Close Menu

Judgement of London tasting reveals ‘level playing field’

Europe pipped Rest of the World to the post at the Judgement of London tasting this week, but New Zealand and Australia scored top in the white wines.

(Image credit: Anthony Upton 2024©)

The event, which took place at the London Wine Fair in tribute to Stephen Spurrier’s infamous Judgement of Paris tasting, saw European wines take on the Rest of the World’s offer with judges including leading Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers and wine experts.

The judges scored each wine out of ten, which resulted in a grand total for each wine, and a final overall score for European vs. Rest of World.

In a very closely fought blind tasting contest of 32 wines, European wines scored a total of 2,621.5 points to the Rest of the World’s 2,604.5 points, meaning the overall winner was the ‘Old World’ by 0.65%.

The wines were selected by Sarah Abbott MW and Ronan Sayburn MS who presented the results on Monday afternoon with the head of the London Wine Fair, Hannah Tovey.

The key findings were:

  • 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 wine: Pegasus Bay Riesling, Bel Canto, Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand 2011

While California was the winner of the Paris tasting, this time the concept was to offer a broader spectrum of wines across the globe.

All corners

Speaking about the results, Sarah Abbott MW said it showed  that great wine “can and does come from all corners of the world”.

Ronan Sayburn MS added that “it was never about a winner or loser”, and the results “show that”.

He said, referring to the Paris tasting: “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.”

Head of London Wine Fair, Hannah Tovey, said the results “could barely have been closer,” and revealed an “equal footing” between Europe and the Rest of the World in today’s fine wine market.

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



Rest of World: Polish Hill Riesling, Grosset, Clare Valley, Australia 2012
Europe: Trimbach, Riesling Clos St Hune, Alsace, France 2008


Europe: Cervaro Della Sala, Marchese Antinori, Umbria, Italy 2018
Rest of World: Kistler Chardonnay, Les Noisetiers, Sonoma, USA 2018


Europe: Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Maison Louis Jadot, Burgundy, France 2017
Rest of World: Felton Road Chardonnay Block 6, Central Otago, New Zealand 2017


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


Rest of World: Pegasus Bay Riesling, Bel Canto, Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand 2011
Europe: Franz Hitzberger, Grüner-Veltiner Singerriedel, Wachau, Austria 2019


Rest of World: Viognier, Tahbilk, Nagambie Lakes, Australia 2011
Europe: St Joseph Blanc Les Oliviers, Pierre Gonon, Rhône, France 2020


Europe: Quinta dos Roques Encruzado, Dão, Portugal 2014
Rest of World: David & Nadia Chenin Blanc, Skaliekop, Swartland, South Africa 2019


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


Rest of World: Promontory, Harlan Estate, Napa Valley, USA 2019
Europe: Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France 2009


Europe: Château Léoville Las Cases, St Julien, Bordeaux, France 2009
Rest of World: Viñedo Chadwick, Maipo Valley, Chile 2015


Rest of World: Homage Syrah, Trinity Hill, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand 2018
Europe: Hermitage Rouge, Jean Louis Chave, Rhône, France, 2012


Europe: Saperavi Qvevri, Quevri Wine Cellar, Kakheti, Georgia 2019
Rest of World: Clonakilla Syrah, Canberra, New South Wales, Australia 2015


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
Patrick Schmitt MW, Editor-in-Chief, The Drinks Business
Matt Wilkin MS, Director, H2Vin
Clem Yates MW, Founder of English Pink rosé

Judge’s comments:

Richard Bampfield MW said: “Fascinating and inspiring tasting that provided a robust riposte to the view that wine styles are becoming more homogenous around the world. Just because it is becoming harder to identify wines as New World or Old World (which this tasting confirmed, at least for me) does NOT mean that we are losing diversity of style and personality. Fine wines, in a dazzling variety of styles, are being made the world over.”

Dawn Davies MW said: “Blind tasting is a great way of removing any preconceptions, you can only be led by what is in the glass.  It was so great to see both the wines of Europe and the rest of the world standing side by side as equals.  There were of course favourites, but all the wines tasted stood up to the test.  There is definitely a blurring of lines between Europe and the rest of the world, partly driven by climate, partly driven by changing palates and skills but what is clear is that it is this is one of the best times to be in wine.”

Daniel Illsley, founder of Theatre of Wine, said: “Highlights for me were Chave Hermitage, Torbreck, Clos Mogador and Clos Rougeard. But the biggest surprises of the day were Cervaro della Sala giving Lafon Meursault vibes, and David and Nadia Chenin Skaliekop which blew me away. We always taste their wines so young, so now my eyes are open to the potential. And a bargain!”

Anne Krebiehl MW said: “What a fabulous and challenging, even mind-bending selection of wines. Kudos to Sarah and Ronan for putting together such a line-up that held many surprises. I am just happy I no longer have to pass blind tasting exams because this was not easy to tell at all.”

Adam Lechmere of Académie du Vin Library said: “A fascinating tasting which put an official stamp on what we’ve all known for years: that in wines at this level,
the terms ‘New World’ and ‘Old World’, as predicators of style, are pretty much defunct.”

Matt Wilkin MS said: “The Judgement of London tasting offered a very rare chance to taste a formidable line-up of cross global wines of similar vein ‘side by side’, based on producers submitting best examples of varietal v regionality cuvées from best vintage stocks available on-hand within the age range issued. This provided great insight to taste exceptional wines blind based on each producers target expression of varietal vs location markers for overall excellence.

“The main contributing factors for those wines which shined greater than others ‘on the day’ came down to each wine delivering its greatest expression vs overall balance of fruit purity, complexity, textural flow and conveyance on the palate, energy and persistence vs integrated oak and alcohol factors harmonising. All wines poured were served on equal terms with equitable stemware, breathing opportunity and at correct temperature range(s); in years to come some of these wines may well rise above their rivals who shined greater ‘on the day’, but for this day the wines which shined best did so due to being ready to perform.”

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No