See behind the scenes as dozens of top wine experts from across Asia, including professor Li Demei from China and award winning sommelier Shinya Tasaki, begin judging thousands of entries to this year's Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA).
Forty judges arrived at Hong Kong’s Cyberport on Tuesday 1 September to begin collectively blind tasting 2,600 wines entered into the Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2015.
Some of Asia’s best palates are among the judges. China’s professor Li Demei, already a columnist for DecanterChina.com, is one of the new vice chairs at DAWA 2015, joining wine critic and writer Poh Tiong Ch’ng and Japan’s Shinya Tasaki, previously named the world’s best sommelier and now president of the international sommeliers’ association.
Decanter’s publishing director, Sarah Kemp, welcomed the vice chairs to the fourth edition of DAWA. From right to left they are, Steven Spurrier, Poh Tiong Ch’ng, Andrew Jefford, Shinya Tasaki, Gerard Basset OBE MW MS, Li Demei and Michael Hill Smith MW.
Judges listen to the opening addresses by Sarah Kemp and Steven Spurrier ahead of tasting. Spurrier, who is Decanter consultant editor and chair of the awards, said that it was important to be critical. ‘Gold medals are the best that a wine can be,’ he said, adding that golds would generally constitute 2% of an entire tasting set.
When it comes to deciding medals, Spurrier drew a parallel between the role of the vice chairs and that of Queen Victoria within the British political system of the 19th Century. ‘Parliament defined her role as having the right to advise, encourage and warn. This is similar to the role of the vice chairs at Dawa 2015,’ he told judges.
He emphasised that a whole panel must come to agreement before a wine is awarded a medal.
After the speeches, it was time to get down to business. A team of assistants are working throughout the week to check and pour wines for judges; a similar job to the one performed by Decanter’s ‘red shirts’ during the Decanter World Wine Awards.
Some of you may have read Andrew Jefford’s take on the state of wine tasting notes this week. There should be plenty of chance for judges to sharpen their skills in Hong Kong’s Cyberport. Just in case, here is Jefford’s six step guide on how to write wine tasting notes that are useful.
Professor Li Demei, one of the leading authorities on Chinese wine and a columnist for DecanterChina.com, is attending DAWA 2015 as a vice chair for the first time. He is also an early frontrunner for the best dressed judge at this year’s competition.
To celebrate a successful judging week for the Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2015, with over 2,600 wine entries, our judges enjoyed an evening of celebration at Mamoz in Hong Kong.
Results for the Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2015 will be published on Decanter.com on 5 October 2015.