Find out about our Decanter World Wine Awards 2014 Piedmont & Switzerland judging panel with biographies of the Regional Chair Paolo Basso plus Arvid Rosengren, Bruno Besa, Claire Thevenot MS, Daniele Cernilli, David Round MW, Emilio Del Fante, Emily O’Hare, Ezio De Bernardi, Igor Sotric, Laurent Richet MS, Luigi Buonanno and Matt Walls.
Regional chair: Paolo Basso
In 2013, Swiss-Italian Paolo Basso was named Best Sommelier of the World, one of just five sommeliers who hold both European and World titles. He started his wine career as a sommelier in Switzerland and gained professional experience with a leading Swiss-based wine trader, where he focused on Burgundy and Bordeaux. Basso runs his own wine consultancy, Paolo Basso Wine, and is a familiar name on the sommelier competition circuit. He has won many awards, including Best Sommelier of Switzerland 1997 and Best Sommelier of Europe 2010.
Arvid Rosengren is the wine director of restaurant group Copenhangen Concepts, which owns and runs eight restaurants along three concept lines: MASH (steakhouse), Umami (Japanese/French fusion) and Le Sommelier (French brasserie). Joining the company in June 2011, Rosengren was previously the head sommelier at two of the group’s restaurants in Copenhagen, and prior to that worked in Stockholm at Restaurant Le Rouge, and spent a few months in the UK at the Hotel du Vin in Birmingham in 2008. Winning many awards on the sommelier competition circuit, Rosengren was named Best Sommelier of Sweden 2010 and last year became the Best Sommelier of Europe 2013, going on to compete in the Best Sommelier of the World semi-finals in Tokyo. Rosengren also teaches at sommelier schools in Scandinavia and writes for publications, including Livets Goda, and publishes his own blog at arvidrosengren.com.
Originally from Friuli, Bruno Besa has been living in London since 1986. After almost 20 years working in hotels and restaurants, he founded Astrum Wine Cellars in 2001, along with long term friends and former colleagues Max Folli and Stefano Benato from Stafano Cavallini Restaurant at the Halkin hotel in Belgravia. Bruno is currently managing director of the company, representing around 50 wineries and distilleries from Italy and Central Europe.
Claire Thevenot MS
Claire Thevenot MS is a French-born adopted Londoner. She studied catering and hospitality management and then took a sommelier degree from Tain l’Hermitage (France). After graduating Thevenot worked at a number of three star Michelin restaurants in France, Germany and Switzerland, including Bernard Loiseau and Restaurant Im Schiffchen Jean Claude Bourgueil. In 2002, Thevenot moved to London with work for the Hotel du Vin Group, quickly being promoted to Head Sommelier at the Hotel du Vin Winchester. In 2006 Thevenot become a Master Sommelier, the same year she was named UK Sommelier of the Year. Thevenot currently works for Enotria where she looks after prestige accounts and assists the buying team find new French growers. Her passion is for German Riesling, particularly, although she is also true to her French roots and the wines of Burgundy and the Rhône.
Daniele Cernilli was born in Rome and graduated with a masters in philosophy. In 1979 he began his career in the wine trade at Vini & Liquori, a monthly magazine, before going on to co-found what would become the annual Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia in 1987. Cernilli has held various editorial positions, including editor-at-large of Gambero Rosso magazine and Wine Travel Food, and in 1988 he was named editor-in-chief of Vini d’Italia (also published in English as Italian Wines), where he directed the tastings of wines entered from all over Italy – from a few hundred in the first edition to over 18,000 in the 2010 edition. In 1999, Cernilli started writing for Rai Sat/Gambero Rosso Channel and, in 2009, he was made editor-in-chief of the programme. Cernilli has consulted for the Associazione Italiana Sommelier and the Worldwide Sommelier Association, and is currently working on his own Italian and English web magazine, DoctorWine.it. In 2013 he began cooperating with ONAV (Organizzazione Nazionale Assaggiatori di Vino), Spirito di Vino, Sette (weekly of the Italian leading newspaper Corriere della Sera) and Pagina99 (weekly magazine for art & culture).
David Round MW
David Round MW joined the wine trade in 1991, working on the shop floor in Fortnum & Mason’s Wine Department. In 1994 he moved to Berry Bros & Rudd to help set up their Duty Free Wine Shop at Heathrow’s Terminal 3, and soon transferred to the Buying Department. Round passed his MW in 1999 and became fine wine manager at Direct Wines the following year. In 2003 Round moved to Bancroft Wines (formerly H&H Bancroft) where he was joint buying and marketing director. In 2009 Round joined Jascots Wine Merchants as director of purchasing, PR and marketing, leaving in late 2013 to help run a family business and set up his own wine consultancy.
Emilio Del Fante
Emilio Del Fante is a career maître d’hôtel. He entered the hospitality industry in 1970 upon graduating with a diploma federale di maître d`hôtel from Switzerland and has worked in a number of positions related to the profession ever since. Between 1974 and 1986, Del Fante worked seasonally between the 5 star Palace Luzern and the Hotel Seehof Davos, first as chef de rang and then as maitre d’hotel, with occasional work/study breaks in the UK and a year long stint aboard the Royal Viking Star. For the next six years, Del Fante was maitre d’hotel and head sommelier at the one Michelin star Santabbondio Restorante (Martin Dalsass). Del Fante has been the maitre d’hotel and head sommelier for the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola in Lugano since 1995, was named Best Sommelier of Switzerland 2001 and he received his professional sommelier diploma from the Italian Association of Sommeliers in 2003.
Emily O’Hare is the head sommelier, wine buyer and WSET tutor at London’s River Café, where she has worked for almost seven years. She also writes about Italian wine for various publications and sits on the judging panels for Decanter. In May 2012 O’Hare won the Harpers Wines & Spirits Sommelier of the Year Award, and in her spare time she runs a women’s tasting group Women, Know Your Wine! and also The London Wine Sessions, a bi-annual wine festival which includes talks and tastings, music and food.
Ezio De Bernardi
Ezio De Bernardi is the sales manager at Valsangiacomo Vini in Mendrisio in his native Switzerland, where he has worked since 2003. De Bernardi was introduced to the world of wine in 1994 when he went to Beaune to take a CIVB course in viticulture, oenology and wine tasting. In 1996, De Bernardi moved to Milan to take the AIS Diploma and that same year was named Best Sommelier of Switzerland. After completing his diploma, De Bernardi worked as a sommelier and maître d’hotel for a number of restaurants in France, the UK and Germany. While in the UK, De Bernardi was admitted to the Institute of Masters of Wine. De Bernardi is a regular taster at Brussels’ International Taste & Quality Institute (ITQI) and has judged at Starwine in Philadelphia. Since 1999 he has been a member of the board of the Swiss Sommelier Association (ASSP) responsible for sommelier competitions. His most recent achievement was in 2010 when he placed 3rd at the ‘Concours Europe Degustation Vins par equipe’ organised by La Revue du Vin de France.
After graduating with a degree in microbiology, Igor Sotric moved to the UK and entered the wine industry 18 years ago. Qualified to WSET diploma level, he is head sommelier and wine buyer at China Tang at the Dorchester, and has prior experience with Asian restaurants, including Cocoon and the St Martins Lane Hotel. Sotric also acts as consultant to several restaurants, and since 2009 he has been making his own Chardonnay in Goriska Brda, Slovenia, with his friend Marijan Simcic.
Laurent Richet MS
Laurent Richet MS was born in the Loire Valley and attended Saumur’s catering college, where he graduated as a sommelier. He headed south shortly after to work for some of the finest establishments on the Côte d’Azur including La Reserve de Beaulieu, in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, and Hotel de Paris in Monaco. Richet then moved to the UK to continue his profession at the Celtic Manor Resort in South Wales, before heading to Florida to work with Virginia Philip MS, and take the Court of Master Sommelies introductory course. Returning to the UK, Richel joined Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest. Richet currently works for Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham, and in 2010 he won the Gastronomy Team of the Year competition, in addition to passing his Master Sommelier examinations and gaining the Crew Cup.
Luigi Buonanno has worked in the catering industry since the age of 15. While living in Rome, Buonanno had the opportunity to work in fine dining restaurants, where he discovered the role of sommelier, at which point he left University to take a sommelier diploma. Following this, he did a masters in sensorial analysis, considered to be the highest related degree achievable in Italy. In 2007 Buonanno moved to London, where he worked for Prism restaurant before moving to Caravaggio, re-writing Caravaggio’s wine list, and subsequently the lists for the eight other restaurants in the Etrusca Group. Buonanno was then promoted to group sommelier and wine buyer, and since 2011 he has been collaborating with Daniele Cernilli on doctorwine.it, where he writes reviews about mainly non-Italian wines available in the UK.
Matt Walls is a freelance wine writer and consultant. He contributes regular articles to Decanter, timatkin.com, Harpers Wine & Spirit and Imbibe. He won Best Newcomer at the 2013 Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards for Drink Me, his first book on wine. He publishes a popular wine blog, www.mattwalls.co.uk, for which he was shortlisted for International Wine & Spirit Competition Blogger of the Year in both 2012 and 2013. When not writing, Walls advises restaurants on wine lists, hosts tastings, judges wine competitions and edits The London Wine Guide iPhone app. Previously he was Fine Wines Manager at Mentzendorff and he set up, managed and bought wines for the flagship store of The Sampler.
Written by John Abbott