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DWWA 2024: 18,000+ wines under review at the world’s largest wine competition

A look at what is happening at Decanter World Wine Awards judging week.

More than 18,300 wines from 57 countries have entered the 21st edition of Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) – and the judging is on now.

This week (6-11 May), 250 wine experts from 33 countries have come together in London to evaluate this truly global pool of wines.

One room of four with judges tasting in their regional panels. Credit: Nic-Crilly Hargrave

The imminent results promise to set definitive global standards, serving as essential reference points and recommendations for wine enthusiasts and industry professionals alike.

What’s new

Each year minor adjustments to DWWA judging protocols are meticulously refined, integrating valuable feedback from the expert judges. These modifications uphold the highest standards of judging excellence, ensuring evaluations are consistently at their best.

Addressing 2024 updates to a room of Regional Chairs, Co-Chair Michael Hill Smith AM MW said:

‘What I like about this competition is that we do try and improve everything every year. There was a survey last year and a lot of the information that came back has been used to further tweak.

‘One thing that makes this competition different from others is that one monosyllabic tasting note in a normal wine competition is OK. But here, particularly for the medal winners, they’re actually publishing what you write.’

Michael Hill Smith AM MW briefs a room of Regional Chairs and Senior judges. Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

While descriptive tasting notes for medal winners have always accompanied the competition’s published results, this year, all entrants, regardless of medal status, will receive tasting notes. This modification will provide non-medal winners with insights into why their wine did not receive a medal, for their benefit and understanding only.

Also new this year, wine tasting has been capped to no more than 80 wines per day (less 15 wines) to avoid palate fatigue and ensure each wine is thoughtfully evaluated.

72,000 bottes flighted and ready for tasting. Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

Finally, the judging process itself has been updated. Previously, only wines awarded a Gold medal (95+ points) within a panel were re-tasted for final endorsement by a Co-Chair. While this protocol remains unchanged, high Silvers (94 points) will now also undergo Co-Chair tasting for final endorsement. 

Replying to a query on this addition, Co-Chair Andrew Jefford explained, ‘it’s the quest to get the right result’.

DWWA Co-Chairs Andrew Jefford (left) and Ronan Sayburn MS (right). Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

Who’s new

Renowned worldwide for its distinguished panel of judges, this year’s competition features a dynamic group of returning experts and emerging talents. 

Among the 250 judges participating, 65 hold the prestigious title of Master of Wine, while 20 are esteemed Master Sommeliers. They are joined by acclaimed wine writers, consultants, buyers, producers, educators and other industry luminaries.

Second-time DWWA judge Amanda Wassmer-Bulgin, a wine director in Switzerland overseeing the wine programme at over four Michelin starred restaurants. Credit: Nic Crily-Hargrave

Welcoming new judges in her own new role as Co-Chair alongside Hill Smith, Jefford, Ronan Sayburn MS and Sarah Jane Evans MW, Beth Willard commented:

‘The last few years I’ve been involved as Regional Chair in some of the regions here – Central Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and then Spain. I’m in a new role as well this year, so I completely understand new people coming in. Welcome, and I’m sure you’ll really have a great week.’

New Co-Chair Beth Willard checks in a Central & Eastern European panel. Pictured: New joint Regional Chair Wojciech Bońkowski MW (left) and Darrel Joseph (right). Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

Travelling from 12 different countries and territories, new DWWA judges include:

  • Alberto Ruffoni (Spain) 
  • Anne Jones (UK)
  • Catherine Yen (Hong Kong SAR China)
  • Demei Li (China)
  • Dror Nativ MW (UK)
  • Eleftherios Hanialidis MS (Greece) 
  • Emily Brighton MW (UK)
  • Eugenio Egorov (UK)
  • Florencia Gomez (UK)
  • Ivan Barbic MW (Switzerland)
  • Justin Martindale MW (UK)
  • Lin Liu MW (France)
  • Philip Rich (Australia)
  • Rhys Pender MW (Canada)
  • Sara Muirhead MW (UK) 
  • Svetoslav Manolev MS (UK)
  • Will Hill (UK)
  • William Lowe MW (UK) 
  • Zvonko Herceg (Macedonia)

Plus, new Regional Chairs (click below to read exclusive Q&As)

New Acting Regional Chair for Chile, Amanda Barnes. Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

What’s next

All 18,000+ wine entries are being tasted this week to award Bronze, Silver and Gold medals to qualifying wines.

Next week (14-18 May), all Gold-awarded wines will be tasted again in a second round of judging to elevate the best to Platinum, then Platinums will be re-tasted once again to award the Top 50 wines of the competition – the Best in Show.

Gold-awarded wines from the first day of judging. Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

Results for all medal-winning wines will be published on Decanter.com on 19 June, with a new initiative DWWA Market Guide launching exclusively for 2024 medal winners on the same day.

In an effort to enhance producer prospects in the fiercely competitive UK market, the guide aims to facilitate valuable connections between producers and key buyers, importers and distributors. Fostering meaningful business dialogues, the guide seeks to ensure that more quality wines and producers secure listings which mutually benefit all parties involved.

DWWA 2024 results will be announced Wednesday 19 June on Decanter.com

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DWWA Market Guide: A helping hand in the competitive UK wine market

DWWA 2024 entries closing soon: A global benchmark for wine quality

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