The world’s largest wine competition
I’ve recently spent a week in London chairing the New Zealand section of the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) – the world’s largest wine competition by a significant margin. Over 17,200 entrants submitted four bottles of each wine, that’s 68,800 bottles that must be unpacked, logged in, tagged, sorted, opened and disposed of.
Four bottles are necessary in case there’s a faulty closure or the wine is lucky enough to make it into a trophy tasting when fresh bottles are needed. Unopened bottles are sold to raise money for Water Aid – a “Turning wine into water” project that transforms lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene, and sanitation.
The DWWA is judged by 219 wine professionals including 65 Masters of Wine and 20 Master Sommeliers. I chaired the New Zealand section while Huon Hooke chaired the Australian section.
The competition used 33,000 Riedel Chianti glasses and 9,000 champagne flutes. The judges drank nearly 3,000 bottles of mineral water over five days.
How did New Zealand perform?
The results are still under embargo, however, by my calculations, New Zealand earned twice as many gold medals as the overall average. My observations on several classes:
- In the past, I have been very critical about the poor quality of sauvignon blanc in the lowest price category (under GBP £7.99) but I was surprised and delighted this year with the overall quality at the cheap and cheerful end of the scale.
- My fellow judges and I were all knocked out by one (moderately dry) riesling. I’ll share its identity when known and after I have purchased a case.
- Pinot noir was a predictably strong class that earned many gold medal awards.
- Chardonnay was another strong class with some surprisingly good wines in the cheaper categories.