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DWWA 2022: Sneak preview of styles to look out for

This year’s Decanter World Wine Awards promises a treasure trove of exciting bottles for readers to delve into, as several Regional Chairs offer clues on a few styles to look out for in the upcoming results.

With more than 18,200 wines tasted by our expert judging panels and entrants spanning 56 countries, the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) 2022 edition promises to deliver an eclectic mix of brilliant bottles to seek out – across a broad range of prices. 

Official results for DWWA 2022, including the winners of coveted Platinum and Best in Show medals, won’t be published until 7th of June. However, here are just a few of the styles to watch out for, based on a selection of personal highlights from some of our Regional Chairs.

Eastern Europe is one broad region that has garnered significant attention at DWWA in recent years, with an impressive roster of high-profile medals.

DWWA 2022 preview

All wines are blind-tasted during DWWA judging. Photo credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave.

It’s an exciting region for wine lovers to explore, said Caroline Gilby MW, joint Regional Chair at DWWA 2022 for North, Central and Eastern Europe alongside Darrel Joseph.

‘Eastern Europe and the Balkans (and the Caucasus / Eurasia) is always so fascinating to judge as there is such an incredible diversity of indigenous grape varieties, many capable of very exciting wines: Rebula, Malvazija, Posip and Grk to name a few whites that can and did produce amazing wines [at DWWA 2022],’ she told decanter.com.

‘On the red side, Rara Neagra from Moldova impressed as did Areni Noir from Armenia and there was a lovely Mavrud from Bulgaria.’

She added, ‘It’s an incredibly diverse region in terms of styles too – from great bottle-fermented sparklers, dry whites, reds and rosé, as well as being a hot bed for skin macerated and orange wines. 

‘And, of course, some of the world’s greatest sweet wines in the form of Tokaji Aszú – which was in great form thanks to the glorious 2017 vintage.’

Gilby added that she enjoys seeing local grapes with a ‘workhorse’ reputation get their chance to shine, but she said international grape varieties should not be ignored, from Slovenian Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to Riesling from Kazakhstan.

Simon Field MW, Regional Chair for the UK, said he was impressed by the terroir focus among the country’s producers. ‘The ever increasing quality of the sparklers was not a surprise per se, but it was excellent to have such diversity, both stylistically and geographically,’ he said.

‘Self-belief informs this development, allied to ever more precise understanding on the minutiae of the soils and what is best suited for which style. At this rate there will definitely, before too long, be strident calls for a more precise taxonomy/classification, but that debate is for another day!’

He also highlighted ‘terrific examples’ of still white wines from the UK at this year’s awards; something to pay attention to when the full results are announced.

Poh Tiong Ch'ng at DWWA 2022

Poh Tiong Ch’ng, Regional Chair for Asia, at DWWA 2022 judging week. Photo credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave.

On the other side of the world, sparkling wine and still Chardonnay from China’s Ningxia region are styles to watch out for, said Poh Tiong Ch’ng, Regional Chair for Asia at DWWA 2022.

He also highlighted a medal-winning performance from Japanese Blaufränkisch, with ‘juicy cherry fruit wowing [judges] with equally ripe tannins – mainly from pips and skin  – and all the freshness only a cool climate can bestow’.

While DWWA offers opportunities for wine lovers to discover new styles and hitherto under-the-radar producers, the awards also shine a light on new developments and innovative winemaking even in some of the biggest producer-nations. 

Australia’s winemakers were understood to have put in a particularly strong performance at DWWA 2022.

‘It was evident that both the Barossa and McLaren Vale were really knocking it out of the park with many of their classic styles,’ said Justin Knock MW, joint Regional Chair for Australia alongside Huon Hooke. ‘So many of these wines are vibrant, succulent and enticingly balanced that they were a joy to judge.’

He also highlighted cool-climate Shiraz / Syrah from Adelaide Hills and Western Australia, and added that 2021-vintage Riesling was showing very well. ‘The Rieslings out of this vintage are everything one could hope them to be, classically made but with a tenderness on the palate that was absent for so long.’

Anthony Rose at DWWA 2022

Anthony Rose, Regional Chair for Southern Italy, at DWWA 2022. Photo credit: Nic Crilly-Hargrave.

Back in Europe, Anthony Rose, Regional Chair for Southern Italy at DWWA 2022, said there was a real sense of momentum across the area’s myriad styles. ‘This is my third year as panel chair for southern Italy and with each passing year, I enjoy the experience more, a reflection of the fact I think that the wines are getting better,’ he said.

He highlighted a host of top medals for dry white wines produced from a diverse array of grape varieties, ‘some well-known, such as Greco di Tufo, Fiano, Falanghina and Vermentino, others more obscure, such as Sicily’s Malvasia di Lipari and Costa d’Amalfi’s Ripolo, Ginestra and Fenile.’

The area covers Sardinia, Campania, Calabria, Basilicata, Puglia and Sicily.

Cameron Douglas MS, Regional Chair for New Zealand at DWWA 2022, said he was impressed by the purity of fruit and natural balance of many of the wines tasted during judging week.

Alongside outstanding Sauvignon Blanc and excellent Pinot Noir that evoked a real sense of place, Douglas pinpointed Chardonnay and Syrah as exciting styles to watch from New Zealand winemakers.

‘Chardonnay from New Zealand has without doubt earned its place in the wine cellars of Decanter readers,’ he said.

‘Syrah has a number of benchmarks around the world and I am hoping that more Decanter readers discover how juicy, taut and delicious New Zealand examples can be,’ he added.

Nearly 250 expert judges were involved in tasting wines at DWWA 2022, including many Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers.

It’s impossible to mention all of the styles that are worthy of attention in this article, but all the signs suggest this year’s DWWA promises to be one of the most fascinating to date.

Stay tuned for the full results and more commentary from our expert judges, with medal winners set to be announced on 7 June.


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See our highlights from the Platinum and Best in Show medal judging

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