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Decanter World Wine Awards 2016 judging week begins

A fifth of the world's Masters of Wine have joined Master Sommeliers and top experts from around the world in London to begin judging tens of thousands of entries in the Decanter World Wine Awards 2016.

See all DWWA 2016 judges

Sixty-nine of the world’s 343 Masters of Wine arrived in Tobacco Dock in East London today (25 June) to help judge around 16,000 entries to the Decanter World Wine Awards 2016 (DWWA 2016), the largest international wine competition of its kind.

The 69 MWs were joined by 26 Master Sommeliers and other regional experts from around the world – including 36 ‘regional chairs’ and many Decanter writers, such as Jane Anson and Andrew Jefford.

Over the next five days, the 244 judges will work in small teams according to their regional or stylistic speciality in order to pick out some of the best wines on offer for consumers.

‘We’re thrilled to have you all with us, and very proud,’ said Decanter’s managing director, Sarah Kemp, in an opening address to judges.

All wines are blind tasted by judges in a significant operation involving behind-the-scenes support from Decanter’s in-house tasting team and dozens of so-called ‘red shirts’, who are responsible for providing the wines and monitoring the process.

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; what would previously have been called the international trophies.

DWWA 2016 chairman Steven Spurrier said the judging week represented a great example of international togetherness and spirit.

He advised the judges, ‘Recognise and award quality, because this is what Decanter readers all over the world are interested in. Please judge critically, and even severely, but don’t be ungenerous.’

When deciding between a gold and silver medal, he said judges should ask themelves ‘what more should this wine do to get a gold? And would the consumer be disappointed in this wine if it carried a gold medal sticker on the bottle?’

Spurrier and DWWA 2016 guest vice-chair, Gerard Basset OBE MW MS, will be called in to adjudicate if a panel cannot agree on a medal.

The DWWA judging week takes months to plan and involves tens of thousands of wine glasses – including 9,000 Champagne glasses – all supplied by Riedel.

Throughout the week, not-for-profit water producer Belu has also supplied 2,700 bottles of its mineral water. Around 18kg of cheese will also be served during lunch.

Full DWWA 2016 results will be published on 6 June.

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