France triumphs at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2021

France triumphs at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2021

French wines secured a haul of top medals at this year’s awards with Savoie and Jura enjoying the spotlight for the first time

France has picked up more top medals than any other country at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA). Now in its 18th year and overseen by more than 160 judges including 44 Masters of Wine and 11 Master Sommeliers, the DWWA judged 18,094 wines from 56 countries, making it a record year for wines tasted. France claimed 15 Best in Show medals, an impressive 30% of those awarded and an increase from the 12 won in 2020, as well as 122 Gold and 38 Platinum medals.

Roussanne-based Domaine Charles Gonnet secured the first Best in Show medal for Savoie, wowing the judges with its Vin de Savoie Chignin-Bergeron 2020 which scored 97 points. Meanwhile Domaine Berthet-Bondet’s Château-Chalon 2013 won the first Best in Show medal for Jura, which also took home its first Platinum medal thanks to Domaine Badoz’s Vin Jaune Côtes du Jura 2014. The remainder of France’s Best in Show medals came from wineries across the country, including Burgundy’s Domaine de la Vougeraie, the Loire’s Domaine David Sautereau and Provence’s Château Sainte-Marguerite.

France’s highest scoring wines all hailed from the Champagne region, with three vintage champagnes – Champagne Legras & Haas, L.T.S. Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2008, Palmer & Co, Brut 2012 and Piper-Heidsieck, Brut 2014 – scoring 98 points, putting them among just 14 wines in the entire competition to receive this top score.

“DWWA recognition is a great encouragement to the winning wineries, as they know that our judging system is tough but very fair,” says Andrew Jefford, Co-Chair of the Decanter World Wine Awards. “We’re also very proud of the fact that wines are always judged against their peers and in their cultural context: another reason for the winners to be encouraged, since it should mean there are no ‘lucky’ or ‘fluke’ wins against bizarre or incongruous competition.”

Andrew believes France has a number of natural advantages when it comes to crafting fine wines. “For me the most important are that France (uniquely) sits in the right spot on Earth both for producing fresh, cool-climate wines (‘northerly’ wines – septentrional in French: Champagne, the Loire, Burgundy) and for warmer, richer but not over-heavy wines (meridional: Bordeaux, the Rhône, Languedoc and Provence). The other factor is France’s long wine tradition and the excellence of the French palate in general – and specifically its love for and ability to create subtlety of aroma and flavour. The last factor is the reason why Provence’s pink wines have been such a hit, for example.”

France’s success at the awards comes after what has been a particularly challenging time and should hopefully prove positive not only for the winning wineries but the French wine industry generally. “It’s hugely encouraging at a very rocky time for French wine in general,” says Andrew. “I personally live year-round in Languedoc and growers near me have been pounded by setback after setback in recent years – hail, frost, heatwaves, Covid and the loss of tourism and restaurant sales, ‘Trump tariffs’, Brexit…. This good news for French wine will, I hope, cheer French winemakers up a bit!

See the full list of France’s winning wines here


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