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Judging begins for the largest-ever edition of Decanter World Wine Awards

Celebrating 20 years, DWWA judging week has started with a record number of wines being evaluated.

With two decades under its belt, Decanter World Wine Awards 2023 is once again breaking records with the largest-ever wine entries to date.

A decade ago the competition broke records at 14,362 wine entries from 27 countries. Now up more than 4,150 entries, this week more than 18,500 wines are being judged from 59 countries.

With four sample bottles required per entry, more than 74,000 bottles have been organised and flighted for judging. Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

Making their way from 31 countries to London for the competition’s 20th edition, judging this week involves almost 250 international wine experts, including 53 Masters of Wine and 19 Master Sommeliers.

Some of the longest-standing judges judging this week include Beverley Blanning MW, Christine Parkinson, Gerd Stepp, Matthieu Longuère MS, Philip Tuck MW, Andrew Jefford, Michael Hill Smith MW, Caroline Gilby MW, Jim Budd, Richard Baudains, Simon Field MW, Stephen Brook, Mike Ritchie MW, Alun Griffiths MW, Pierre Mansour and Anthony Rose.

New faces to the competition’s world-renowned judging panel include Amanda Wassmer-Bulgin, Beans Boughton MW, Bree Stock MW, Charles Foley, Eddie McDougall, Iain Riggs, Leona De Pasquale, Marien Rodriguez Lopez de la Calle, Melissa Worrall, Neil Bernardi, Nelson Pari, Rick Fisher, Thomas Curtius MW, Tom Hewson and Magdalena Kaiser.

The Northern Italy panel with (clockwise from front right) Regional Chair Michael Garner, Ben Robson, Andrea Eby and Matt Smith. Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

In the co-chairs’ welcome speech, Ronan Sayburn MS addressed the 2023 judges: ‘It’s really amazing to be back here and see all the experts in the room. I think, really, the strength of this competition really does depend on the quality of judges here and I think that that’s the future of the competition; it really does depend on the next generation of judges.’

Sarah Jane Evans MW added: ‘We have selected you because you are the best people for the job, so whether you have been judging for one year or 20 years – and some of us have been here that long – you are all really welcome. The success of this competition is to do with the quality consistency of your judging.’

The competition’s Co-Chairs (from left to right) Ronan Sayburn MS, Sarah Jane Evans MW, Andrew Jefford and Michael Hill Smith MW. Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

She continues, ‘DWWA just gets more and more professional, and of course, the other thing is the world is waiting. Producers are waiting, consumers are waiting, retailers are waiting; they want to see where these medals are going to be and every year we get surprises.

‘DWWA may be 20 years, but each year is absolutely different so this is a very special anniversary.’

Champagne Regional Chair Peter Liem (left), with Alan Bednarski (front right) and Stefan Metzner. Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

New this year, wines in alternative packaging have been included in DWWA’s entry qualifications. Recognising the quantity and quality of wines packaged in alternative formats like cans, bag-in-box, Tetra Pak, pouch and paper bottles, this year sees these wines judges against their peers – not by packaging type, but by country, region, colour, grape, style, vintage and price point.

All 18,521 wine entries are being tasted this week to award Bronze, Silver and Gold medals to qualifying wines, with second and third rounds of judging taking place next week to award Platinum and Best in Show medals to the competition’s best wines.

Regional Chair for Austria, Markus Del Monego MW signing off approval for a Gold medal wine. Credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave

Learn more about the DWWA judging process here.

DWWA 2023 results will be announced Wednesday 7 June on Decanter.com

With special thanks to our sponsor, Riedel

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