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Food and Beverage Award winners

Nelson food and beverage producers make some of the finest product in New Zealand, as proven by the results achieved at various competitions including local, national and international events. Be it cheese, soft drinks, beer, wine or ice cream, to name just a few categories, our local businesses climb to the heights of success.

In the last couple of weeks two notable successful businesses have achieved great things, one in a local competition and one national in a national competition.

On the national stage New Zealand Creameries scooped an outstanding 15 Medals for 11 ice creams across five categories at the 2022 New Zealand Ice Cream & Gelato Awards, including a Supreme Award for their Deep South Licorice ice cream.

New Zealand Creameries is the parent brand for Motueka Creamery and Deep South Ice Cream, you may remember I wrote about Motueka Creamery a few years ago and was impressed by the effort the team at Motueka puts into creating fantastic products. Since then, Deep South has been added to the portfolio under New Zealand Creameries.

Motueka Creamery general manager Mike Elston, and marketing co-ordinator Lorelle Puklowski at their Motueka plant. (Photo: Braden Fastier Nelson Mail/Stuff)

“The New Zealand Creameries team take great pride in creating delicious ice cream from premium ingredients, so being recognised at the ice cream awards for both their brands, Motueka Creamery and Deep South, is always a thrill”, says Dene Brosnan, General Manager, New Zealand Creameries.

“Our Deep South Licorice won a gold medal in the standard ice cream category, which we were really pleased about, but then it was also awarded the Supreme Award for its category, which was amazing! It shows it is anything but standard! It is one of our popular flavours in dairies around the country, says Dene.”

“Ice cream-making and eating is all about fun and flavour, so we were really pleased that Deep South Aspiring Caramel Cookie Dough, Deep South S’mores and Motueka Creamery Strawberry Meringue all gained bronzes in the ‘new to market’ category as well as ‘premium ice cream’,” says Dene.

“Our commitment to quality was also recognised with the Motueka Creamery Passionfruit, and White Chocolate & Raspberry flavours gaining bronze medals in the ‘premium ice cream’ category.”

“It’s always great to get recognition through industry awards, but we also love hearing when people tell us how much they love eating our ice cream – whether it’s a scoop from the corner dairy or sharing a family-sized container from the supermarket, Kiwis love our ice cream, which is awesome,” he says.

A local annual competition is the Colin Harrison Memorial Trophy competition to find the region’s best chardonnay. This year it was won by Seifried Estate Family Winemakers with their Seifried Estate Winemakers Collection Barrique Fermented Chardonnay 2020 (RRP $29)

The Colin Harrison Memorial Trophy was established in memory of Colin who was a huge supporter of Nelson wines, Chardonnay in particular. He was also heavily involved with the original Taste Nelson Festival back in the 1990’s and was a key driver behind local food and beverage awards at the same time.

I have been one of the judges for this award for a number of years, but, as I couldn’t take part this year, I caught up with one of the judges, Trudy Shield to find out what the judges loved about the wine.

“My overarching impression of the Colin Harrison judging was that there were two distinct styles presented for judging, one reasonably heavily oaked, ripe and rich with higher alcohol and more intensely flavoured, the second lighter with more minerality but in many cases also quite heavily oaked.

“The wines were all tasted blind of course but I hazard a guess that this difference was between clay soils and fruit from the plains. The fact Seifried’s Winemakers Collection Barrel Fermented wine triumphed is an accolade to them as this will have likely been fruit off the plains with the potential to be less weighty. The wine had excellent depth of flavour, a good core and the balance was excellent.”

Seifried Estate Nelson Chardonnay 2020 ($20) also took out 3rd place while Tohu Wines Whenua Matua 2019 Chardonnay came in second.

We need to remember that both of these 2020 Seifried Estate wines were made under the very strict first Covid lockdown conditions, meaning producers were having to work under highly unusual conditions when making wines during this particular vintage.

When I spoke with one of the Seifried Estate winemakers, Heidi Seifried-Houghton, she told me “it was certainly a very testing time, some of our key staff from overseas left at short notice before borders were closed so our team was much smaller than usual for a large portion of vintage.

My sister, Anna was our covid coordinator and we had to be registered with MBIE as an essential business, we had our staff working in bubbles and we worked really hard to minimise any risk. It really defined our vintage, things changed overnight.

“You are up against all these challenges but you just have to keep going, put one foot in front of the other and keep going, to be fair it’s been the same for the last three years. We have had a really good run through all our vintages with no covid during the vintage and haven’t had any workplace spread.

“2020 was a very good vintage for us and we go to a lot of effort to make sure the best wines possible go into our Winemaker’s Collection range. In this case we kept all our individual picks separate, from harvest right through to tank or barrel, each parcel is kept separate to give us plenty of blending options to make blending selections with.

“We let each parcel do it’s thing, some is fermented in tanks before going into French oak barrels to mature, but with the Barrique Fermented Chardonnay the parcels of fruit were fermented in barrels. We also use a higher percentage of new oak in the final blend.

It’s really pleasing to see both Chardonnays do so well because we try to make wines that over deliver.  We try and pack plenty of quality into each wine we make so we deliver great value as well as quality wines.”

Heidi told me that the whole covid situation has taught them a lot. Seifried Estate have traditionally employed international interns during vintage, but covid has highlighted we can manage with our own staff. Everyone, from vineyard and winery crews, really stepped up and all ended up doing whatever was needed.

“We have some great all-rounders who are able to get stuck into anything, today for example winery staff are out planting young vines and this gives people an appreciation of the whole winemaking cycle.”

These, and other, awards prove you can buy locally produced products with absolute confidence in the quality, no matter if it is a beautiful wine to enjoy with dinner or a dish of ice cream for dessert, the region has your food needs covered.

Published in the Nelson Mail 21-09-2022

I have been writing a regular wine column for The Nelson Mail newspaper since 2000.

Unfortunately the column space is not big enough to include my thoughts on all of the many wines I taste. Hopefully this blog will fix that. It also gives me somewhere to archive the many columns I write. I will also include some favourite recipes from my dearly beloved who loves cooking and of course because wine and food simply go together. I will also point you in the direction of upcoming events and websites I think are great. Enjoy, Neil

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