winenews060513

In my short time entering our wine in competitions my conclusion is Grasshopper Rock shows best in wine competitions when judges are very experienced and have plenty of time to taste and the wine shows particularly well when tasted with food.


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