A Preview of Decanter 2017

by Caroline Gilby MW

Sometimes it seems that the world of wine competitions hands out gold medals like sweets, but in the same way that winning at school sports day is a long way from winning at the Olympics, not all gold medals glitter in the same way.

Undoubtedly, Decanter World Wine Awards has cemented its place as the world’s leading wine competition and, clearly many wine producers feel the cost of entry is worthwhile. This year’s competition saw entry numbers reach their highest ever at around 17,200.

Last year Decanter changed its scoring criteria and finally moved to a 100-point scoring system so producers get their score along with their medal. The grade boundaries are high compared to other events – a silver is 90 to 94 points, and a gold is 95 and above. A bronze medal still scores a very respectable 86 to 89 points, and a commended wine is 83 to 85 points. Compare this to OIV rules, where a gold medal is awarded to any wine scoring 85 or more. Another key difference with Decanter judging is that it is based on consensus rather than averaging marks – so every judge (all of whom have been checked out for tasting ability and regional experience) has the chance to argue for a wine where they perceive something special. And any wine that receives a medal score or commendation gets to keep it – unlike many competitions where there is an arbitrary cut-off so a maximum of 30% to 40% of wines can win a medal (which potentially rules out many good wines, especially as wine making gets better).

Full results for Decanter World Wine awards 2017 will appear on-line in early June but I’d like to highlight some of the overall Hungarian trends. Tokaj as ever was the superstar category. A stellar flight of 6 Puttonyos Aszú all picked up gold or silver medals, mostly from the brilliant 2013 vintage. And we did ask co-chair Gerard Bassett MW MS OBE to double check that we weren’t being over enthusiastic. There were some good gold medals for Tokaji across all styles from dry to Szamorodni too. Outside Tokaji, it was Riesling from Badacsony which was a surprise gold medal winner.   More details next time.