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Decanter World Wine Awards 2017 judging week begins

More than 200 of the world’s top wine experts have flown into London to begin judging the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards, the world’s largest wine competition.

More than 17,200 wines will be judged by 219 international experts, including 65 Masters of Wine and 20 Master Sommeliers. The number of entries is a new record and up 8% on 2016.

The Decanter World Wine Awards 2017 competition has also seen some major changes. Gerard Basset OBE MW MS, Michael Hill Smith MW and Sarah Jane Evans MW have taken on the joint chairmanship of the DWWA, whilst co-founder Steven Spurrier becomes chairman emeritus.

Other new chairs include Huon Hooke for Australia; Fiona McDonald, South Africa; Markus Del Monego MW, Germany; Matt Walls, Rhone; Andy Howard MW, Southern Italy; Justin Howard-Sneyd MW, Languedoc-Roussillon; Michael Garner, Regional Italy; Ferran Centelles, Spain and Beth Willard, Central and Eastern Europe

The DWWA judging is also being held in a new venue, Excel CentrEd, which offers ideal tasting conditions of natural light and air controlled temperature.

Over the next five days, the 219 judges will work in small teams according to their regional or stylistic speciality in order to pick out the best wines for consumers.

‘When we started DWWA in 2004 nobody could have predicted we would have over 17,000 entries. It is a testament to the rigorous judging process which both trade and consumers trust,’ said Sarah Kemp, Decanter’s managing director.

Kemp emphasised to judges on the first day at Excel that the quality of the judging process was paramount. ‘Trust is key,’ she said.

‘Think about whether you can put hand-on-heart and say to a Decanter reader “I am recommending this”,’ said co-chair Michael Hill Smith MW.

All wines are blind tasted by judges in a military-like operation led by Christelle Guibert, Decanter’s international tasting director along with her in-house team and dozens of ‘red shirts’, who are responsible for ensuring the wines are brought to the judges in pristine condition.

Gold medal wines will be put forward to compete for platinum medals against others from the same region or style. The platinum winners will then go on to a special tasting to decide which wines should be awarded platinum “best in show” status.

DWWA 2017 co-chair Sarah-Jane Evans MW said, ‘As co-chairs, the pleasure for us is working with the judges to recognise and reward the best, to share their excitement, and to find the wines we can confidently recommend to all wine lovers.’

The DWWA judging week takes a year to plan. Over the week Riedel supply 33,000  Chianti glasses and 9,000 Champagne flutes, 2,892 bottles of Belu water are provided. There will also be 100kg of cheese available to the judges.

All wine left over from the awards is sold in aid of Decanter’s ‘Turning Wine into Water’ programme for WaterAid. To date the DWWA has raised over half a million pounds.


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