The judging room at Decanter Asia Wine Awards is full of top wine experts from Asia and beyond, and while all heads are down and focused during the judges’ search for Gold, there is a great sense of camaraderie in the room, but even more so when the judging day is done.
Held on Wednesday 4 September after a full day of judging, the judges came together for the 2019 Judges’ Party to celebrate the return of the eighth annual Decanter Asia Wine Awards. As expressed by many of the returning judges, Judging Week is a reunion. DAWA judges travel from near and far to taste, examine and discuss hundreds of wines during the week, but they also come to Hong Kong for Judging Week to re-connect, learn, network and share a mutual passion for wine with fellow experts.
The fun had at the Judges’ Party was a clear testament to this. See what the judges had to say about judging at DAWA, as well as photo highlights from this year’s celebration:
For me, it’s an annual learning seminar. Whichever part of the world we are, we love to travel and congregate here for judging week. It’s learning about new wines, it’s learning new wine styles, it’s learning from the best palates of the world. This is what I come here for.
– Gurjit Singh Barry, Sommelier and Wine Educator
You’ve got a very good panel of judges – the dream team. It’s like a week of tasting with all of the wine legends around the world, and also a lot of people with expertise in different Asian markets coming together as well.
– Corinne Mui, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Wine Educator of the Asian Wine Service and Education Centre
For me, if I have to describe DAWA, it would firstly be authority because I think that when you look at the judge panel these are among the best palates in the world, so they are very reliable tasters. Second would be global perspective because all the tasters here, also all the wines which are taking part in this competition, come from all over the world, so although it is an Asian-focused wine competition, I think we, the judges, but also the wines, represent quite a broad perspective of origins.
Thirdly, DAWA is fun. I think we are having a lot of fun doing it. Of course, judging wine has to be very professional and very specialist, but at the same time we have to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy a wine it is very difficult to give it a Gold or Silver medal. Trying to be positive is a very important aspect of wine judging, and the good thing about DAWA is there is a great group of people and I think everyone is really enjoying the process. That’s super important.
– Julian Boulard, Mater of Wine and Wine Educator in China
Photo highlights from the Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2019 Judges’ Party
Award-winning Sommelier Zachary Tay
David Hsiao, Head Sommelier at Michelin-starred La Cocotte
Gurjit Singh Barry and Decanter's Head of Events & Awards, Victoria Stanage
Vice Chair Andrew Jefford and Corinne Mui
Vice Chair Li Demei and National Education Director for ASC Fine Wines, Dorian Tang
Award-winning Sommelier Wataru Iwata
Master Sommelier Darius Allyn, Sake professional and Head Sommelier at Yardbird and Ronin in Hong Kong, Kiyoshi Hoshimi-Caines, Decanter's Sally Cheng and Beverage Director at Yardbird, Ronin and Sunday's Grocery restaurants in Hong Kong, Elliot Faber
Shanghai-based wine and food journalist Denis Lin, Vice Chair Li Demei and Dorian Tang
DGB Regional Manager for Asia Devon Lochhead and Certified Sommelier and CEO of e-commerce business FirstCellars.com, Alex Cumming
Decanter's Managing Director Robin McMillan and new DAWA 2019 Vice Chair, Hiroshi Ishida
Master Sommelier Darius Allyn and Master of Wine Julien Boulard
(left to right) Vice Chair Hiroshi Ishida, wine consultant Moonsong Bang, Wataru Iwata, Andrea Martinisi and Yoichi Sato, owner and sommelier of Maxivin restaurant in Tokyo
Group Sommelier and Restaurant Manager at HAKU Wallace Lo, DGB Regional Manager for Asia Devon Lochhead, and Certified Sommelier and CEO of e-commerce business FirstCellars.com, Alex Cumming
Decanter China Editor Sylvia Wu and Ken Man, Buyer and Fine Wine Specialist at Ginsberg+Chan
Global Director of Hotels and On Premise for Treasury Wine Estates in Shanghai, David Shoemaker and Decanter's Olivia Mason, Vahan Agulian and Simon Wright
(left to right) WSET Certified Wine Educator and Journalist, Mabel Lai, Corinne Mui, Moonsong Bang, Sally Cheng and Chris So (far right), who runs winelist.hk - a wine media, education and consultancy company based in Hong Kong
Chris So, Devon Lochhead and Nikhil Agarwal, a trained Sommelier, wine and spirits writer and editor for Food and Wine Magazine India
Sommelier and Group Wallace Lo, Beverage Director for The Grove and Baduzzi restaurants Andrea Martinisi, and French Sommelier Yves Sauboua
Head Sommelier at Forum Restaurant Hong Kong, Jacky Luk, and Group Sommelier and Restaurant Manager at HAKU, Wallace Lo
Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2019 is kindly sponsored by Acqua Panna and Riedel