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Popular wine stripped of rating

Published: 11:05AM Saturday December 02, 2006 Source: One News

One of New Zealand's most popular wines has been stripped of a prize endorsement after scientific testing proved the wine judged was different to a bottle on the shelf.

Wither Hills was to be named in Cuisine magazine's list of top 10 sauvignon blanc wines, but that all changed after an ESR scientist concluded that the entered wine was not the same.

But Wither Hills's chief winemaker Brent Marris says that while the wine in the competition was different to the one sold on the shelves, the public have not been misled.

"Technically they are different wines, but from a quality point of view and from a style and taste point of view they're essentially the same," he says.

Marris says the wine given to judges was one of the first bottlings and had slightly higher alcohol content.

An audit has cleared the company of intentional wrongdoing.

"With the co-operation of Wither Hills we are continuing to look at their records to make sure that we have covered every avenue that we can to make sure we understand exactly what's happened, and to the full extent possible," says New Zealand Winegrowers CEO Philip Gregan.

Changes are already in place to ensure it does not happen again and Wither Hills' production is expected to be a few months late next year to make ensure consistency.

A full investigation will be completed next week.