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Wither Hills admits error in competition samples

Published:  23 July, 2008

Marlborough wine producer Wither Hills has defended its reputation after a competition judge claimed that one of the wines submitted by the winery was not representative of its usual style.

Cuisine magazine had awarded five stars to the 2006 Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc, but judge Michael Cooper, who is also the editor of the magazine, compared the winning sample with a bottle from a supermarket and noticed a difference. This was later confirmed by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR).

Wither Hills winemaker Brent Marris has written an open letter to New Zealand wine lovers' on his website, in which he writes: Wither Hills has never and will never create small batch blends for the express purpose of entering wine shows.

Wither Hills has become so popular, both domestically and internationally, that each vintage normally consists of several bottlings to satisfy demand. Unfortunately, because of the timing of the initial bottling run from the 2006 vintage, the wine was not of identical composition to the subsequent bottling run and Cuisine has had to withdraw the wine from its review. While I'm incredibly disappointed, I respect the decision.'