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Decanter Award winners party under the dinosaurs

Dozens of winemakers and producers partied into the early hours last night for the Decanter World Wine Awards – in London’s imposing Natural History Museum

Over 370 people celebrated winning some of the wine world’s most prestigious awards, at tables set around the 26-metre diplodocus skeleton that dominates the central hall of the world-famous neo-gothic building.

Introduced by Decanter’s publising director Sarah Kemp and consultant editor Steven Spurrier, the third edition of the Awards ‘surpassed anything that has gone before,’ in the words of Spurrier.

Out of 6,311 entries this year, 29 International Awards were chosen, and 95 Regional Awards, all of which were presented last night.

The International Trophy winners included the Cuvee Orpale 1996 from Union Champagne in the Sparkling category, Morton Estate Coniglio 2002 in the Chardonnay Over £10 category, and the Greek Ktima Biblia Chora Ovilos in the White Over £10 category.

Top red wines included Campo Alla Sughera 2004 from Bolgheri (Bordeaux Varietal Over £10), Gordon Brothers Syrah 2002 from Washington State (Rhone Varietal Over £10), the Portuguese Wine and Soul Pintas 2004, which took the Red Blend over £10 prize.

Guests were delighted with the event. ‘A fantastic evening,’ said Alfredo del Rio Aisa from Spain’s Bodegas Real, which won a regional award for its Finca Marisanchez Roble.

Diners had come from every winemaking region of the world to be at the event, and were overwhelmed by the grandeur of the museum’s vast entrance hall, with its sweeping staircase on which the awards were presented. One guest asked if ‘the film Harry Potter was filmed here?’ It wasn’t.

This year Decanter also introduced a new category – the Retailer Awards, voted by Decanter readers and the Awards judging panels.

Waitrose, The Wine Society, Berry Bros and Majestic took the four top spots – singled out for their ‘terrific range, well-chosen selections, enthusiasm and courage to go for wines that are not always the populist choices,’ as Decanter’s acting editor Guy Woodward said in announcing the winners.

Waitrose’s wine head Mark Williamson said, ‘It is a great endorsement of the hard work of the buying team in selecting the very best range of wines for our customers’.

The evening closed with some hectic dancing – notably from the sure-footed Wines of Chile director Michael Cox, and an enthusiastic display from Weingut Knipser’s Volker Knipser.

Music was supplied by the All-Stars band, which banged out an eclectic mix of rock and roll and dance numbers under the bony gaze of the diplodocus skull.

And in a nice historic twist, decanter.com learned that Sir Terence Morrison-Scott, the past curator of the museum who was responsible for making the great dinosaur skeleton a centrepiece, was the godfather of Steven Spurrier’s wife Bella.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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