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Decanter World Wine Awards: America’s emerging wine regions grab Gold

American wine fared particularly well at the 2024 iteration of Decanter World Wine Awards, with two Platinum medals and a Best in Show for wineries from Napa and Oregon's Willamette Valley. Perhaps the biggest result were the first-ever Golds for a Virginia wine and a French-American hybrid rosé from the state of Pennsylvania.

The Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) 2024 have been unveiled with fantastic news for American wineries who entered the competition. In addition to a Best in Show from Napa, US wines took home two Platinum awards and several Golds. For America’s emerging regions, two Gold medals marked a landmark for the country’s developing viticulture along the East Coast.

In its 21st edition, the world’s largest wine competition saw 18,143 wines judged from 57 countries. There were only 50 Best in Show and 117 Platinum medals awarded, together making up just 0.92% of all wines tasted.

One Best in Show and two Platinums

Napa’s Clos du Val won Best in Show for the US at the 2024 competition, earning 97 points. The 2021 Yettalil from the Stag’s Leap District is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 10% Malbec.

‘The dry yet measured 2021 season in the Napa Valley has produced some splendid wines, and everyone who tasted this wine was very excited both about the joy of its sensual profile as well as about its ageing potential – though it’s far from forbidding at present,’ the judges commented.

They said: ‘It’s a saturated black red in colour, with melting, yielding black-fruit aromas on the nose (bramble, damson, elderberry). There are flowers and a box- or privet-like freshness generating lift for those fruits. On the palate, the wine is ample and mouth-filling, packed with pure, fresh, floral fruits – yet suggesting a little exotic spice, too. The diagnostically soft yet ample Napa tannins are much in evidence, both lending the wine seriousness and food-friendliness yet also ensuring that it will endure well in time.’

There were two Platinum wines from the United States, which were also awarded 97 points. DWWA Judge and Master of Wine Bree Stock, who makes wine in Willamette Valley, explained the Platinum judging process. ‘DWWA is the most rigorous wine competition judging in the world. It is no small feat to achieve a Platinum medal in this competition. Platinum is only awarded by the small panels of Regional Chairs who re-taste and reassess all the Gold medal wines awarded and, if warranted, raise a Gold to Platinum.’

The two Platinum wines were the 2021 Trefethen Family Vineyards, Dragon’s Tooth – a blend of 49% Malbec, 37% Petit Verdot and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, alongside the Audeant Vineyards, Luminous Hills Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, also from the 2021 vintage.

‘Only seven Pinot Noirs were awarded Platinum medals in 2024 – four were Cru Burgundies, one from Australia’s cool Yarra Valley and from the Valais in Switzerland, and just one from North America,’ said Stock.

‘Audeant in Oregon’s Willamette Valley works with high elevation cool vineyard sites that allow the Pinot Noir grape to retain bright acidity and energetic palates dancing with delicate high-toned red berry fruits,’ she added.

Emerging regions grab Gold

Two wines from unsuspecting places in America were awarded Gold at DWWA 2024.

Virginia’s Chestnut Oak Vineyard in the Monticello AVA was awarded 96 points for its 2019 Petit Verdot. From the shores of Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie, an astonishing rosé from the French-American hybrid grape Chambourcin, Mazza’s The Perfect Rosé 2022, made in a zippy, bone-dry style, scored 95 points—a first for Pennsylvania and a hybrid from the United States.

‘I’m thrilled with this result,’ said winemaker and proprietor Mario Mazza. ‘For over a decade, we’ve been developing and refining our rosé program. It was inspired years before by a combination of my exposure to some memorable rosés while working in South Australia and subsequently with a project that gave me a glimpse at the potential for Chambourcin to make truly great rosé.’

Mario Mazza of Mazza Vineyards. Credit: Mazza

‘Chambourcin grows naturally and bountifully in the Lake Erie AVA,’  Mazza added. ‘So we have a well-honed familiarity with its brilliant colour and bright acidity – both of which provide the perfect framework for an excellent rosé.’

From Chestnut Oak Vineyard, winemaker David Eiserman commented, ‘Virginia is an exciting region in which to pursue fine wine. There are several challenges, and the seasons are variable, but recent years have provided some excellent vintages where incredible fruit can be had by those willing to work for it.

‘Receiving recognition for Virginia wine in the DWWA is a great honour,’ Eiserman said.

‘We are pleased to introduce wines from our region to the European market, where much of the inspiration for our estate is derived. There are great wines produced throughout the state and I am confident that there are more accolades for Virginia on the horizon.’


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