Meet the Judges and go behind the scenes

The judges have swirled, sniffed, sipped and tasted for a 2nd year to bring you the ‘Gilmours Top 20 Wine Selection for 2022'


A two-day judging event took place in March and the Gilmours Top 20 Wine Selection was selected.

For the second year Emma Jenkins MW chaired the event with an independent panel of wine judges experienced in International Wine.  This was made up of Sam Kim (Wine Orbit) and Simon Nunns (Consulting Winemaker) and was run by Chief Steward Jo Gear.

This year 225 wines entered the competition, made up of 39 wine varieties from 10 Countries.

Welcome note from the Chair of Judges 2022

What a tumultuous year it has been. The past 12 months has seen us solidify the word ‘lockdown’ into our vocabulary, and become all too familiar with the terms ‘isolation’, ‘RATs’, ‘PCR’ and ‘variant’. The phrase ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ seems very applicable but possibly Hunter S. Thompson was more on the money when he said, ‘when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro’. The hospitality industry in particular experienced a disproportionate amount of the tough and the weird, and it’s testament to their resilience, adaptability and fortitude that so many have come out the other side.

It's a pleasure therefore to be part of an initiative that aims to support the industry. In 2021, Gilmours introduced the Gilmours International Wine Competition with the aim of finding the very best affordable international wines, helping Foodservice members gain confidence in international wines, broaden their wine knowledge and plan their wine lists. I am thrilled to return as Chair, joining my fellow judges Simon Nunns and Sam Kim to make the Top 20 Selection.

This year, we received 225 entries from 10 countries and amidst the supply chain turmoil and challenging trading environment, it was really heartening that entries increased by 20% and new suppliers came onboard. The two day judging process itself remained the same: we first tasted the entire 225 in a series of short flights to produce a shortlist of around 50 wines, and from there we retasted the shortlist and decided the eventual Top 20. Once again, the top wines were chosen first and foremost for their quality – we looked for balance and harmony of fruit, acidity, tannins/phenolics and alcohol, whether the wine showed good typicity for the variety and origin, and above all, did it taste delicious – would someone enjoy drinking this wine? All wines were tasted blind, in that we had no idea of the labels entered but we did have access to information on variety and/or origin for context if needed. As with the inaugural Top 20, we are very pleased with the final selection – an exciting range of varieties and styles - and we are confident that consumers will get a lot of enjoyment from exploring these wines.

I always enjoy tasting alongside Simon Nunns, winemaker and consultant, and Sam Kim of wine review service Wine Orbit. Both Simon and Sam have extensive experience as Senior Judges, Panel Chairs and Show Chairs, as well as an abiding love of wines from all four corners of the globe. We were again supported by the fantastic Jo Gear, herself a trained winemaker but more importantly an unflappable and faultlessly organized Chief Steward. Jo arranges the procurement of the wines, the set up and management of the judging process, and oversees the seamless stewarding across the judging days by the Gilmours team. As judges, we could not ask for a better environment, one that allows us simply to focus on choosing the best wines.

The Top 20 wines are rewarded with brand exposure via a series of promotional and instore tasting events through Gilmours Online and Cash ‘n Carry stores, alongside marketing promotion to over 25,000 trade-oriented Foodservice members. This is a valuable opportunity for suppliers, and it has been heartening to see their ongoing support. I am looking forward to working with Gilmours to engage with members about the judging process and the Top 20 wines.

We all appreciate the wonderful hospitality culture we have here in New Zealand. The pleasure of sharing good food and wine with friends and family is an ancient and enduring practice, and one that these recent challenging times have shown us should not be taken for granted. I thank Gilmours for their ongoing support of the industry and look forward to sharing this year’s Top 20 wines with their members and suppliers.

Emma Jenkins MW
Competition Chair