From Oz Clarke to Matt Skinner, Huon Hooke to Stephen Brook, the world’s most celebrated wine critics have descended on south west London to judge thousands of wines at the Decanter World Wine Awards.
Flying in from Singapore to San Francisco, Germany, Italy, Australia and all points between, wine writers, critics, sommeliers, winemakers, restaurateurs and wine merchants have gathered to taste the 7,642 wines entered for the awards.
Now in its fourth year, the number of entries has grown year on year: the 2007 figure is a 21% increase on last year.
The 160 judges, including one of the biggest single gatherings of MWs anywhere in the world, comprise some of the biggest names in the international wine world.
The panels include Michael Hill-Smith of Adelaide Hills winery Shaw & Smith, Huon Hooke of the Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Nixson of British Airways, Ch’ng Poh Tiong, publisher of the Singapore Wine Review and a Decanter columnist, James Lawther MW, Andrew Jefford, Stephen Brook, Richard Mayson, John Radford and other high-profile wine professionals.
In a speech opening the Awards this morning, Decanter’s consultant editor Steven Spurrier, who is overall chairman of the event, said the number of awards over the last three years showed total consistency.
‘In 2005 there were 5,200 wines and we gave 61% of them awards. Of those, 3% were gold, 12% silver, 25% bronze and 21% commended. In 2006, out of 6,300 entries we gave 61% awards. Of those, 3% were gold, 13% silver, 25% bronze and 20% commended.’
He added, ‘The fact we have had a 21% increase in entries shows the confidence that producers around the world – and the UK wine merchants – have in the Decanter World Wine Awards.’
Sarah Kemp, Decanter’s publishing director and founder of the Decanter World Wine Awards, said, ‘We feel that the increase in the entries and the fact that we are able, year after year, to attract the world’s greatest wine critics, demonstrates the seriousness and importance of the Awards.’
Tom Stevenson, regional chair for Champagne, said one of the most successful aspects of the Decanter World Wine Awards was the fact regional chairs chose their own panels.
‘It means you are able to choose people for their abilities and experience – people you know have the best record for expertise within their field.’
Gearoid Devaney, chief sommelier at Tom Aikens in London, said, ‘It’s great to meet and work with so many experts. The tasting system means that there is always a balance with the chairman having the final call.’
The results of the Decanter World Wine Awards will be released, initially to the wine trade only at the London International Wine and Spirits Fair on 22 May, and in the October issue of Decanter magazine, out on 5 September.
Pictured: Oz Clarke and Steven Spurrier, Monday 23 April 2007
Written by Adam Lechmere