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Pegasus Bay Riesling Takes Top Spot In Prestigious International Tasting

24-May-2024

A famous blind wine tasting, which became known as Judgement of Paris, took place on 24th May 1976. It was organised by Steven Spurrier Master of Wine, a wine merchant and educator in Paris. The panel comprised 11 prominent judges from the French wine trade. The red flight featured wines from Bordeaux and Napa Valley in California, whilst the white flight featured Burgundy and Napa. Quelle horreur, when the results were revealed the little-recognised Californians had decisively prevailed with Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon and Chateaux Montelena 1973 Chardonnay coming top in their respective categories.

Almost 50 years on, this concept has been reanimated and widened, pitting the best wines of Europe with those from rest of the world. The Judgement of London took place on 20 May. 32 wines were tasted over a period of four hours by 21 judges, a selection of the UK’s best palates, two-thirds of which were either Masters of Wine or Master Sommeliers. The wines were tasted under exam conditions: eight pairs of white wines, followed by eight pairs of red wines; each pairing comprised a European wine with their Rest of World counterpart, matched in terms of style.

The wines - amongst the best in the world - were selected by Sarah Abbott MW, MD of Swirl Wine Group and Ronan Sayburn MS, CEO of The Court of Master Sommeliers. The key findings are as follows:

Top scoring white: Pegasus Bay Riesling, Bel Canto, Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand 2011

Runner up: Polish Hill Riesling, Grosset, Clare Valley, Australia 2012

Top scoring red: Hermitage Rouge, Jean Louis Chave, Rhône, France, 2012

Runner up: Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France 2009

Top scoring overall wine: Pegasus Bay Riesling, Bel Canto, Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand 2011

“My family has always made wines that we feel truly reflect our location and each season, as well as our own personal philosophies, rather than being influenced by chasing medals or scores. Having our Bel Canto Riesling selected as one of the 16 wines to represent the very best of the new world was humbling enough; however, having our wine selected as the best overall wine has left us speechless.” Edward Donaldson, Marketing Manager, Pegasus Bay

The purpose of Judgement of London was to give a snapshot of the fine wine landscape almost 50 years on from the Judgement of Paris. Ronan Sayburn MS commented: “From the beginning, it was never about a winner or loser, and the results show that. 50 years ago, there was a definite difference in style; now it is a much more level playing field. The so-called New World were making wines which were for a cool climate style, but in a warm climate. And obviously they had a lot of success, but were they elegant? Since Judgement of Paris, the so-called New World has better adapted to their climates, clones, and what works well. It is no longer the underdog. All these wines tasted on their own are amongst the greatest in the world, and we were asking our judges to choose amongst them.”

Sarah Abbott MW “The results from Judgment of London highlight that great wine can and does come from all corners of the world. Winemakers of these wines share so much in common and the excitement and gratitude that these wines inspire unities and inspire us as a trade.

THE WINES

The full list of wines, shown within the pairs and in the order each pairing was tasted is as follows:

WHITE

Riesling

Rest of World: Polish Hill Riesling, Grosset, Clare Valley, Australia 2012

Europe: Trimbach, Riesling Clos St Hune, Alsace, France 2008

Chardonnay

Europe: Cervaro Della Sala, Marchese Antinori, Umbria, Italy 2018

Rest of World: Kistler Chardonnay, Les Noisetiers, Sonoma, USA 2018

Chardonnay

Europe: Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Maison Louis Jadot, Burgundy, France 2017

Rest of World: Felton Road Chardonnay Block 6, Central Otago, New Zealand 2017

Blend

Rest of World: Au Bon Climat Hildegard, Santa Maria Valley, USA 2020

Europe: Terre Alte, Livio Felluga, Friuli, Italy 2020

Sauvignon Blanc

Europe: Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Grand Cru Classé, Pessac Léognan, Bordeaux, France 2017

Rest of World: Peter Michael Winery Sauvignon Blanc, L'Apres Midi, Sonoma, USA 2014

Textured

Rest of World: Pegasus Bay Riesling, Bel Canto, Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand 2011

Europe: Franz Hitzberger, Grüner-Veltiner Singerriedel, Wachau, Austria 2019

Rhône

Rest of World: Viognier, Tahbilk, Nagambie Lakes, Australia 2011

Europe: St Joseph Blanc Les Oliviers, Pierre Gonon, Rhône, France 2020

Textured

Europe: Quinta dos Roques Encruzado, Dão, Portugal 2014

Rest of World: David & Nadia Chenin Blanc, Skaliekop, Swartland, South Africa 2019

RED

Pinot Noir

Rest of World: Storm Pinot Noir, Ridge, Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa 2019

Europe: Bonnes Mares Grand Cru, Domaine Dujac, Côtes de Nuits, France 2017

Pinot Noir

Europe: Spätburgunder, Weingut Mayer-Näckel, Ahr Valley, Germany 2019

Rest of World: Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir, San Andreas, Sonoma, USA 2019

Cabernet

Rest of World: Promontory, Harlan Estate, Napa Valley, USA 2019

Europe: Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France 2009

Cabernet

Europe: Château Léoville Las Cases, St Julien, Bordeaux, France 2009

Rest of World: Viñedo Chadwick, Maipo Valley, Chile 2015

Syrah

Rest of World: Homage Syrah, Trinity Hill, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand 2018

Europe: Hermitage Rouge, Jean Louis Chave, Rhône, France, 2012

Textured

Europe: Saperavi Qvevri, Quevri Wine Cellar, Kakheti, Georgia 2019

Rest of World: Clonakilla Syrah, Canberra, New South Wales, Australia 2015

Grenache

Rest of World: Torbreck Hillside Vineyard Grenache, Barossa Valley, Australia 2016

Europe: Clos Magador, Priorat, Spain 2019

Cabernet Franc

Europe: Saumur Champigny, Clos Rougeard, Loire, France 2018

Rest of World: Gran Enemigo, Cabernet Franc, Gualtallary, Argentina 2018

THE JUDGES

The 21 judges who participated were:

Elliot Awin, Partner at ABS Wine Agencies

Isa Bal MS, Consultant Sommelier, Trivet Restaurant

Richard Bampfield MW, Wine Consultant

Stephen Brook, Contributing Editor of Decanter and Author

Alistair Cooper MW, Writer, Consultant and Judge

Dawn Davies MW, Buying Director, Speciality Drinks

Gearoid Devaney MS, Director of Flint Wines and Cabotte

Sarah Jane Evans MW, Wine Writer

Tina Gellie, Content Manager for the Decanter brand

Aleesha Hansel, Wine Writer

Daniel Illsley, Founder of Theatre of Wine

Anne Krebiehl MW, Wine Writer

Kathrine Larsen-Robert MS, Head of Fine Wine, Enotria

Adam Lechmere, Publishing Director, Académie du Vin Library

Regine Lee MW, Indigo Wine, Managing Director

Margaret Rand, Wine Writer and general editor of Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book

Laura Rhys MS, Head of Wine – Communications, Education and Style, Gusbourne

Jancis Robinson MW OBE, Wine Writer of The FT and JancisRobinson.com

Patrick Schmitt MW, Editor-in-Chief, The Drinks Business

Matt Wilkin MS, Director, H2Vin

Clem Yates MW, Founder of English Pink rosé


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