Decanter World Wine Awards 2020 judging began on 1st August, and over the course of 28 consecutive days, 118 expert wine judges, including 37 Masters of Wine and nine Master Sommeliers, are judging 16,518 wines from 56 countries.
In order to safely carry out the world’s largest wine competition in this exceptional year, judging has been re-located across three floors of the Decanter offices in Canary Wharf to ensure absolute control of a safe judging environment and movement of people.
Decanter Head of Events & Awards, Victoria Stanage commented, ‘What started as a joke, holding DWWA 2020 at the Decanter office building, evolved into the best decision we could have made. The three vacant office floors in our building offered us the flexibility of space and time necessary to stretch the five-day tasting over a month.
‘The open plan office made it possible for social distancing measures to be put in place comfortably and the extended judging days helped when juggling the schedules of over 100 UK-based judges.’
Stanage continues, ‘Adapting the world’s largest wine competition to fit an unconventional venue, under vague and developing pandemic circumstances was definitely a challenge, but this experience has given us all hope that our industry may not be so far from getting back on its feet again.’
Now over halfway through the competition, Co-Chair Sarah Jane Evans MW said, ‘This competition has been terrific. If you think about it, it’s four months since any of us really went anywhere or did anything and I think we all arrived with a certain amount of nervousness about how we were going to get here, what it was going to be like, and it’s an absolute, perfect biosphere.
‘It’s like everything has been thought about. We’ve got our hand sanitiser, our masks, my little bleeper which tells me when I am getting too close, and then the organisation is second to none. I think it’s been terrific.’
On judging, Co-Chair Andrew Jefford added, ‘The social side is a bit greyer than usual, but on the judging side I would say, almost, it’s better than usual because it’s very easy to get really focused with your small panel which you’re working with over a number of days. We’re involved every single day of the panel so I really enjoy that close focus and that ability to concentrate and follow things through, so the judging side, if anything, has been even better.’
Rod Smith MW, returning Regional Chair for Provence, said of the competition, ‘I have judged all across the world from Shanghai to Dallas, but I always enjoy coming back to London for this because I think that the Decanter World Wine Awards is the most professionally organised of them that I’ve ever encountered.
‘It runs with a discussional aspect and wine for me is a conversational thing. It’s important to share opinions rather than just sitting there in isolation and giving a score – that’s not what wine’s about. Wine is about flavour and people and attitude, and Decanter manages to capture that the best I think.’
Joining the 2020 panel of Regional Chairs is Paz Levinson, new Regional Chair for Argentina, Dominique Vrigneau, overseeing judging for Beaujolais, Southwest and Rest of France and Justin Knock MW, new Regional Chair for Australia.
- Peter Mitchell MW
- Jeremy Lithgow MW
- Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW
- Matthew Forster MW
- Federico Moccia
- Matteo Montone
Results for the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards will be published on Decanter.com this 22 September.