- Discovering the Joys of New Zealand Wine

Newsletter for September, 2004

After a summer hiatus imposed by schedules and technical difficulties, the KiwiWineries Newsletter is back on track with the September issue. This month we feature a preview of the 2004 revision to the winery ratings. The revised and expanded ratings for over 300 wineries will be posted to website later this month on the equinox (no relation to the winery or any parties of that name.). While perhaps not as glitzy as other issues, this issue previews the top twenty overall wineries and the top twenty wineries in seven varietal categories.

CQI = Composite Quality Index

Not everyone has the time, let alone the inclination, to stay on top of myriad wine reviews that are published each year. Fortunately for those interested in New Zealand wines, there is at least one crazed individual, here at KiwiWineries, who tracks the reviews and crunches the numbers for you.

The CQI is a composite score of all of the ratings that were found for each winery. Seven major sources, books and periodicals, were used for the 2004 revision. Some sources rate the wineries and some rate the wines. Some use a 1 to 5 rating and some use a 100 point scale. All the available information was digested to give you a composite score on the 1 to 5 scale. There were over 5000 reviews from the seven sources which were categorized into approximately 3200 review units; which is one source for one winery for one varietal. Note that some sources may review more than half a dozen different label designations from a single winery for a specific varietal which were averaged for that review unit.

For purposes of the top twenty lists, wineries needed to be reviewed by at least two sources to be included in a varietal category. For the Overall rating, a winery needed at least five review units to be included. This criterion was used to minimize distortions that might be created by a winery receiving a single review from a generous reviewer.

So check out the top twenty lists and a few footnotes at the bottom.

Top Twenty Overall Wineries

(minimum of five review units)
Dry River Wines4.85
Kingsley Estate4.75
Mountford Estate Wines4.70
Te Whau Vineyard4.67
Spencer Hill Estate4.51
Newton Forrest Estate4.49
Neudorf Vineyards4.48
Herzog Winery4.45
Cloudy Bay 4.42
Seresin Estate4.42
Isabel Estate Vineyard4.41
Fromm Winery La Strada4.39
Martinborough Vineyard4.36
Pegasus Bay 4.35
Felton Road4.34
Craggy Range Vineyards4.30
Church Road Winery4.30
Daniel Schuster Wines4.29
Mount Edward4.29

Top Twenty Sauvignon Blancs

(minimum of two review units)
Seresin Estate4.64
Craggy Range Vineyards4.62
Cloudy Bay4.61
Brightwater Vineyards4.55
Neudorf Vineyards4.50
St. Arnaud's Gravitas4.50
Dry River Wines4.50
Isabel Estate Vineyard4.47
Staete Landt4.43
Wither Hills Vineyard4.40
Palliser Estate Wines4.32
Goldwater Estate4.31
Nga Waka Vineyard4.28
Framingham Wine Company4.26
Firstlands Vineyards4.25
Fiddlers Green4.25
Forrest Estate Winery4.24
Stoneleigh Vineyard4.23

Top Twenty Chardonnays

(minimum of two review units)
Spencer Hill Estate5.00
Kumeu River Wines4.89
Dry River Wines4.83
Pegasus Bay4.78
Stonyridge Vineyard4.75
Martinborough Vineyard4.75
Fromm Winery La Strada4.67
Neudorf Vineyards4.65
Mountford Estate Wines4.58
Church Road Winery4.54
Isabel Estate Vineyard4.54
Thornbury Wines4.50
Floating Mountain4.50
Cloudy Bay4.50
Te Mata Estate Winery4.46
Ata Rangi4.44
Matariki Wines4.39
Muddy Water Fine Wines4.37

Top Twenty Pinot Noirs

(minimum of two review units)
Mountford Estate Wines4.87
Dry River Wines4.83
Herzog Winery4.58
Greenhough Vineyard4.55
Isabel Estate Vineyard4.50
Walnut Ridge Estate4.50
Pegasus Bay4.48
Stratford Wines of Marlborough4.45
Fromm Winery La Strada4.35
Neudorf Vineyards4.35
Felton Road4.30
Gibbston Valley Wines4.26
Porter's Pinot4.25
Mount Edward4.25
Olssen's Of Bannockburn4.23
Daniel Schuster Wines4.21
Waipara Springs Wines4.19

Top Twenty Rieslings

(minimum of two review units)
Dry River Wines5.00
Seresin Estate4.85
Neudorf Vineyards4.75
Fromm Winery La Strada4.67
Felton Road4.62
Pegasus Bay4.55
Matua Valley Wines4.50
Mount Edward Winery4.37
Kim Crawford Wines4.37
Isabel Estate Vineyard4.37
Vavasour Wines4.33
Alan McCorkindale Ltd.4.33
Martinborough Vineyard4.33
Framingham Wine Company4.30
Rippon Vineyard4.25
Allan Scott Wines4.25
Herzog Winery4.25
Montana Wines aka Brancott4.19
Te Mania Estate4.17
Esk Valley Estate4.17

Top Twenty Aromatic Whites

Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer
(minimum of two review units)
Te Whare Ra Wines5.00
Dry River Wines5.00
Cloudy Bay5.00
Ata Rangi4.75
Alan McCorkindale Ltd.4.67
Spencer Hill Estate4.63
Johanneshof Cellars4.63
Seresin Estate4.62
Matakana Estate4.50
Herzog Winery4.50
Martinborough Vineyard4.38
Forrest Estate Winery4.37
Lawson's Dry Hills Wines4.31
Whitehaven Wine Company4.30
Staete Landt4.25
Allan Scott Wines4.25
Quartz Reef4.22
Hunter's Wines4.17
Isabel Estate Vineyard4.17
Neudorf Vineyards4.17

Top Twenty Merlots

including Merlot predominent blends
(minimum of two review units)
Newton Forrest Estate5.00
Kingsley Estate4.75
Herzog Winery4.75
Vidal Estate4.75
CJ Pask Winery4.59
Redmetal Vineyards4.58
Craggy Range Vineyards4.45
Morton Estate Wines4.42
Delegat's Wine Estate4.40
Villa Maria Estate4.35
Fromm Winery La Strada4.34
Goldwater Estate4.33
Mills Reef Winery4.31
Esk Valley Wines4.28
Torlesse Wines4.25
Wishart Estate Winery4.25
Arahura Vineyard4.25
Forrest Estate Winery4.17

Top Twenty Cabernet Sauvignons

including Cabernet Sauvignon predominent blends
(minimum of two review units)
Te Whau Vineyard5.00
Stonyridge Vineyard4.85
Kingsley Estate4.75
Te Motu Vineyard4.75
Craggy Range Vineyards4.62
Benfield & Delamare4.50
Te Awa Winery4.40
Villa Maria Estate4.39
Clearview Estate Winery4.30
Newton Forrest Estate4.28
Mills Reef Winery4.25
Esk Valley Estate4.25
Goldwater Estate4.25
CJ Pask Winery4.22
Alexander Vineyard4.21
Vidal Estate4.20
Matariki Wines4.15
Nautilus Estate4.13
Trinity Hill4.13
Alpha Domus4.13

While the results are generally in line with conventional wisdom, there may be some raised eyebrows (mine included) about the composition of the top twenty lists. In some cases where a top brand is not on the list, a notable producer may have a range of wines with different label designations i.e. Reserve, single vineyard, etc. While the average or lower range wines can lower the overall rating for the winery, the Reserve wine may be extraordinary, a point the consumer should keep in mind while reading and shopping.

Another factor affecting the composite rating is the variance between the reviewers and the "reputation" factor. Different review sources can be more conservative or more generous in their scoring. Established wineries with solid reputations tend to maintain their scores while new wineries may be disadvantaged by their lack of reputation. Conversely, the well-known wineries are more often reviewed by sources that are conservative, lowering their average, while the newer winery can benefit from having a limited number of reviews from generous sources.

Future revisions of the CQI will look to incorporate other sources such as competition results (which would also add a new set of footnotes and caveats). In the meantime, everyone is encouraged to try New Zealand wine and form his or her own opinions.

Trade entities interested in further detail or analysis may contact us via e-mail using the link below.

Any comments, additions or deletions to the mailing list, please e-mail me.