How we judge

The Basics

  • All stages are judged totally blind.
  • All wines are poured into coded glasses before being served to the judges.
  • The judges do not see any bottles, not even covered bottles.

Stage One: Awarding Medals, tasted strictly by origin and style.

Stage Two: All Gold medal wines are re-tasted side-by-side to select the Best in Class.

Stage Three: Best in Class within each country compete for Regional Champions (by appellation) if there is a recognisable region and there are sufficient entries from that region.

Stage four: Regional Champions and any non-aligned Best in Class within each country compete for National Champions.

Stage Five: All Best in Class (not just Regional and National Champions) compete for six World Champions by Style.

Stage Six: All National Champions compete for Supreme World Champion.

The Hierarchy

  • Click here for more details about each stage.
  • Click here for to find out why we only award Gold and Silver medals.

Medals (Only Gold and Silver wines considered winners, just Golds for Deluxe Champagnes.)

Best in Class (Mostly by Style, but also includes other categories)

Regional Champions (The highest scoring wine of each Appellation)

National Champions (The highest scoring wine of each country)

World Champions by Style (Six icons of style)

Supreme World Champion (The highest scoring wine in the competition)

Special Trophies (Best Deluxe Champagne, Best Grower Champagne, Chairman’s Trophy, Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year)

Discussion, the essence of good wine judging

  • We judge by so-called Anglo-Aussie rules.
  • We use Riedel Chianti glasses for tasting.
  • Each judge assesses the wines individually, writing a tasting note and giving a score. The scores are collected and totaled before each wine is discussed and a decision reached.
  • When there is not an immediate consensus, the wine is discussed and often re-tasted, sometimes calling for fresh pours.
  • During this process, one or more judges might be persuaded to go up or down in score, but there is never any obligation.
  • Each medal awarded is the wholehearted decision of the entire panel, not an unfair average, whether statistically justified or not.

Why only 3 judges?

  • A panel of three judges is the most efficient sized panel for judging.
  • Four judges requires someone to have a casting vote, which is nonsensical.
  • Even with five judges, a split panel of 2 v 3 risks long, drawn-out debates, the outcome of which would not necessarily be any superior to a panel of three highly experienced specialist judges who are used to judging together.
As Tom Stevenson states:

Essi Avellan, Tony Jordan and I have tasted thousands of Champagnes together under blind, competitive conditions over the years. We respect each other’s experience and capability. We each know what to look for. We spend a lot of time searching for elegance and finesse.

Specifically we try not to get side-tracked by size, weight or intensity (although intensity with little or moderate size and weight can be mesmerising). We reward size only when there is also balance and finesse, and we resolutely refuse to allow the weight of one wine to overshadow another. Indeed, if anything a weighty wine will make us focus even more closely on any following wine, to search out the lightest and finest nuances of brilliance.

If one of us draws attention to a wine that he or she believes the other two have not given sufficient credit, there are no egos that get in the way: we simply get down to re-examining that wine with total objectivity. Sometimes we will change our minds on mature reflection, sometimes we won’t, but we always re-approach such wines with a fresh, analytical mind-set.

This is why tasting with Essi and Tony is such a privilege and a pleasure.

The CSWWC is the most professional, focused and selective competition for all serious-minded, quality-conscious Champagne and Sparkling Wine producers