They've recently been announced (on Weds 7th July 2021): the winners of the 2021 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA21).
We're adding more as we find, source and import them ... watch this space as it grows rapidly! We offer some 40+ top winners below.
Some 18,094 wines went under test this year and the whole field has now been rated; you can find the full results here and the headlines 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; and then
- 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, 179 additional Platinums and 635 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 Golds, Platinums and Bests In Show account for less than 5% of all wines tasted.
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 DWWA21 review (taken from the DWWA21 website and 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!).
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 (2020)'s DWWAs, click here.
Best In Show
These invariably sell fast and sell out. Two (maximum three) months from the award announcements, little typically remains of these. Do not unduly delay! We offer seven Bests in Show so far...
- Just arrived is a wine a little off the beaten track but somewhat electric in its impact. We've recently seen a surge for younger, more vibrant reds (such as this) ... the superb Matilda Nieves 2020 from Bodegas Rectoral de Amandi in Galicia's Ribeira Sacra DO is the apotheosis of that category. It's also a Value Best in Show and a brilliant buy at just £13.50. DWWA21 couldnt get enough of it: "here it is, dark, fresh and thrillingly aromatic from first sniff to last swallow. This limpid, unoaked wine is made from the Mencia grape variety (known as Jaen in Portugal) plus a little Garnacha and Souson, and the emphasis is on its sloe, bramble and damson fruits in all their primary glory, almost as if it had been run from the vats just a week or two earlier. The palate is soft-textured, mouth-filling, exuberant and comely, structured more prominently by acidity than tannin, though that acidity is sweet and juicy in its own right. There is nothing at all sharp or hard about this tender, almost lip-smacking red … yet the variety itself, and the legacy of its austere, granite-soiled origins, somehow contrive to stop the wine tasting simple". Out of stock (7th Sep) but more has now left Galicia, bound for us; expected end of September, perhaps a few days before. We continue to take orders for its arrival.
- A big mention for a Right Bank Bordeaux from lofty Pomerol: the Chateau Croix des Rouzes 2018. To find any Pomerol for £29.95 these days is quite a coup; to find a DWWA Best in Show Pomerol for that is almost criminal (it's a direct import, you see)! It's more ready a glass of wine than you might imagine, as the DWWA21 panel pointed out: "A bottle or a glass of Pomerol should always be a treat -- and this one is. It’s still a dark black-purple in colour, as you’d expect from the supremely generous 2018 vintage, with svelte, sweetly defined fresh plum and black cherry fruits billowing from the glass. On the palate, it is concentrated and deep with ample black fruit flavours (more plum than cherry now), sustaining though unforced acidity and plenty of ripe skin tannins in soft, tongue-coating style. This amiable, affable and ample wine is open and welcoming already -- indeed it’s hard to resist. But there’d be no harm, either, in keeping it for up to a decade: there’s plenty in its rucksack, and much fun to be had along the way." Out of stock; alas now all gone here and in Bdx.
- The Value Bests in Show feature some unusual but superb grape varieties this year. That's exemplified by Casa Setaro's Piedirosso Fuocoallegro Piedirosso Vesuvio 2019, which, as the name suggests, hails from the slopes of the famous volcano in Campania. DWWA21 said, "The Piedirosso variety is a Vesuvian native - and a perfect example of the many indigenous varieties in Europe previously dismissed for being over-light or inadequately showy, but which are now finding favour, thanks to a global wine aesthetic which increasingly values digestibility, nuance, freshness and climatic aptitude. This dark red wine is indeed fresh, with early autumn fruits whose natural sweetness almost seems to have a balsamic note. It’s pure and lively on the palate with a cascade of tumbling acidity and fine-grained tannins: an energetic, even athletic reading of Campania’s volcanic soils and bright light. The amphora ageing helps shape and refine the purity still further, and those balsamic notes continue to provide interest all the way to the clean, deft, sappy finish". In the UK, expected with us Weds 29th September.
- It's very much rosé season out there. That any Best in Show rosé should come from Provence is no surprise. But there is a divide in Provence rosé. Most is delicate, but the appellation of Bandol specialises in the use of Mourvedre (in both reds and rosés). These are beefier rosés. The Domaine de la Suffrene has been the DWWA standar-bearer in previous years, but this year we see the excellent Domaine Ray-Jane 2020. Said DWWA21, "Every year our judges confront the same difficulty when it comes to our cohort of outstanding Provence roses: should it be an example from Bandol (which, thanks to a sizeable Mourvedre component, will generally be structured and characterful) which represents the region in our top 50 Best in Show, or should it be a typical Cotes de Provence rose, where excellence is gauged by prettiness, understatement, delicacy and drinkability? Bandol has won out again this year, but you will find Cotes de Provence roses among our other Platinum and Gold Medal-winners. In truth this pale pink wine doesn’t lack prettiness of either colour or scent: it shimmers peachily on both fronts. In the mouth, by contrast, you’ll find plenty of almond marrow to take up the relay where the peaches end: creamy, long and fine". Out of stock, no more coming.
- Rias Baixas Albarino is one of our most popular categories; for freshness and summer drinking, it is very hard to beat. Finding one with a little more depth and interest to it can be a challenge, and can often take you close to £20 a bottle (Albarino is a pain to cultivate; this invariably impacts on bottle price). DWWA21 have found that wine: the Mar de Ons 2020. It's also a Value Best in Show. We import it directly - and exclusively - and can keep the cost down to £14.50 a bottle (and quite a bottle it is). DWWA21 say, "This wine ... impressed at the four different stages of scrutiny for its fragrance and its vivacity, its lightness and its elegance, its pungency and its pithiness. This variety’s home is around the northwestern tip of Iberia, though the Portuguese Minho versions are subtly different to those of Galicia. In its exuberance, charm and evident seafood-friendliness, this is a perfect example of the latter. Look out for scents of green apple, quince and grapefruit, while the flavours suggest not just citrus fruits but their peels and skins too. It retains all that aromatic force to the last drop, and leaves the mouth still cleaner than it found it". Now out of stock, no more coming.
- It's no surprise to see Charles Heidsieck's Rose Reserve Champagne at the top of the DWWA21 tree. "This salmon-copper rose, with its cavalier autumn fruits and its sheer breadth and audacity of flavour, struck our judges as one of the most memorable. Long, bold flavours subside slowly, vinously and lingeringly in this great gastronomic rose wine". Now in stock, with more available in a few days. From the same stable, the 98-point Piper-Heidsieck Brut 2012 and Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs NV both star as Platinums, just for good measure.
- A few weeks away (from the UK) is a luxury Cab Sauv from an extreme part of South Africa, from producers, Cederberg. Their Five Generations 2018 is described glowingly: "It’s tempting to see a mountain purity in this dark wine, and the altitude can surely be read in the freshness of its blackcurrant fruits and their near-leafy charm. Those fruits drive through the palate with remarkable purity, length and, once again, freshness; it carries its alcohol with ease; and the finish is clean and bright. The tannins are soft, almost hidden behind the acidity, but they are there to bring a touch of cleansing bitterness which refreshes further". In the UK, expected with us Fri 1st October.
- We had also hoped to offer the Chateau de la Chapelle 2018 from Bordeaux's Cote de Blaye. This now looks unlikely (but do watch these pages). We do still offer the Chateau Bourdieu wines from that same vintage, very nearby in the Cote de Blaye and the same winemaking team; these secured Platinum and Gold awards at DWWA20.
More of these on offer; bear in mind they scored the same points as almost all of the Bests in Show!
- Form a line for some superb New World opulence from South Africa: Glen Constantia's flagship Bordeaux blend, their Five 2017. "Intense cassis, graphite, eucalypt, and violets on the nose. A plush palate of fine-grained tannins with black plum, black cherry, and blackcurrant leaf character. Love the weightless concentration and supreme elegance. This is top drawer". Be warned - this is pretty much the end of this vintage; we have swooped to take all remaining stock we can, but it will not last long. Out of stock, no more available in UK or SA.
- The Larmanela is back! The flagship wine - now the 2018 - of Bergerie du Capucin - in Languedoc's Pic St-Loup appellation - returns after a Best in Show at DWWA19 (2016 vintage) and a Gold at DWWA20 (2017 vintage). And it hugely impresses again. It has all the class of Northern Rhone Syrah (it's 'quite Cornas') but with the extra ripeness and warmth of something just very slightly New World. "Lush, inviting black/red. The aroma instantly captures a generous sweet oak vehicle for vibrant, plush red fruit and soft fine-grained, velvety tannins. African spices, light toasted bread, dark fruit, and well integrated oak with a long finish. Some class here!" declared the DWWA21 judges. Now in stock.
- "Captivating dark berry, plum, black cherry and black olive nose. Ripe, opulent fruit on the palate with good concentration and freshness, al dente tannins, plenty of textural interest and refreshing acidity. Magnificent wine!" Does that grab you? It grabbed us. And we were delighted to see it said of a Rioja from the near sister of Bodegas Olarra, they of the ultra-popular Cerro Anon and Laztana. This description is of the Mayor de Ondarre Reserva 2016 from Bodegas Ondarre (their standard Ondarre Gran Res has been a big Exel hit in 2021). UK supplies have yet to be released from the winery, but will leave in early October, placing here it here late that month. We are taking a waiting list for now and will contact interested customers as it arrives.
- Taron's Pantocrator, an aged (red) Rioja. It's a Gran Reserva in defitional terms, but Taron have moved to the modern era and just given it their own name. The previous vintage, the 2005 - yes, 2005 - was a top IWC winner, and the new vintage, from another epic year in Rioja, is again fully on song. "This has a lot of age in barrique and bottle, but it still wears it lightly. The palate has notes of ripe baked fruit and red berry fruit compote, polished tannins and developed tertiary notes. Long, savoury and classy". It arrives here 5th-7th October; we are taking orders now.
- There are two Amarones (della Valpolicella) from the outstanding 2016 vintage; one from the Valpantena co-operative, the Torre del Falasco (NB: amazing price of £26.65) and the other from La Giuva. The Valpantena was reported/judged thus: "Stunning fruit cake, vanilla and spice nose, touch of wood spice and red cherry. Palate brings lush dark fruits, a creamy texture, well-integrated chocolaty tannins and fresh acidity. Lovely mocha-like persistence on the finish" ...
- ... while the La Giuva saw these words: "Exceedingly inviting creamy oak, baked red fruit, fig, caramel and molasses nose. Beautiful! Good fruit concentration in the mouth with baking spice, hints of dried herbs and red berries. Very rich and concentrated with big, round tannins. Superb!"
- Belisario's Verdicchio di Matelica, the Cambrugiano Riserva 2017 shines brightly: "Very fine nose, intense and concentrated with fragrant floral aromas and white peach framed by thyme and rosemary notes with white pepper touches. Fresh and lively palate with a spicy finish". Italian white fans know Verdicchio is the classiest option out there and this wine fully delivers on point.
- Italian Sauvignon Blanc, you say? Unusual as it is, when it's good, and made with the complexity as Colterenzio's Lafoa, its really worth the effort and the price tag. "Enticing, inviting aromas of lemon sorbet, lime, rose water, gooseberry, grapefruit and tomato leaf lead on to a richly layered palate of peach, apricot, cool mineral and a shimmering acidity."
- German/Rheingau Riesling fans will need little or no introduction to Schloss Johannisberg. Their Silberlack 2019, whilst £45+, is in fabulous form yet again: "Perfumed nose of lemon and lime zest with briny and savoury notes over ripe stone fruit undertones. Quite intense yet well balanced. Harmonious, with a long, pure, intense finish."
- The global line-up of excellent, ripe and full Cabernet Francs continues to grow. Gasper (of Slovenia) landed a big DWWA hit two years ago with their (Select) Cab Franc and they do so again this year with the 2019 vintage. "Pronounced and expressive nose, graceful and elegant with a lovely perfume of black fruits, vanilla, tobacco and fresh lavender. Generous palate with a lovely texture and concentration. Very long finish".
- Some wines are DWWA super-stalwarts; they Best In Show or Platinum every year. One such is Donnafugata's Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria, that brilliant Zibibbo-based sweet wine from the heart of the Mediterranean. The 98-point 2018 is on song: "Rich and waxy notes of dried orange, creme caramel, dried banana, marmalade and mango. Enticing with an explosion of ripe fruit on the palate, luscious with a vibrant balanced acidity" said DWWA21. Available in 750ml and 375ml bottles.
- And if dessert wine of the highest calibre is for you, Inniskillin's exquisite Niagara Riesling Icewine 2019 is also in the Platinum mix: "With vibrantly viscous ripe mango, pineapple and passionfruit, this charms with precision and utter purity. With unctuous roasted fruit and rich, massive caramel notes, it's burnished and beautiful. Tantalisingly tangy and lusciously long on the finish".
Plenty of these - something for everybody!
There's a sizeable number here!
Of particular note are the excellent Riojas from
- Queiron, being their Mi Lugar Vino de Quel 2017 - one of the new Vinos de Pueblo category (more details on the page). Don't miss out on "Cherry, vanilla, raspberry and plum nose. Purity, definition and savoury twist on the palate all adds to the interest. Incredible spicy-floral length; a very lovely wine indeed". Again, there's not much out there - this is the end-of-a-vintage situation once more. Here's our video tasting.
- Ramon Bilbao, being their ever-super Gran Reserva. This, the 2012, is noted for its cellaring potential: "Fragrant, with wax polish and dried rose petals. Red fruit on the palate, along with dried leaves and truffle, bold acidity and lacy tannins. Extremely long. Needs time; built for ageing.".
- Ramon Bilbao again - this being a white Rioja in their Limite series. This is the Limite Norte 2017, a 50% Maturana Blanca/50% Tempranillo Blanco, described by DWWA21 (and given 96 points) as "Complex bouquet of acacia, kumquat, mandarin and peach. Very zesty on entry, lovely orange and pink grapefruit juiciness, really vibrant and invigorating. Layered and really balanced".
- Olarra, being that firmest of firm Exel favourites and big-sellers, the Cerro Anon Gran Reserva. This is back in its 2015 vintage, albeit not arriving until mid-October. There's much more detail in our dedicated page here.
... plus two superb (but quite different) Italian whites in the form of
- the oaked Soave of Pieropan, the La Rocca 2018 - very much at the end of the judged vintage (a few magnums available also also the follow-on vintage); and
- from the island of Ischia, offshore of Naples, the Forastera of Cenatiempo (they of the Kalimera, a former DWWA Best in Show): "Ripe nose of honeyed peaches, elderflower, herbs and mineral undertones. Lovely texture and freshness with a richer tones on the finish. Well-balanced and rich."
... and two excellent South African Chardonnays from de Wetshof, the flagship Bataleur 2018 and the superbly-priced (£14.95) Lesca 2020.
It's probably unwise - and certainly difficult - to have favourites, but the superb Cabernet Franc from Argentina's Angulo Innocenti is on our shortest shortlist. It combines class and elegance with wonderful ripeness and easy-drinkability. Expect this wine to revise your existing notions of Cab Franc! Alas, now out of stock until the end of October, but we are running a waiting list (see product page).
Then there's a couple of Big Reds at a decent price:
Also, New Zealand is represented here not by standard Sauvignon Blanc (which did, truth be told, not fare well overall in DWWA21) but by
There's an excellent trio of fascinating and non-standard European whites:
Of wider white mention must be Garzon's 2020 Albarino, all the way from Uruguay. For those seeking a richer, denser wine from this grape, this is it.
2016 Brunello do Montalcino has set pulses racing in the wine world; Il Poggione's offering makes 95 points; there's also a surprisingly affordable 96-point Barbaresco.
Vin de Constance is back - this time the 2017 vintage. It never disappoints.
As to sparklings: there are two from Taittinger: the Prelude Grand Cru NV (actually a Platinum) and the Brut 2014 ... plus a top Corpinnat from Gramona.