Already the world’s largest wine competition, Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) continues to grow annually – the last edition seeing a record 18,250 wines judged from 57 countries.
‘It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that if the wine world does have a sort of unique benchmark, it might well be DWWA,’ said co-chair Andrew Jefford.
‘If you enter DWWA you know that there will be wines from all over the world in the competition’ Jefford added. ‘You know they will be judged against their peers, in their cultural context, by experts versed in that field. So we think we deliver the best possible judging job we can do. And after that, you have your chance to perform on the world stage.’
Hundreds of the world’s leading wine experts are recruited yearly to judge at DWWA with professional backgrounds encompassing all areas of the trade from Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine to buyers, winemakers, retailers, distributors, educators, writers and consultants. Assessing wines in panels of three or four, these different backgrounds are important to provide outcomes that reflect trusted, independent decisions.
‘The judging process I think is very fair and that’s what I enjoy’ said DWWA judge Élyse Lambert MS. ‘We have the information to be able to evaluate the wine, the price category in which it’s found, the appellation, the percentage of alcohol, the residual sugar. All this information is very valuable when you evaluate the wine to understand where it’s coming from and to understand if it’s typical and has a sense of place, which most of the time is what we’re looking for.
‘I really like that we’re a panel of people open to discussion and arguing on some wines, defending our views and making it better, at the end of the day, for the end consumer.’
Regional chair for the Rhône, Matt Walls added, ‘What I think is important about judging wines blind is that you can’t see the label; you don’t know who the producer is so you can’t go on reputation. It’s really just the wine in the glass, so all of the wines are treated equally, which for me is important.
‘I think producers should enter DWWA because the wines are treated equally, because it’s a blind tasting, because the judges are some of the best in the world. It’s a very fair, very well run awards competition.’
The 2024 competition will see the return of co-chairs Jefford, Sarah Jane Evans MW, Ronan Sayburn MS and Michael Hill Smith AM MW alongside an esteemed line-up of 37 regional chairs and over 200 judges.
New regional chairs for 2024 include Michaela Morris for Piedmont, Charles Curtis MW for Champagne (as well as returning chair for Burgundy) and a new, third, regional chair for Balkans, Caucasus & Eurasia, to be announced soon.
New for 2024
Recognising inflation and higher costs, price bands, unique to the DWWA judging process, have been updated to reflect prices consumers see in shops, online and at cellar doors to:
- Price band A – up to £14.99 (Value)
- Price band B – £15 to £24.99
- Price band C – £25 to £49.99
- Price band D – £50 to £99.99
- Price band E – £100+
Categorisation of tasting flights is done by country, region, colour, grape, style, vintage and price point to ensure wines are judged against their peers, and quality awarded in relation to price point.
‘I think it makes a much more level playing field for all entered wines. This really means that we can very, very fairly pick out the best of those styles, from those certain regions, in those grape varieties. It’s the only fair way to do it,’ said co-chair Ronan Sayburn MS.
‘If you’re trying to recommend wine to a customer, one of the first things they may be looking at is how much it’s going to cost them. When judging, it’s important to know the price band to evaluate if customers are getting value for money within that price band,’ he added.
Introduced in 2023, wines in alternative packaging are again eligible to enter the 2024 competition with added features to the results site to search these newer formats. In its first year, wines packaged in bag-in-box emerged as the frontrunner with 19 medals awarded, including two 90-point wines.
As the category continues to grow, DWWA looks forward to tracking quality advancements in the sector.
Also new for 2024, wine samples for judging will be accepted at leading international trade fair ProWein in addition to Wine Paris & Vinexposium Paris, aiding complexities and costs associated with shipping to the UK. Within the UK, DWWA is working with The Big Fortified Tasting to offer sample delivery at the event, appealing to a category the judges cherish.
‘I always think that consumers are missing out on the absolute joy of Sherry, of Madeira, of those fortified wines, because they are spectacular,’ said co-chair Michael Hill Smith AM MW. ‘They might be out of fashion at the moment, but they are brilliant. They’re individual, they’re unique, and they offer extraordinarily good value.’
Introducing the DWWA UK Market Guide
Exclusively for DWWA 2024 medal winners, and in response to entrant feedback, Decanter has introduced the UK Market Guide – a buying guide for buyers, importers and distributors in the UK to list and sell award-winning wines not yet available in the UK market.
Medal winners will be invited to have their award-winning wines listed on the guide with Decanter compiling key information buyers need to make informed decisions on new wine listings. Shared to leading buyers, distributors and importers in the UK, this one-stop-shop guide of quality-awarded wines will help facilitate producer-buyer conversations for those seeking representation in the UK market.
Why enter Decanter World Wine Awards? Find out more in our entry pack
Key dates for 2024
15 March 2024
Entry, payment and delivery deadline
6-18 May 2024
DWWA 2024 judging
19 June 2024
DWWA 2024 results announced on Decanter.com