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Three winemakers spent a day sniffing, swirling, sipping and spitting out wine from Central Otago and Canterbury last week.

Winemakers Jen Parr, of Valli Vineyard, Nadine Cross, of Peregrine Wines, and panel leader Olly Masters, of Misha’s Vineyard, spent Tuesday last week blind tasting and judging 111 wines entered into the regional 2020 New World Wine Awards at the Heritage Collection Lake Resort Cromwell.

Mr Masters, who has judged for more than 30 years, said he had been pleasantly surprised how good the wines had been across the board.

“It is a reflection of the industry overall.

“Judging was about working together as a team and learning and building your awareness of wines.

“You can never taste too many wines and your own [wines] benefit from that.”

Foodstuffs corporate affairs head Antoinette Laird said, traditionally, all entries which retailed for $25 or less were judged in Wellington.

However, because of Covid-19, organisers changed the format so judging was done in Central Otago, Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough regional hubs.

Central Otago Winegrowers Association logistics manager Lindy Gomez said she had been at the complex from 7.30am preparing the 111 entries and once the judging was complete, the room was locked.

She returned the next day to send the gold and highest scoring silver medal entries to Auckland for the second round of judging this week.

Ms Laird said the remaining wine would be offered to the chef.

Ms Parr has judged for eight years. She considered it an education and and said it involved learning how to describe the various wines.

Ms Cross has judged for 15 years and thought the season so far had been good, although the summer and autumn had been cooler and settled.

“As winemakers we need to be aware of the trends and styles happening out there.”

The results from the awards will be released in October.