Full results from the Decanter World Wine Awards 2021 have just been released, revealing big wins for established wine regions but also many hidden gems from producers making exciting wines across the globe.
According to the competition organizer, this year marks “the biggest ever” Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA), which is described as “the world’s largest and most influential wine competition” thanks to a rigorous judging process overseen by international experts.
More than 160 expert judges, including 44 Masters of Wine and 11 Master Sommeliers, tasted 18,094 wines from 56 countries at DWWA 2021, making it a record year for wines tasted.
Judging took place over two weeks in Canary Wharf, London, with strict Covid-19 safety protocols in place.
Only 50 wines, or 0.28% of those tasted, were awarded a prestigious “Best in Show” medal. There were also 179 Platinum and 635 Gold medals awarded, making up 0.99% and 3.51% respectively of the total wines tasted.
Spain had a particularly strong year, winning nine Best in Show medals, compared to four last year. Spanish wines also won 20 Platinum medals and 63 Golds this year.
China surprisingly achieved a record number of 156 medals at this year’s competition with one white wine from the country’s oldest winery Changyu Pioneer Wine Company winning a coveted Platinum.
Changyu AFIP A8 Chardonnay 2018 vintage from the country’s capital Beijing was awarded a Platinum, by far the best performing white wine for any Chinese winery at Decanter.
There were also plenty of other outstanding medal-winning wines from other top wine-producing countries and regions, from California to many parts of France, Italy, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Chile and New Zealand.
DWWA has a track record of shining a spotlight on exciting, under-the-radar wines all over the wine world, too – and 2021 proved no exception.
DWWA 2021: A year of firsts
DWWA 2021 included a first Best in Show medal for a ‘Vin Jaune’ – or ‘yellow wine’ – a speciality of the Jura region of eastern France. The winning wine was Domaine Berthet-Bondet, Château-Chalon 2013, made from 100% Savagnin.
DWWA 2021 judges included in their tasting notes, “If you’ve never tried Vin Jaune, you couldn’t do better than begin with this 2013.
“Pale but emphatically gold, it has aromas which evoke nuts, wild mushrooms, umami, yeast and cream, but in which some lingering sweetness of fruit survives, too (Savagnin for Vin Jaune is picked very ripe).”
There was also success in Switzerland for the Savagnin grape variety, not to be confused with the similarly named Sauvignon Blanc.
Wine cooperative St. Jodern Kellerei in the Valais region already farms some of Europe’s highest vineyards, and it reached the summit of DWWA in 2021 after its ‘Heida Barrique’ 2019 won a Best in Show medal.
Judges said in their notes on the wine, “Heida is the name used in the high Valais (or Wallis) for Savagnin, and our judges were very impressed by the range and expressive uniqueness of Swiss Savagnin this year.”
They added, “This is a refreshingly aromatic yet full-flavoured wine, striking and singular: a horn sounding in the clear Alpine air.”
DWWA 2021 also saw a first Best in Show medal for France’s Savoie region, awarded to a 100% Roussanne white wine from Domaine Charles Gonnet for the 2020 vintage.
Friuli in north-east Italy made its debut in the DWWA Best in Show winners’ list, thanks to Muzic winery’s Stare Brajde ‘Collio’ 2019 white wine.
There were also two Golds for Ukraine, the first time the country has struck Gold at DWWA.
Sarah Jane Evans, Co-Chair at DWWA 2021, said of the results, “You know that this is something that’s been through a really rigorous judging process. We’re not playing at judging here. This is blind tasting. We have absolutely no idea what the wines are and we’re tasting them not only in panels together where we have to each discuss and think about them deeply, but then they go up to Regional Chairs who are experts in those countries.”
She added, “It’s a very, very rigorous process, but it highlights fabulous wines at the end of it.”
Andrew Jefford, also a DWWA Co-Chair, said, “DWWA is the world’s leading wine competition. I’m absolutely thrilled to take part in it every year because having tasted in a number of other competitions I know how well it’s organised, how carefully everything is done. So if you get a medal from DWWA it really is worth having and everybody respects it internationally. We get entries from every corner of the wine world, so it is as it were the closest you can get to a universal benchmark.”
More highlights from DWWA 2021
Noteworthy highlights include two Best in Show medals for German Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, showcasing the country’s ability to make top wines with these classic Burgundian grape varieties. A 2011-vintage English sparkling wine also won a Best in Show medal.
In terms of more unexpected wins, in North America, there was a Gold medal for a New York Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon blend produced in the North Fork of Long Island AVA, while in Canada Niagara Peninsula winery Hidden Bench won a Best in Show medal for its Felseck Vineyard Chardonnay 2018.
Russia won its second ever Platinum medal, while wines from Japan won two Platinums and four Gold medals.
Classic styles from well-known areas also performed extremely well at DWWA 2021, demonstrating why they enjoy such vaunted reputations among wine lovers.
The list of Best in Show medals includes Champagne, California Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, Barossa Valley Shiraz and Margaret River Chardonnay from Australia, Rioja Gran Reserva from the lauded 2004 vintage, South African Cabernet Sauvignon, Vinho Verde from Portugal and Malbec from Argentina.
Excitement surrounding the Barolo 2016 vintage in Italy’s Piedmont region was given a further boost after Diego Morra’s ‘Monvigliero’ 2016 was awarded a Best in Show medal.
In total, Italy won seven Best in Show medals, also including Prosecco and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG wines, as well as a Timorasso dry white from Piedmont and a Vin Santo di Carmignano sweet wine from Tuscany.
Some Best in Show awards went to lesser-known styles from top producer nations. New Zealand is renowned for Sauvignon Blanc but it was Tohu’s ‘Whenua Matua’ Chardonnay 2018 that won a Best in Show medal at DWWA 2021. Chile’s La Causa, Cinsault-País-Carignan 2019 from Itata Valley also received this top accolade.
Elsewhere, Greece narrowly beat its strong performance at last year’s competition. A Greek Assyrtiko white wine won a Best in Show medal, and the country received six Platinum and 16 Gold medals at DWWA 2021 overall.
Visit https://awards.decanter.com/DWWA to view a full list of winners.