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New Zealand and France hit International Wine Challenge's top spot

Published:  04 December, 2013

In the first-ever November tasting session of the International Wine Challenge, New Zealand wines - including Sauvignon Blancs and sparkling wines - shone, scooping 14 gold medals.

It was second only to France, which won 15 gold medals. Many went to Champagne houses with the family-run Henriot picking up four gold medals with its non-vintage Brut Souverain and Brut Blanc de Blancs, and its Brut Millésimé and Rosé Millésimé (both 2005).

For the first time in its 30-year history, the competition has changed its judging schedule to host two tastings throughout the year, allowing for the industry's different production and sales.  The first tranche took place at the end of last month, and tranche two will happen in April 2014, as in previous years.

Judges awarded a total of 62 gold medals, 352 silver medals and 647 bronze medals to wines in this tranche.

There is good news for cost-conscious consumers as wines under £11.50 took home four gold and 10 silver medals. Supermarket own-brand wines also performed strongly with Morrisons winning gold with its Signature Alsace Gewurztraminer 2012 at £7.99. Sainsbury's, Asda, and Marks and Spencer all won silver medals for their own-brand wines.

Charles Metcalfe, co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge, said: "By hosting two separate tasting events across the year, we are ensuring that no matter where or when a wine is produced, it will be given the best possible chance for success. For some wines, six months of additional aging in bottle will be the difference between medal bands, and the implications of this could be huge for a winemaker. The quality of wine we saw at this new tranche has been excellent and we're very excited about this new, improved schedule for the International Wine Challenge."

Click here for the full results listing and for analysis of the subject see this week's Harpers magazine, out on Friday December 6.