New Regional Chairs to join Decanter World Wine Awards 2020

From 27 April to 7 May 2020, hundreds of world-renowned wine experts will judge thousands of wine entries in this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards.

The DWWA judging process is organised into categories, initially based on region. Each region is judged by a panel of wine professionals with expertise in that region, and led by a Regional Chair to oversee their respective panels, settle any score discrepancies and re-taste all Silver and Gold winners for consistency. Returning DWWA Co-Chairs Sarah Jane Evans MW, Michael Hill Smith MW and Andrew Jefford jointly oversee the entire competition.

How the judging process and medals work

Michael Hill Smith MW, Australia’s first Master of Wine and DWWA Co-Chair, commented on the judging process:

“DWWA is judged by regional specialists so when your wines are judged by, let’s say, the Champagne panel, it’s made up of Champagne specialists so I think that makes a big difference. It makes the results more credible and you can rely therefore on those scores more.”

This year’s Decanter World Wine Awards will include 35 Regional Chairs who are experts in their field. The chairmanship includes 27 returning Regional Chairs from DWWA 2019 alongside four new Regional Chairs and four returning Regional Chairs with new regions for 2020. See below for the appointments.

DWWA 2020: New Regional Chairs

Paz Levinson – Argentina

Paz Levinson is Executive Head Sommelier at Maison Pic in Paris. A consultant for restaurants and an educator for a number of organisations such as Wines of Argentina, in 2015 she won the A.S.I. & APAS Best Sommelier of the Americas.

She came 4th in the A.S.I. Best Sommelier in the World in Mendoza in 2016. Levinson also taught at the Centro Argentino de Vinos y Espirituosas (CAVE) for five years and achieved her professional sommelier diploma from CAVE in 2006.

At the same time, she completed a BA in literature, and became the first Argentinean to pass the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Sommelier certificate.

Levinson was named Best Sommelier of Argentina in 2010 and 2014, and has written for a number of magazines and sites including, GuildSomm.

Dominique Vrigneau – Beaujolais, Southwest & Rest of France

Dominique Vrigneau joined Majestic on a work experience placement in 1986 after completing a five-year PhD in agriculture and oenology in Toulouse France.

He was soon promoted to the position of buying manager, and in 1991 he joined Thierry’s Wine Services as Buying Director.

In November 2012 Vrigneau moved to a new venture, Watermill Wines, and now combines his buying capabilities with selling to key accounts.

Vrigneau is well known for his in-depth knowledge of French wine, but is also a pioneer of Australian wines; he introduced the first comprehensive Australian range in the UK in Majestic in 1987. He is also a an expert in Argentinian wines, when he started working with Family Zuccardi in 1991, and Austrian wines, as he has been working with producer Markus Huber since 2005.

Vrigneau has judged in international competitions for many years and is a Chevalier du Tastevin.

Justin Knock MW – Australia (joint-chair with Huon Hooke)

Australian national Justin Knock MW has lived in London for more than 12 years. He is a co-owner of Philglas & Swiggot, a renowned fine wine retailer in London, and runs The Purple Hand Wine Company, a wine consultancy business.

Justin holds degrees in food science and industrial chemistry and has worked for some of the wine industry’s biggest companies – as a winemaker and education manager for Treasury Wine Estates in Australia and Europe, and as a consultant for Encirc, a specialist glass manufacturer and UK packaging company.

He has made wine in Australia, France and Spain, and blended wine from South Africa, South America and California. Justin was most recently Director of the California Wine Institute in the UK.

James Tidwell MS – USA & Central America

James Tidwell MS is a writer, speaker, consultant,…

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