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Judging fee NZD $75 + GST. (NZD $86.25) per wine

No of bottles: 1 if under screw cap, 2 if under cork (per entry)

Entries must be wholly made from grapes grown in New Zealand and processed and matured in New Zealand under the direction of an Eligible Winery.

All Entries must comply with all applicable legislative requirements relating to the composition and labelling of wine, including the Australia New Zealand Joint Food Standards Code, the Food Act 1981, the Food (Safety) Regulations 2002, the Wine Act 2003 and Regulations and the Fair Trading Act 1986.

No wine may be entered more than once, whether under the same or a different label.

No unfinished tank or barrel sample can be entered.

The wine sample supplied for judging must conform in both quality and style to that made available for sale in the general marketplace.

All entries should generally be clearly and separately labelled under their final commercial label.

However, for wine that has been finished and bottled in cleanskin but is as yet unlabelled a temporary typed label may be used provided that the details on said label accurately reflect the details that will appear on the final commercial label and can only apply to one specific label even if the wine is released under more than one label.

There are no stockholding requirements.

We are happy to evaluate library releases provided they have not been entered for evaluation by NZ Wine Rater before - however these will not be published on our website.

Trial wines are also accepted, but these will not be published on our website.

There will be no refunds of entry fees once a wine is entered, even for wines that do not arrive in time for judging.

All wines entered become the property of the


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An overview of the '' tasting.

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Independent, objective, professional evaluation
of New Zealand Wine
Our highly experienced tasting panel of Steve Bennett, Master of Wine and winemaker Lynnette Hudson provide reliable ratings that consumers, the wine trade, and producers can trust.
Steve Bennett, Master of Wine
“Stephen is renowned for his tasting prowess.”
Bob Campbell, Master of Wine
“Steve Bennett is known for his discerning palate.”
John Hawkesby, The New Zealand Herald
Lynnette Hudson, WINEMAKER
“One of our leading women in wine, she is at the top of her game.”
Cameron Douglas, Master Sommelier
“Her enthusiasm and passion for wine is unrivalled.”
Matthew Jukes, Wine Writer UK
Our Integrity Statement

Our intention is to provide an independent, objective, and reliable assessment of New Zealand wines. Our goal is that, based on the integrity of our assessments, consumers of New Zealand wine throughout the world can make informed buying decisions. Furthermore, we wish to provide wine producers and their distribution networks with a rating system they can use with confidence to promote their wines.

To this end, we wish to assure you that neither of our judges rely on as their primary source of income. We do not have a vested interest in churning out high scores to guarantee an income stream. The integrity and accuracy of our ratings is where our intrinsic value lies.

Our entry fee is used solely to remunerate the judges and assistants for their time spent tasting and writing notes and to ensure the commercial viability of this service.

Press Releases

12th Dec 2022: Sauvignon Blanc - Statement and results - (PDF 465KB)

12th Oct 2022: NZ Red Wines, All Varieties and Blends Tasting - Statement and results - (PDF 479KB)

29th Jun 2022: Pinot Gris, Riesling and 'Other' Whites - Statement and results - (PDF 479KB)

23rd Mar 2022: Sparkling, Rosé and Reds other than Pinot Noir - Statement and results - (PDF 456KB)

10th Dec 2021: Sauvignon Blanc Tasting - Statement and results - (PDF 446KB)

8th Nov 2021: Pinot Noir Tasting - Statement and results - (PDF 446KB)

Images: Steve and Lynnette
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Images: Social Media Image Pack
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About Us
our judges
steve bennett mw

Has more than 30 years' experience working in the retail, merchant, and educational sectors of the wine industry including time as National Wine Manager for New Zealand's largest wine retailer (at the time) and as the first Education Officer for the Institute of Masters of Wine in London. He has managed his own international wine importing company the past 20 years and for 10 years he produced his own range of premium New Zealand wines. He was wine columnist for North & South for 9 years and has been a senior wine judge and panel member for several NZ wine shows and publications. In 1994 he became the youngest ever of 483 people to have passed the Master of Wine Examination since its inception in 1953. Steve has educated consumers and wine trade professionals in NZ, Australia, the UK and Europe. He has visited most of the major wine regions of the world.

lynnette hudson

Has nearly 3 decades of winemaking experience. She was winemaker at the highly acclaimed Canterbury winery, Pegasus Bay for 20 years. She has also worked for other leading New Zealand wineries, Pyramid Valley and Villa Maria. Lynnette is Master of Ceremonies and Organiser of The Southern Pinot Workshop with which she has been involved for 17 years. Additionally, she has diverse international experience working in vineyards and wineries around the world including: Domaines George Roumier, Nicolas Potel, and Domaine de la Vougeraie in Burgundy; Chehalem Winery in Oregon; Chapel Down in the UK; and vintage experience in places as diverse as Romania, Hungary, and Crimea. Hers is a truly global perspective.

How We Taste
The following is a guide to our tasting method:

Wines are tasted blind. The identity of the wine, its region of origin and price are not known to the judges at the time of tasting. Only the grape variety (or blend) and vintage are revealed before evaluation.

Wines are tasted according to vintage and specific wine style in order to allow the judges to focus their senses without the unnecessary distraction of switching from one wine style to another and subsequent palate fatigue.

Each wine is evaluated individually but tasted alongside other wines of a similar style to expedite the tasting process without causing the judges palate-fatigue by switching repeatedly from one style to another.

This is not a wine show, where wines are compared to other wines in the tasting, and those wines that stand out from the crowd are scored highest.

We evaluate each wine individually drawing on our decades of tasting experience of both New Zealand and international wines to formulate a score that is holistic rather than compared to the wines tasted on the day.

By tasting wines within style groups, more elegant, delicate, and nuanced wine styles are able to score just as highly as more powerfully structured and intense wine styles.

We evaluate the wines on two main criteria: from the perspective of consumer appeal but also to ensure technically sound winemaking.

Once the judges have finished tasting, their individual scores are recorded and then revealed to the other judge. Where there is a large discrepancy, the judges are given an opportunity to re-taste an individual wine and review their scores. This process provides a safeguard, whereby if a particular virtue or fault has been overlooked by one of the judges, there is an opportunity to re-evaluate. Consensus may be reached or the discrepancy may stand.

The final score of every wine is a straight average of both judges scores. High scores are thereby a reflection of both judges’ consensus that the wine is deserving of the recognition.

All our tastings are conducted using the same glassware for consistency, wines in any single tasting are opened at the same time, soon before tasting, and are served at the same suitable ambient temperature. Our tasting notes carry the date the wines were tasted. Please note the following elements can all effect the taste of wine: development in the bottle, air-time once opened, temperature, glassware, food accompaniments, etc. Hence your taste experience may be different than that of our judges.

The Rating System
The following is a guide to our scoring system:

But first a caveat - the process of trying to condense the entirety of a wine's myriad qualities into a single score is fraught with difficulties. We acknowledge that our assessment, while focused and undertaken using our considerable professional experience is the result of tasting one example on one day and as such should be taken as a guide rather than an absolute.

We would also encourage our readers to use the scores in conjunction with the description of the wine in our tasting notes. We do not use flowery, evocative, subjective language in our tasting notes. They are to the point, describing only the most distinctive characteristics, style, and structural components of the wine.

We do not believe there is a single, objective international rating system where the myriad of wine styles and many hundreds of different grape varieties grown around the world can be measured against a single yardstick. For example: the intrinsic qualities of a fresh Moscato d’Asti can’t be directly compared with the virtues of a mature vintage Champagne. The complex character and structure of Barolo is distinctive from the appealing fruitiness and soft tannins of Beaujolais. Many international publications are bound to attempt this. Fortunately we do not have to because we focus on the wines of just one country.

We score using the 100 point scoring system, but we evaluate the wines within the context of New Zealand wine styles and their relative merits. We are not for example comparing New Zealand Pinot Noir with Burgundy, Syrah with the Rhone, etc. This is not to say New Zealand wines are intrinsically inferior. But it is common sense that the virtues of a 96/100 Hawke's Bay Chardonnay are different to those of a 96/100 Le Montrachet.

Most publications have their own slightly nuanced scoring. Not all 100 point systems have the same quality brackets. We have our own, and the key to using our system as a guide is to familiarise yourself with our particular quality parameters.

Our scores both reflect how the wine revealed at the time of tasting, combined with any perceived potential for development. Hence a one-year-old Cabernet-Merlot or Syrah may receive a high score, even though it may not be entirely pleasurable to drink at this moment.

96 - 100

These classic wines are amongst the finest produced in NZ and are worth extra effort to seek out for their distinguished character.

93 - 95

Genuinely distinctive wines that stand out for their superior quality and character.

90 - 92
Highly Commended

Very good wines with pleasurable character.

88 - 89
Wine of Merit

A well-balanced wine with character above the ordinary.

Good (acceptable)


No Award

85 - 87, a solid, cleanly made wine with no noticeable flaws.


Below 85, mediocre to poor.

NB. We don't publish any results below wine of merit.
The purpose of NZ Wine Rater is to promote and encourage excellence, not to criticise shortcomings.

Tasting Calendar 2022/2023

Nov 2022 - Sparkling, Rose, NZ & Imported

Dec 2022 - New Releases (Wines Of the Year)


Feb 2023 - Pinot Gris/Riesling All Other White Varieties Sweet

April 2023 - New Releases

May 2023 - Australia and Americas

June 2023 - Chardonnay and Orange Wine

July 2023 - New Releases

Aug 2023 - Pinot Noir and Other Red Varieties

Sep 2023 - New Releases

Oct 2023 - Sauvignon Blanc

Nov 2023 - Sparkling, Rose, NZ & Imported

Contact Us is a fully New Zealand owned and operated business.

NZ Wine Rater Limited
Suite 16, 160 Broadway
Auckland 1023
New Zealand

Phone: (09) 3666879


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Purchase Your Rating Stickers
Stickers are only available to entrants who have earned them. Each purchase of stickers is vetted.

Stickers are $40 (+GST) per 1000. Freight is $4.35 (+GST) for the North Island, $8.70 (+GST) for North Island Rural, $8.70 (+GST) for South Island (Rural or not).

96 - 100

These classic wines are amongst the finest produced in NZ and are worth extra effort to seek out for their distinguished character.

93 - 95

Genuinely distinctive wines that stand out for their superior quality and character.

90 - 92
Highly Commended

Very good wines with pleasurable character.

88 - 89
Wine of Merit

A well-balanced wine with character above the ordinary.

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