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Wine taste test 2011

Australian and New Zealand sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs go head to head.
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01 .Introduction


We took 30 sauvignon blancs and 30 pinot noirs, half each from New Zealand and Australia, and pitted them against each other in a blind taste test.

  • Overall, there were twice as many wine show medal-standard wines from across the ditch (24) as there were Australian (12).
  • However the average score for all the Australian wines compared with the New Zealand wines was about the same, indicating good consistency from the Australian wines on test.

See How we test for details, and for more information on Alcohol, see Food and drink.

Australia vs New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand have a long history of friendly rivalry. We argue over the origin of the pavlova. We both claim actor Russell Crowe as our own (when it suits anyway). And when it comes to sport - well, it’s probably best not to mention the rugby…

If it’s something we both do well, we either fight to claim it or be acclaimed for it. Given that winemaking is something both countries excel at, CHOICE decided a good, old-fashioned head to head was in order for this year’s wine taste test. 

Of course our results are unlikely to resolve any rivalry. For those Aussies and Kiwis wishing to continue the debate, we suggest you do it over a glass of wine, a tasty meal and with great company and make it a pleasurable experience – the way all good wine should be enjoyed!

How we test

  • CH1111_Wine_testing_WEBThe wine selection is based on those most commonly bought at Allied Liquor Merchants and Woolworths. We’ve also included wines recommended by wine experts and CHOICE members. Equal numbers of sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs from Australia and New Zealand were selected. We ensured that the price range of the wines representing each country was similar for each variety.
  • Expert tasters are trained to judge wines on their merits, setting aside personal preferences. The wines are tasted blind, identified only by numbers. Each expert independently gives the wines a score out of 20, following the international show scoring system for wines – a maximum of three for appearance, seven for nose (aroma) and 10 for palate.
  • The score published in the table is a consensus score reached when the experts discuss the wine after tasting, still without knowing the wines. A score less than 15.5 points indicates the wine is OK but nothing special. One that scores 15.5 to 16.9 points would be awarded a bronze medal at a wine show, 17 to 18.4 points would earn a silver and 18.5 or more a gold.

Meet the experts


In order from left to right

  • Phillip Gregory chaired our tasting and works for specialist importer Pinot NOW. He’s an experienced wine judge with a Master of Wine Quality from the University of Western Sydney.
  • Gavin Lennard is Cellar Club Director for the Wine Ark Cellar Club, a specialised buyers group for collectors of fine wine. He’s also the founder of the Morpeth Wine Academy, which provides wine education and wine tours as well as technical winemaking and marketing advice to wine producers.
  • Ross McCann works for the specialist wine importer Vintage and Vine. He has years of tasting experience and has been the Rothbury Estate Taster of the Year.
  • Andrea Pritzker is the Content Manager for Langton’s Wine Auctions. She holds a Diploma in Wine Business from the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and is currently studying for the practical exams for the Master of Wine qualification.
  • Paul Rogers, a wine lawyer, wine educator and wine judge at both local and national wine shows, holds the Australasian Wine Masters Award from the International Wine Academy and the University of Western Sydney.

Views on vintage

Wine vintage plays an important role in the quality of wine. When faced with a choice of vintages for a particular wine, or if you’re buying from a region and want to know which year was a good one, try the following resources:


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