They've been announced (on Tues 22nd September 2020): the winners of the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA20).
We're adding more as we find, source and import them ... 40+ wines so far...
Some 16,518 wines went under test this year and the whole field has now been rated; you can find the full results here.
Among all the many medals and awards in the big world of wine, these are the ones we most respect and admire. So, we find - based on the demand that follows these announcements - do you, the consumer.
We put that down to a couple of obvious factors, being:
- the sheer breadth and volume of wines tasted and rated; and
- the meticulous rigour of the judging mechanism.
That mechanism is worth a more detailed mention. In brief:
- each wine is tested by many experienced tasters to produce a clutch of the finest at that stage; these are the Gold medal winners (rated at 95 points or above);
- those Golds are then retested to form a shorter, refined list of the Platinum medals on 97 points or more.
- those Platinums are then all subject to a further re-test to reach a shortlist of the fifty Best In Show wines, these being the very best <0.5% of the field (in the eye of the judges).
There were 50 Bests in Show, 178 additional Platinums and 537 Golds.
There's full detail of that whole mechanism here or for a simple diagram of that mechanism, click the blue link below:
DWWA marks system explained
Below, we've listed - by award level - what we can offer (so far) among the Gold, Platinum and Best In Show prize-winners. At Silver and below, frankly, we haven't bothered. There are so many of these and we invariably find the customer asks him/herself: why would I buy these when I can get those in the upper levels?
The wines appear pictorally at the foot of the page, and you can click to investigate/buy as you feel. Each product page features that wine's DWWA20 review (taken from the DWWA20 website, featuring score and tasting note).
We will sound our usual notes of caution over such reviews. What the judges like may (well) not be what you like. And vice versa. There's a lot of subjectivity in any judging like this.
But these top-level wines are invariably very fine and very popular (be aware: UK stocks of some sold through in a few days last year!). Quite a few have sold out already - we make clear where this is so - partly as a result of their popularity and/or low supply, but partly because, owing to the delays with the DWWA process this year, vintages were already at their end when the results were announced.
Our other note of caution: be a touch wary of focussing only on the Bests In Show. It's that old The-Best-Is-The-Enemy-Of-The-Good problem (and here, read that as "Very Best" and "Extremely Good"). With 'only' 50 Best In Shows, it's obviously impossible for every region, grape variety, wine style etc to get a look-in, and the margins between 95, 96 and 97 points are very/vanishingly fine indeed. Last year, many of the very most popular wines were 'only' Gold awards. We stress this to the extent that we markedly hesitate to separate out these top three award levels!
For those still looking for winners of the last year (2019)'s DWWAs, click here.
Best In Show
It's fair to say that the 50 Best in Shows generally/overall this year feature a good many oddball wines and also some very pricey numbers indeed. Some, frankly, are just too expensive and/or leftfield! But where we think they'll catch the attention and imagination of the Exel customer, we offer them. There will be plenty more along very soon!
These invariably sell fast and sell out. Six months of from the awards, little remains. We
- previously offered the bulleted wines immediately below; and
- are listed as a stockist for them in the DWWA magazine supplement and on the DWWA site. Sadly, we (and the producers themselves) have soundly run out of these; no more stock of these wines is expected. They are/were:
However, we do still offer:
- OUT OF STOCK - MORE PENDING - This year's Particularly Classy White of DWWA20 offering from us is Gustave Lorentz's Riesling Grand Cu Riesling Altenberg de Bergheim 2016. I've been a serious fan of this wine for years (I've four vintages in the storeroom), from a rather underrated Alsace producer. It's"a wine with backbone and structure, yet which can still tease and charm as only Riesling knows how. That's what you'll find in this Grand Cru version from the celebrated Altenberg de Bergheim vineyard: its sunny, south-facing marls have produced a tender, intricate yet round-contoured version with scents of summer fruits and citrus peels, and limpid, vivacious flavours given gravity by a textured fullness and a little greensap at the finish. It's a dry wine, but not demandingly so, and would drink well with food or without."
- IN STOCK - It's great to see a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc make it into these hallowed ranks (both commercially for and given the broad appeal of that category): Yealands' L5 Single Block 2019 from the Awatere Valley. It's always been popular at Exel and, with a write-up like this from the DWWA20 panel, you can see why: "a full-frontal assault of vegetative and green-fruit splendour in this Awaretere Valley Sauvignon Blanc sets it apart as an indigenous style maxxed out to the full. You can smell it at three paces, and once in the mouth the wine is a kind of hand-grenade of springtime flowers and early-season fruits".
Plenty of these on offer; bear in mind they scored the same points as almost all of the Bests in Show!
Note, as we get started here, please note that the ultra-popular Journeys End Cape Doctor 2015 has now all sold out. It is also all gone in South Africa. However (first week of Feb), the 2016 vintage has now just arrived, and is much recommended.
- ALSO NEW - a dark wine from one of the Southern Rhone's hidden gem appellations - a Rasteau, no less, Domaine de Galuval's Inspiration 2018 - "opulent, inviting, with hints of deep, dark fruit and lifted, toasted herb aromas leading through to a luxurious palate with a deep, vibrant core, plush fruit and beautifully sculpted tannins. Powerful and imposing". Testing here echoes those sentiments. Arriving around March 10th.
- Klein Constantia's Vin de Constance 2016 - ALAS, NOW ALL GONE BUT THE 2017 VINTAGE HAS JUST ARRIVED - few customers will need telling that this is one of the world's most iconic and famous dessert wines. Less well-known is it that the 2015 is one of the finest VdCs of the last 20 years and that we have it at a stunning price (see that linked page for all the reviews and articles on ths wine; there's heaps!).
- Amalaya Malbec 2019 - serious value at just £11.80 - an Argentine Malbec of a quality that is consistently (every year) at least double the £ value of this wine. "Perfumed attractive nose with layers of spice, crunchy strawberries, ripe red plums and fresh violets. Vibrant on the palate with a lovely freshness in harmony with a dense chocolatey character, ending in an elegant spicy finish"
- Herdade do Peso Trinca Bolotas Alentejo Tinto 2018/19 - more serious value! Like the Monsaraz Best in Show above, another of those full-throttle, super-affordable Portuguese red blends, this one from Alentejo. Alas, the 2018 was the rated vintage but has sold out widely owing to the delay in the DWWA20s being announced. But the 2019 is no pale imitation. "A fabulous blend of fresh blackberry, tobacco and dark chocolate aromatics with enticing millefeuille tannins leavening the layers of red and black fruit compote which line the juicy palate; incredibly smooth and rich with a lingering, spicy finish."
- Ktima Biblia Chora Ovilos Semillion Assyrtiko 2019 - it's back! For the third year in a row, this has landed a Best in Show or Platinum. And rightly so. A brave and spectacular combination of two very diffent varietues produces this: "Expressive beeswax, lemon rind and lemon blossom bouquet. Complex and concentrated on the palate: a medley of citrus fruits, tropical mango and kumquat. This wine has a lovely waxy texture and a very long finish". Genuinely, a serious alternative to white Burgundy, this.
- Cantina Valle Isarco, Sylvaner Aristos, Alto Adige 2018 - ALL GONE, AT LEAST FOR NOW - it's the Sylvaner brother of that Alto Adige Best in Show above. "Delicate textbook Sylvaner with citrus, nectarine and berry aromas with notes of acacia and nutmeg. Dancing apple flavours, strong spice, mineral notes and lovely acidity; very well made wine that is rich yet fresh".
- Ghost Corner, Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - ALL GONE - a super-complex, ageable, cool-climate SB from South Afrca's Elim region, and an intense and unusual one at that. "Ripe apples with gooseberry and delicate creamy oak aromas. Fine weighting, a full mouthfeel and concentrated refreshing acidity on the palate. A very long finish with zingy lemon feel. Classy and elegant."
- Premier Cru Chablis? Like the sound of "stylish oyster shell and iodine mine ral notes underpinned by an attractive floral poise; vibrant and pure with a lavish fruit profile and generous, rich weightiness, all rounded off with a complex salty freshness"? We recommend Domaine Natalie & Gilles Fevre, Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent 2018.
- Masciarelli, Marina Cvetic Iskra Riserva, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2016 - ALL GONE - now this is a rare beast indeed ... and categorically not your everyday Montepulciano. This is a cru/DOCG Md'A from Abruzzo's finest. "Complex and intriguing nose of black plums and dark cherries seasoned by dried herbs and sweet clove spice. Powerful tannins with a chalky texture and a juicy fruit concentration balanced by a refreshing acidity."
- Sonberk, Noble Rot Riesling 2017 - ALL GONE - we had to create a whole new country code here, for this is a glorious late harvest Riesling from the Czech Republic, albeit only just over the border from top Riesling areas in Austria. "Very complex and elegant nose of white truffle, pineapple, lemon curd with earthy and waxy nose. Multi dimensional wine with a superb structure and harmony among its lively acidity and soft sweetness. Fresh and elegant." For a superb but drier Riesling, see Sonberk's Gold-winning Riesling.
- Devaux D de Devaux 2008 - "This is cerebral, accomplished and compulsively drinkable. Kudos!". In our view, this is glorious, upper-flight Champagne from a lesser-known but outstanding producer.
- Dobogo, Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 2013 - we're asked for Tokaji - that finest of all dessert wines - a greal deal. Great to see one fare well here: this is absolutely top-flight. "Complex and expressive on the nose, displaying scents of cinnamon, fresh mango, lime zest and savoury notes. On the palate it has a zippy acidity with layers of complex flavours. Super vibrant finish."
- Donnafugata Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria 2017 - this Southern Mediterranean gem - a perennial DWWA-topper - is back yet again. Alas, given the delays in DWWA this year, the judged-and-awarded 2017 vintage was long gone in the UK before the results were out. We offer the 2018, and, in our view, it's just as good; given the Best in Show/Platinum track record of ths wine in its previous vintages, who'd bet against this vintage being a topper next year (just as it runs out again...)? It's always amazing, but never cheap (fortunately also available in half-bottles for the bugetarily conscious!). Of that 2017:"Seductively rich, crystallised peach nose, then an equally concentrated, rich, peachy fruit palate with hints of orange marmalade. The palate is round, viscous and has great intensity of fruit. This is as good as it gets!"
Always a happy hunting ground, the Golds. Here there's every style and you're into top wines all the way. And there's a fleet of favourite-category reds.
NB: The Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Sauvignon Blanc 2019 has alas now all gone. We do offer its brother, the Clifford Bay, a very top winner at IWC 2020.
We set off into the Golds with a wine that was Best In Show last year and is, in our view and that of the winemaker, even better this year (make of that what you will). It is
- Bergerie du Capucin, Larmanela rouge, Pic St Loup 2017 - we went out on a limb a couple of months ago with this. With supplies running low in Languedoc (little is made), we speculated that it would again do well at DWWA (Best in Show last year) and implored Exel customers to buy-before-it-goes. We sigh with relief today. As big Old World Syrahs go, this is right up there. "Exquisite smoky black fruit, kirsch and sweet vanilla oak interwoven with rosemary and thyme herbal characters; serious and concentrated with ripe tannins and a delightful contrasting freshness." We also have stock of the Larmanela's little (and more inexpensive) brother, the Dame Jeanne 2018, itself a Silver medal winner with a review thus: "Perfumed mulberry and rich spice with a core of mineral character running throughout; with ripe tannins and a long finish").
Then there's a a fascinating trio of Gran Reservas from CVNE (also known as Cune, "cooh-nuh"). Three different ranges, three diferent vintages, three different price points from ~£17 to ~£45. All Gold and all glorious!
- CVNE, Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja 2012 - (96 points) - this is the super-flagship of CVNE and alays brilliant - "Glorious and typical fine oak, raspberry and cherry charm on the nose. Bright in the palate, definitely showing signs of its maturity, with softer tannins and refined leather notes. Long finish".
- CVNE, Cune Gran Reserva 2013 - this is the value contender of the the three at just £17.50 for a top-rated Gran Reserva! "Exotic black fruit and mocha nose. Palate is well structured, compact and rich with well-integrated oak, gentle tannins and notes of caramel and orange. Appetising, impressively long black fruit finish. A superb release".
- CVNE, Vina Real Gran Reserva 2014 - (now arrived) - "Evocative dark berry, chocolate, ripe red fruit and black pepper bouquet. The palate has plenty of rich, classy, well-integrated new oak and a wild herb undertone. A stunning wine with fantastic ageing potential".
And, beyond Rioja, we have:
- Poggio al Sole, Syrah 2017 - ALL GONE - It's a Super-Tuscan Syrah, if you get our drift. And a great hybrid of the plushness of Syrah and the angularity of Tuscany it is, too. "Savoury, focused and long, with fascinating salt and toast layers over exotic spice, tapenade, ripe raspberry and polished leather, wrapped in silky tannins".
- Protos 27, 2017 - Yay! (if we may say so). How very happy are we to see this here? We've championed this excellent Ribera del Duero for 4 years (and are the only UK outlet). Affordable Ribera is a tricky thing to find, even more so when it's this approachable. "Wonderful raisin, creamy vanilla, caramel and cherry aromatics. Bright orange peel fruit on the palate where a lick of sassy vanillan oak and grippy tannin stamps added authority. It's long, distinguished and eminently food-friendly".
- Poggio al Tesoro, Il Seggio Bolgheri 2017 - ALL GONE, 2018 VINTAGE NOW AVAILABLE - another returnee to DWWA's top scores - this Tuscan/Bolgheri Bordeaux blend is always here or hereabouts and offers great Super-Tuscan value for money. "Beguiling scents of fennel, mushroom, hedgerow fruit and plums, leading on to a complex, vibrant palate of seamless tannins around dark chocolate, sweet spices, plums and bright blue fruit."
- The BIG but beautifully-made Chilean red blend from the Cachapoal region, the Sideral 2018 by San Pedro. This is some wine for £18.95. "Bright blackberry fruit with hints of black pepper and stone. Juicy cassis on the palate with vibrancy and structure. Classy and long finish with generous fruit".
- Gerard Bertrand, Chateau l'Hospitalet Grand Vin (rouge), La Clape 2018 - a rare red from one of the new crus of Languedoc and from one of that region's very finest producers. Many of Bertrands wines are beyond the average pocket, but this isn't so very unaffordable. especially for a grand vin. "Fabulous smoky liquorice, molasses and tar contrast beautifully with lush bright fruit characters; enticing and persistent with a mouthwatering texture and a long, powerful finish".
- Kaiken Obertura Cabernet Franc 2017 - South American Cabernet Franc? Yes, please. The Obertura, from Argentina's Uco Valley, topped a South American Icon Reds panel a year ago and remains brilliant in its new vintage. Not everyone 'gets' Cab Franc; for those people, this is a great way to do so.
- Esporao, Reserva White 2018 - SHORT STOCK GAP UNTIL EARLY MARCH - "A stunning blend of aromatic orange bitters, rich honeyed citrus and desiccated pineapple, with a soft, crunchy texture and a persistent note of peppery grapefruit on the finish"... just the sort of thing you're looking for in a bold, £~15 Portuguese white blend.
- There's more Greeks - stunning and attractively-priced whites, both - in the form of both the Viognier and the Malgousia/Assyrtiko white blend - both multi-time medal and previous high-level DWWA winners - from Ktima Gerovassilou of the Epanomi region.
- Cuatro Pasos, Mencía DO Bierzo 2017 - another serious value pick. There aren't many DWWA20 95-pointers for just over a tenner but this Galician Mencia is one such. "Scintillating Mencía! Sappy red cherry joins black plums on an approachable, fleshy and plump palate. Good value for such an interesting, concentrated wine. Absurd value, too."