We speak with our Head of Wine and DWWA Regional Chair for the USA, Ronan Sayburn MS
Now in its 16th year, the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) is the world’s largest wine competition with over 17,500 wines to be scored. They assemble a considerable array of judges – many with MS or MW qualifications, plus respected wine makers, wine merchants and recognised wine writers from all over the world. It’s quite an impressive sight to see.
I have been judging since 2004 and have seen the World Wine Awards grow to become the world’s most influential and highly respected competition. The wines are obviously tasted blind, but the countries, regions, grape varieties, alcohol levels and price bands are revealed. This year I was the Regional Chair for the USA; having written a few pieces about California for Decanter recently, I must have been deemed ready for this responsibility!
We had two panels a day over three days with around 100+ wines per panel so about 700 wines from the USA in total. 4 people per panel discussed the merits of each wine and graded them into Commended, Bronze, Silver and Gold. About 30 wines were awarded Gold. Opinions can vary but with 4 people per panel, discussions are usually good-humoured and the best wines recognised.
For the second week, a selection of regional judges come back to confirm Gold quality and look for the best Golds that are then awarded Platinum status, a few of these get put forward to Wine of Show.
The level of organisation from Decanter is extraordinary as there is no waiting for possibly faulty wines to be replaced, the next flight to be poured or new glasses to be brought. With a friendly team of Decanter ‘red’ shirts on hand it’s like watching a formula one team in action, leaving the judges to concentrate on what is in the glass. A world-class operation.