Wine expert and writer (pictured left), Oz Clarke has been inducted in the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame and will be presented with his certificate of membership today, fittingly, on the occasion of International Sauvignon Blanc Day at New Zealand House in London.
A passionate New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc enthusiast and advocate who helped put New Zealand wine on the global map, Clarke is the first person in the UK to receive this honour, and only the second non-Kiwi (after Australian David Hohnen in 2006) to be recognised for having made major contributions to the development and enhancement of the domestic and export-based wine industry in New Zealand.
“There had never before been a wine that crackled and spat its flavours at you from the glass,” said Clarke at the inaugural International Sauvignon Blanc Celebration, held in Marlborough earlier this year, where he captivated the audience as a keynote speaker with his early memories of tasting New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Oz first visited New Zealand in 1987 as a guest overseas judge for the inaugural Air New Zealand Wine Awards, the country’s premier national wine competition. He came again a few years later to judge, and has been a regular keynote speaker at the triennial Pinot Noir International events held in Wellington since 2001.
Commenting on Clarke’s induction, the chairman of the New Zealand Wine Hall of Fame Trust, Bob Campbell MW (who, incidentally judged on the same panel as Clarke in 1987) said: “Oz is special to Kiwi winemakers because in 1984 he was among the first to recognise that Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc had added a new style and flavour to the world of wine, and he never stopped saying it to anyone who would listen.
“Then, in 2001 he rated our best Pinot Noirs as being up there with the best of Burgundy – not better than but comparable with and complementary in style. On personal and regional levels, Oz has taken the time and trouble to get to know our wine people and their terroirs, and the synergies are such that we have come to regard him as an honorary Kiwi.”