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New Zealand versus Devon at English Wine Week

DECANTER MAGAZINE: June 4, 2007 - by Dominic Rippon

The first comparative tasting between English and New Zealand wines took place at the Devon Wine School in the south of England last week, as part of English Wine Week.

Nine judges blind tasted 32 wines in all, 16 from Devon and 16 from New Zealand.

In some categories English wines held their own against the New Zealanders.

Although the Kiwis took most of the medals, Devon's Yearlstone Vineyard Brut 2004 fizz won a bronze, putting it on an equal footing with New Zealand's Montana Sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir NV.

In the Classic White Grapes category, Devon's Manstree Vineyard won a bronze for its Mayval Medium Dry 2005 blend, an identical score to that given to New Zealand's Fern Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2006.

Among the judges was Nigel Greening, English proprietor of New Zealand's famous Felton Road winery, in Central Otago. Ostensibly taking part to represent the New Zealand camp, he was impressed by the quality of the Devon wines.

'The general standard of the wines from both countries was far more even than the scores suggest', he said.

'At these events, it is straightforward ripeness and bold flavours that win medals. If these are the main criteria, then New Zealand is bound to win more.'