Decanter World Wine Awards 2020 judging month took place from 1-28 August with a staggering 16,518 wines evaluated by 116 expert wine judges.
As Regional Chair for New Zealand, Rebecca Gibb MW noted, ‘I think the DWWA has provided a sense of normality in a very unpredictable and strange year and shows the wine world that actually, you can hold a wine competition and large-scale wine tastings in the current climate.’
For a closer look at how we made the world’s largest wine competition safely and successfully possible in this exceptional year, scroll down to see photo highlights below.
Results for the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards will be available this 22 September on Decanter.com
DWWA 2020 judging month took place at the Decanter offices in Canary Wharf in order to ensure absolute control of a safe judging environment and movement of people.
The judges' spacious set-up for tasting at this year's judging month ensured judges were at least two metres apart, but still able to discuss after each flight of wines.
An impressive total of 16,518 wines from 56 countries were judged across the 28 days of DWWA 2020 judging month.
As part of the safety measures put in place to hold the world's largest wine competition, judges and staff were required to wear proximity tags that vibrate when less than one meter from another person.
More safety measures put into place included temperature checks on the door, staggered arrival times to avoid rush hour commutes, PPE for all judges and staff, ubiquitous sanitiser stations, isolated tasting areas with designated facilities and bespoke Perspex screens shielding the coffee bars.
Panels made up of three specialised wine experts were well spaced out while tasting to ensure safety. If they were not a their desk tasting, masks and proximity tags were worn at all times.
All wines are tasted blind and organised for tasting by country, region, colour, grape, style, vintage and price. This ensures that wines are judged in flights against their peers.
Co-Chair Andrew Jefford tastes a flight of wines as acting Regional Chair for Bordeaux and the USA.
Co-Chair Sarah Jane Evans MW discusses with her panel after tasting a flight of wines.
116 expert wine judges, including 37 Masters of Wine and nine Master Sommeliers, judged at this year's competition.
Joint Regional Chair for North, Central & Eastern Europe, Caroline Gilby MW
Safety issues, such as spitting, forced creative thinking that brought about positive innovation. The innovation we are most proud: disposable spittoons with antibacterial powder that solidifies with liquid, then later incinerated with other hazardous waste.
As part of safety protocol, masks and proximity tags were worn by the runners at all times, and bottle covers were sterilised each time after handling.
Each of the six office kitchens were turned into coffee bars, run by Baristas hired from Change Please, a London-based coffee company helping homeless people off the streets by training and employing them. For breakfast, Naema, a locally owned Italian cafe across the road, delivered over 2,000 fresh baked pastries throughout the competition. The lunch menu items were dropped off daily in COVID secure packages by Fooditude, a London based sustainable catering company.
Judge Emma Dawson MW, senior wine buyer for Berkmann Wine Cellars, tastes on the Australia and Southern Italy panels at DWWA 2020.
New Regional Chair for Australia at DWWA 2020, Justin Knock MW
Gold labels are used to distinguish wines that have been awarded a Gold medal after tasting and discussion per flight. These bottles are re-tasted to award Platinum medals, then re-tasted again if in the running for Best in Show.
Warehouses with wines for upcoming flights were located on each of the three floors at the Decanter offices. To make best use of space and keep clear organisation, deliveries with upcoming wine flights were delivered three to four times a week with more than 6,300 bottles per delivery.
Head of Buying at The Wine Society, long-time judge Pierre Mansour judges on the panel for Spain.
Decanter donated over £10,000 to Belu, a carbon-neutral and ethically-sourced UK bottled water company who supplied the competition with thousands of bottles of water made from recycled glass and gives 100% of their profits to the charity WaterAid.
DWWA 2020 is kindly sponsored by Riedel