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Our intention is to provide an independent, objective, and reliable assessment of New Zealand wines. Our goal is that, based on the integrity of our assessments, consumers of New Zealand wine throughout the world can make informed buying decisions. Furthermore, we wish to provide wine producers and their distribution networks with a rating system they can use with confidence to promote their wines.
To this end, we wish to assure you that neither of our judges rely on WineRater.co.nz as their primary source of income. We do not have a vested interest in churning out high scores to guarantee an income stream. The integrity and accuracy of our ratings is where our intrinsic value lies.
Our entry fee is used solely to remunerate the judges and assistants for their time spent tasting and writing notes and to ensure the commercial viability of this service.
Has more than 30 years' experience working in the retail, merchant, and educational sectors of the wine industry including time as National Wine Manager for New Zealand's largest wine retailer (at the time) and as the first Education Officer for the Institute of Masters of Wine in London. He has managed his own international wine importing company the past 20 years and for 10 years he produced his own range of premium New Zealand wines. He was wine columnist for North & South for 9 years and has been a senior wine judge and panel member for several NZ wine shows and publications. In 1994 he became the youngest ever of 483 people to have passed the Master of Wine Examination since its inception in 1953. Steve has educated consumers and wine trade professionals in NZ, Australia, the UK and Europe. He has visited most of the major wine regions of the world.
Has nearly 3 decades of winemaking experience. She was winemaker at the highly acclaimed Canterbury winery, Pegasus Bay for 20 years. She has also worked for other leading New Zealand wineries, Pyramid Valley and Villa Maria. Lynnette is Master of Ceremonies and Organiser of The Southern Pinot Workshop with which she has been involved for 17 years. Additionally, she has diverse international experience working in vineyards and wineries around the world including: Domaines George Roumier, Nicolas Potel, and Domaine de la Vougeraie in Burgundy; Chehalem Winery in Oregon; Chapel Down in the UK; and vintage experience in places as diverse as Romania, Hungary, and Crimea. Hers is a truly global perspective.
Wines are tasted blind. The identity of the wine, its region of origin and price are not known to the judges at the time of tasting. Only the grape variety (or blend) and vintage are revealed before evaluation.
Wines are tasted according to vintage and specific wine style in order to allow the judges to focus their senses without the unnecessary distraction of switching from one wine style to another and subsequent palate fatigue.
Each wine is evaluated individually but tasted alongside other wines of a similar style to expedite the tasting process without causing the judges palate-fatigue by switching repeatedly from one style to another.
This is not a wine show, where wines are compared to other wines in the tasting, and those wines that stand out from the crowd are scored highest.
We evaluate each wine individually drawing on our decades of tasting experience of both New Zealand and international wines to formulate a score that is holistic rather than compared to the wines tasted on the day.
By tasting wines within style groups, more elegant, delicate, and nuanced wine styles are able to score just as highly as more powerfully structured and intense wine styles.
We evaluate the wines on two main criteria: from the perspective of consumer appeal but also to ensure technically sound winemaking.
Once the judges have finished tasting, their individual scores are recorded and then revealed to the other judge. Where there is a large discrepancy, the judges are given an opportunity to re-taste an individual wine and review their scores. This process provides a safeguard, whereby if a particular virtue or fault has been overlooked by one of the judges, there is an opportunity to re-evaluate. Consensus may be reached or the discrepancy may stand.
The final score of every wine is a straight average of both judges scores. High scores are thereby a reflection of both judges’ consensus that the wine is deserving of the recognition.
All our tastings are conducted using the same glassware for consistency, wines in any single tasting are opened at the same time, soon before tasting, and are served at the same suitable ambient temperature. Our tasting notes carry the date the wines were tasted. Please note the following elements can all effect the taste of wine: development in the bottle, air-time once opened, temperature, glassware, food accompaniments, etc. Hence your taste experience may be different than that of our judges.
But first a caveat - the process of trying to condense the entirety of a wine's myriad qualities into a single score is fraught with difficulties. We acknowledge that our assessment, while focused and undertaken using our considerable professional experience is the result of tasting one example on one day and as such should be taken as a guide rather than an absolute.
We would also encourage our readers to use the scores in conjunction with the description of the wine in our tasting notes. We do not use flowery, evocative, subjective language in our tasting notes. They are to the point, describing only the most distinctive characteristics, style, and structural components of the wine.
We do not believe there is a single, objective international rating system where the myriad of wine styles and many hundreds of different grape varieties grown around the world can be measured against a single yardstick. For example: the intrinsic qualities of a fresh Moscato d’Asti can’t be directly compared with the virtues of a mature vintage Champagne. The complex character and structure of Barolo is distinctive from the appealing fruitiness and soft tannins of Beaujolais. Many international publications are bound to attempt this. Fortunately we do not have to because we focus on the wines of just one country.
We score using the 100 point scoring system, but we evaluate the wines within the context of New Zealand wine styles and their relative merits. We are not for example comparing New Zealand Pinot Noir with Burgundy, Syrah with the Rhone, etc. This is not to say New Zealand wines are intrinsically inferior. But it is common sense that the virtues of a 96/100 Hawke's Bay Chardonnay are different to those of a 96/100 Le Montrachet.
Most publications have their own slightly nuanced scoring. Not all 100 point systems have the same quality brackets. We have our own, and the key to using our system as a guide is to familiarise yourself with our particular quality parameters.
Our scores both reflect how the wine revealed at the time of tasting, combined with any perceived potential for development. Hence a one-year-old Cabernet-Merlot or Syrah may receive a high score, even though it may not be entirely pleasurable to drink at this moment.
NB. We don't publish any results below wine of merit.
The purpose of NZ Wine Rater is to promote and encourage excellence, not to criticise shortcomings.
Aromatic Varieties and Sweet Wine Tasting, entries close on Tuesday 16th March 2021.