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What the judges say...
This is my fifth year of tasting and the standard is higher than it’s ever been. There’s much more regional diversity this year. There’s some real strength in the mid price brackets. Chardonnay is looking really good – there’s a whole new wave of Chardonnays that are really elegant. The oak is nicely restrained. The strongest category is invariably Shiraz and it’s hard to hold back from giving golds. It’s a very well run competition. The quality level is very strong and the quality of the judges is also very high, with an excellent mixture of expertise – technical experience from the likes of Michael Hill Smith
and the cream of the UK trade. You get the best of both worlds, which brings out very good results.
David Gleave MW
I’ve been tasting Burgundy 2006’s. There have been some really nice wines especially the top reds today. The top appellacion’s really show their strength in the less good vintages. The reds of the Cote du Nuits were the stand outs – the Chambertins and the Gevrey Chambertins. The Chablis were less impressive.
Beverley Blanning MW
The average quality has been higher in previous years, which is great to see. Winemakers in Chile are starting to have more appreciation for the subtleties of wine and are easing back and not trying too hard. We’ve had some white and Syrah has been outstanding even at the low levels.
Pinot Noir is the grape of the future for Chile, it can do Pinot like not many New World countries can. The Syrah’s are also being made in a wonderful peppery restrained style that has the rest of the New World frightened.
I’ve been tasting wines from the US, mostly from California and some from Washington State. The highlights have been better Syrahs. Syrah is very up-and-coming in America and a lot of winemakers are trying to make their wines in a Rhone-style rather than the big Australian style, which is a good thing.
Highlights for me have been in the Chardonnays, certainly in the higher priced Chardonnays. There are some really interesting new styles. In the Cabernets we had a couple of beauties – modern, fruit driven and beautifully structured. There’s real evolution going on in a lot of the Australian styles. It’s a highly disciplined show with a strong panel structure.
I was surprised by the good quality of a lot of the Languedoc-Rousillon wines under ten pounds. This is a fair tasting with very good judges. We can speak freely and make a fair judgment on each wine. It’s very interesting to confront English and French tastes.
I’ve been judging Asian wines, predominantly from the Middle East and China. I found the sparkling wines extremely well made, they have improved tremendously from previous experiences. Also the quality of the red wines from the Middle East, particularly Israel is extremely high.
It’s really enriching interacting with judges from different parts of the world. It’s a real learning curve for me. This is my third year, and particularly with Asia, we have never had that large a spectrum of wines judged in one event as we do at the DWWA. It’s extremely well organized despite the vast number of wines involved. It’s top class, there is no better event in terms of wines being judged. It is so organized there is very little more for the judges to do other than tasting and scoring the wines.
We were a bit disappointed with some of the non-vintage Champagnes but we had a huge amount of gold medals on the vintage Champagnes, which were really showing the intensity and complexity we would expect from Champagne. The rosé Champagnes were a positive surprise. Because of the higher demand for rosé Champagne, the quality has got higher.
This is my first time tasting at the awards, and I hope it won’t be my last. It’s a great opportunity to taste alongside Tom Stevenson and the rest of my panel
Essi Avellan MW
‘The DWWA is very well organised and being seated to judge is important. The location is light and airy, which is also good. Pinot Noir was a notable highlight, but it was the other reds – cabernet sauvignon/merlot blends and the rapidly rising star of syrah which were the more worthy categories.’
Sally Easton MW
‘This year (my 5th time) in the DWWA has proven so far to be the best. The environment becomes more and more friendly and international each year, allowing judges to taste in the most comfortable and professional situation possible. This allows judges to listen to each other carefully which as a result means ‘listening’ to the wines more carefully than in any other judging competition. No single bottle of wine is let go without a serious assessment by at least three people. Regional experts, MWs and Sommeliers get together in the most delightful and open minded manner.’
‘I would like to congratulate the Decanter team for the excellent and efficient organisation of the competition. The Decanter World Wine Awards has become, in a very short time, one of the most significant events of its type and is regarded with respect by the professionals. The 2005 Baux-de-Provence reds offered complexity, elegance and length, while the Madiran, Irouleguy and Cahors yielded a good crop of Bronze and Silver medals. The 2005 vintage certainly stands out for its complexity, concentrated ripe fruit and elegance.’