As you might have read in HB Today, Hastings lost its bid to be designated the “Wine Capital of New Zealand” by a group called the “Great Wine Capital Network.”

Christchurch might have won on a technicality (they are apparently a “real city” with a bigger population), but they can only dream about producing better wine than Hawke’s Bay!

Ironically, the day the decision was announced, another story ran in HB Today (sorry, not online) in which Andrew Caillard, a top Australian wine critic, enthused: “My tastings here now have confirmed what I long suspected — Hawke’s Bay produces some of the finest chardonnay in the world.”

But even more impressive is the regularity with which Hawke’s Bay reds are winning top competitions and tastings.

In his latest article in BayBuzz Digest, Bordeaux … Meet Hawke’s Bay, Mark Sweet describes how six Gimblett Gravels reds in the Bordeaux style clobbered the best French entries in an internationally-judged tasting last October at Lake Taupo, taking #1 and four of the top six places.

My pal Paddy Maloney tells me that, more recently, Craggy Range, Church Road and Sacred Hill reds whacked the French again, taking 1st, 2nd and 3rd in a prestigious San Francisco competition.

And even I know about Te Mata’s Coleraine, about which renowned Robert Parker of Wine Advocate says: “I conjecture whether this is New Zealand’s greatest wine.”

So, Christchurch might have won a Pyhrric victory.

Anyone willing to travel around the world to sample Christchurch wines (exactly what are “Christchurch wines” anyway?) on the say-so of “The Great Wine Capital Network” will be a serious wine aficionado and, as such, undoubtedly will be aware of the reputation of Hawke’s Bay’s wines … so they’ll visit us too.

That’s a taste test Hawke’s Bay won’t lose!

Tom Belford

P.S. Does this sound like sour grapes? No such thing in Hawke’s Bay! The only sour grapes I foresee are the visitors who find their tasting time wasted in Christchurch, courtesy of the “Great Wine Capital Network.”

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  1. Although Hastings/Hawke's Bay didn't get the title, we certainly won the hearts and tastebuds of the delegation.

    Unfortunately the 'old world' struggles to 'get' what a big fish we are in our small sea. It's all down to scale (and not the fishy variety) and they just don't understand how different NZ is to the rest of the world when it comes to the 'big is best' game.

    As someone involved directly in hosting the delegation, I was incredibly proud of all the wonderful people in our region who lent their support, both in kind and financial, to the Great Wine Capital bid. Seeing so many passionate people pull together just gives us a stronger reason to use that energy regardless of our title!

    We will hopefully still see some benefit on the visitor side however, via promotion of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, which starts in Hawke's Bay and ENDS in Marlborough. Sooo sorry about that Canterbury and Central Otago!

    FYI – the Hawke's Bay / Bordeaux blind tasting was also held in London in February this year, and the HB wines scored really well then too…

  2. Still, I was happy not to be duped by some self-professed experts of $40.000 a year for the rights for a title of "Wine Capital". What a bizarre misappropriation of rate payers funds that would have been!

    Console yourself with a bottle of the best wine, locally grown. A rose (or sauvignon) by any other name would still smell as sweet

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