Decanter Wine Awards 2012: Did China wine more medals because it had more entries?

A recent Wall Street Journal post titled “Chinese wine makes strides” stated (my highlights):

Chinese vineyards are slowly gaining the respect of the wine world.

Long written off as plonk, wines from China garnered 19 medals at the latest Decanter World Wine Awards in London, up from just 11 last year.

It seems people are having trouble counting, since WSJ states that producers from China received 19 medals, I wrote it was 17 medals, and Decanter — whose number I think we can accept as the correct one — reported  18 medals .

Anyway, a bigger point is WSJ says Chinese producers performed better this year than last year. In terms of sheer number of medals, that is true. But I wondered if this result was due to far more producers from China entering the contest this year.

After all, last year Chinese winery Helan Qing Xue became — to much fanfare and some controversy — the first from this country to win an “international award” from Decanter. It seems natural that others would seek such recognition.

I asked Decanter to provide info on the number of wines entered by China producers for the past two years in order to better gauge performance. Here is the breakdown:

  • The 2011 awards: 11 of 24 wines received medals, about 46 percent (1 International Trophy / Gold, 4 Silvers, 3 Bronzes and 3 Commended).
  • The 2012 awards: 18 of 35 wines received medals, about 51 percent (1 Gold / Regional Trophy, 2 Silver, 10 Bronze and 5 Commended).

Thus, not only were there more entries, but also the judges — Ch’ng Poh Tiong, Annette Scarfe, Rebecca Leung, Magandeep Singh and Stéphane Soret — deemed a higher percentage of them to be worthy of medals. I leave it to readers to decide the significance of this in the grand scheme of things, but, at least as far the Decanter awards go, China’s producers did better this year than last.

Related to this, Decanter launched its Asia Wine Awards today at Vinexpo in Hong Kong. Get more info by visiting Stand J59 through May 31, emailing asiawineawards (at) and at this site.

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