After a challenging year for the global wine industry, there’s finally reason to raise a glass!
22nd September 2020: There’s perhaps never been a time the global wine industry has been so hard hit, but the world’s largest and most influential wine competition is giving reason to celebrate with the release of its 2020 results. After completing judging under strict Covid safety guidelines that included innovations such as proximity lanyards and bespoke disposable spittoons, the Decanter World Wine Awards has today announced its 2020 winners.
Now in its 17th year, the 2020 competition has seen a rise in successes from lesser-known wine producing regions such as the South & Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans, which showcased their impressive quality and value for money. Classic regions in France, Italy, Spain, the USA, and Australia once again performed well.
During the judging month, 116 expert wine judges including 37 Masters of Wine and nine Master Sommeliers, tasted and debated the merits of 16,518 wines from 56 countries. Only a total of 50 (a mere 0.3% of all wines entered) were awarded the highly sought-after accolade of “Best in Show”. Two of these wines came from Moldova, whose historic wines are now starting to make their way onto the global stage, with Asconi’s Sol Begru Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2019 and Viorica de Purcari 2019, made with 100% Viorica, a local variety considered the symbol of Moldovan white wine. A further 178 wines were awarded with a Platinum medal and 537 with Gold from the 2020 competition.
The UK wine industry enjoyed another successful year with entries up 7% compared to 2019 and 155 wines submitted awarded with a medal. Two wineries won the ultimate award of Best in Show, both whites,one a sparkling and the other still. In West Sussex, Roebuck Estate won for its Classic Cuvée Brut 2014, and Simpsons’ The Roman Road Chardonnay 2018 picked up its first Best in Show after receiving a Silver last year for its 2017 vintage. In addition, three Platinum, five Gold, 94 Silver and 46 Bronze medals were awarded.
Other result highlights from the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards include:
- France continued to dominate the awards, achieving 3,137 medals in total, and the highest number of Best in Shows. Exceptional quality wines hailed from Champagne, Alsace, Provence, Loire, Bordeaux and Burgundy, picking up 12 Best in Show between them. Wines from the increasingly popular Languedoc-Roussillon were also awarded five Platinum and 21 Gold.
- South Africa celebrated with one Best in Show, four Platinum and 31 Gold medals, with overall medal results up 16% compared to 2019 and 2018.
- Greece picked up 259 medals, 61% of which were awarded to white wines, including one Best in Show, five Platinum and ten Gold. The medals were dominated by indigenous white grape varieties, including the highly prized Assyrtiko as well as lesser-known varieties such as Vidiano and Malagousia.
- Italy demonstrated its breadth of quality wine production, collecting 2,765 medals – 16% more than last year. This included eight Best in Shows coming largely from the classic regions of Tuscany and Piedmont as well as Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, where the lesser-known grape varieties of Kerner and Lagrein were highly praised. In addition, Italy was awarded 37 Platinum, 82 Gold, 933 Silver and 1,669 Bronze medals.
- South Korea entered the 2020 awards for the first-time, as did Indonesia, which picked up a Silver medal for a dry Muscat and two Bronze for sparkling wines.
- Croatia had a successful year, receiving three Platinum and 11 Gold medals
- Building on previous successes, China won 120 medals and the country’s growing taste and domestication of sweet wine, particularly Icewine and late harvest styles, has led to notable medal wins, including one Platinum, three Golds and six Silver.
- Other countries that performed well include Georgia (one Best in Show, two Platinum, three Gold), Bolivia, who after winning just one Bronze last year picked up four Silver medals for its red wines, Israel, doubling its number of Gold medals in 2020, receiving six Golds for Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah blends. and Serbia, receiving its first Platinum medal since the 2014 competition, plus three Gold and 26 Silver medals.
- Finally, Czech Republic and Luxembourg, despite their small geographical landmass, both received more medals than previous years, with Czech Republic awarded two Platinum, four Gold, 27 Silver and 79 Bronze. Luxembourg received two Gold and five Silver.
Andrew Jefford, Co-Chair says, “The Decanter World Wine Awards really helps producers to raise their profile internationally. It can do the same for wine-producing regions and nations, too. Our judging system – including re-tasting of all Golds, with possible promotion to Platinum – is something we are very proud of. We explain it as often as we can. So, when consumers see a DWWA sticker on a bottle, be it Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze, they can be reassured that the wine in question has been judged by regional experts and specialists before receiving its medal. We discuss, we argue, we fight it out…that’s all part of the judging fun. Even with social distancing! But that’s also how you get the results which have made the DWWA an international wine benchmark.”
After much uncertainty on whether the awards could take place this year, Decanter was meticulous in its approach and innovation to ensure the judging went ahead, introducing strict safety measures that were put in place, including temperature checks on the door, PPE for all judges and staff, disposable spittoons with antibacterial powder that solidifies with liquid and is later incinerated with other hazardous waste, proximity tags worn on lanyards that vibrate when you are less than two metres from another person, and isolated tasting areas with designated facilities.
Co-Chair Sarah Jane Evans MW comments, “The competition has been terrific, it has been a perfect atmosphere to taste and judge this year. After months of lockdown and uncertainty everyone has been delighted to be back again, working together, sharing ideas and thoughts, and above all, focused on picking out the great wines from this year. There have been some wonderful discoveries. As ever the Best in Show day was tough, narrowing down to 50 top wines”.
A full list of winners can be viewed online at http://awards.decanter.com/DWWA
Photo: Nic Crilly-Hargrave