Find out about our Decanter World Wine Awards 2014 Portugal judging panel with biographies of the Regional Chair Sarah Ahmed plus Anne Forrest, Beatriz Machado, Ben Campbell-Johnston, Claudio Martins, Danny Cameron, Godfrey Spence, Jane MacQuitty, Joanna Locke MW, João Pires MS and Nick Oakley.
Regional chair: Sarah Ahmed
Ahmed is an independent, London-based wine writer, educator and judge who has published the site Thewinedetective.co.uk since 2006. She was awarded the WSET’s Vintners Cup in 2003, the Portuguese Annual Wine Awards’ Wine Writer of the Year 2009, and was shortlisted for the International Wine & Spirit Competition Communicator of the Year in 2009 and 2010. Ahmed has contributed to Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, consulted on Portugal and Australia for the seventh edition of The World Atlas of Wine and contributed to the fourth edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine. In 2013, she was made a Cavaleiro of the Confraria do Vinho do Porto for her commitment and contribution to Port wine.
Anne Forrest is the managing director of Vinos Sin Fronteras, a specialist wine export and consultancy business, advising and representing producers from Italy, Spain and Portugal. Having started her career at Arblaster and Clarke Wine Tours, her love of wine, foreign languages (of which she is fluent in five) and culture led her to spend two years living in Italy and three in Spain studying and enjoying their wines whilst also teaching English. Upon returning to the UK, Forrest spent eight years as a buyer for Laithwaite’s Wine with responsibility for sourcing, blending, brand creation and development from many wine regions, in particular Italy, Portugal, Argentina and the Rhône. In September 2013 Forrest moved to Portugal where she has established her own business and, when not travelling, she is based in Porto.
Beatriz Machado is one of the most highly regarded wine professionals in Portugal and is wine director at The Yeatman, the award-winning luxury wine hotel in Porto. After studying viticulture and enology at UC Davis in California, receiving Wine Spectator’s non-resident tuition grant for her studies, she returned to her native Portugal, teaching courses on wine sensory analysis, and panel performance evaluation in the Douro and the Alentejo. She was appointed wine director at the five star The Yeatman in 2010, where she has been responsible for developing a 26,000 bottle, 1,300 reference wine cellar – the world’s most comprehensive collection of Portuguese table wines and Ports. Under Machado’s guidance, The Yeatman has received international recognition for its wine programme, winning the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in 2012 and 2013.
Ben Campbell-Johnston has been in the wine trade for 17 years. After a spate at Oddbins, he worked for two years with the Symingtons in Oporto and the Douro, and then as their brand manager in the UK. Campbell-Johnston currently works as a freelance consultant, mainly with Portuguese and fortified wine producers, and is also the joint-organiser of the Big Fortified Tasting (with fellow DWWA judge Danny Cameron), the biggest tasting of its kind in the world. In 2013, Campbell-Johnston launched Fizz: The Sparkling Wine Show, the first UK trade show to focus on worldwide sparkling wines.
After successfully managing New Street Wine Shop in London for a number of years, Claudio Martins was recently appointed wine director at Montevino Partners, a fine wine investment company. Martins grew up in the Dao region of Portugal, surrounded by vineyards and spending the school holidays helping the local producers with the harvest. In return, he received a few Escudos but a wealth of knowledge about turning the humble grape into such a blissful drink. Martins’ approach to wine is that it should be kept simple, fun and available so that all can enjoy it. He specialises in Portuguese wines and strongly believes that Portugal has much to offer both as a wine region and for the impressive quality of its wines.
Danny Cameron started his career in the hospitality industry when he trained at London’s Café Royal, before moving on to lead an eight-sommelier team at the Old Course Hotel in St Andrews, and then becoming house manager at Danesfield House in Buckinghamshire. Five years as an independent wine merchant followed, before being appointed to his current role – director at Portugal-specialist Raymond Reynolds Ltd. In addition, he runs an award-winning wine consultancy business, Danny Cameron Ltd, and is the chairman of the Association of Portuguese Wine Importers, a group he founded in 2004. Cameron is also the managing director of the Big Fortified Tasting: the world’s largest tasting dedicated to this category on the world.
Godfrey Spence is a UK-based wine educator who began his career in the retail sector but soon started training staff, leading to him becoming a senior lecturer at the WSET. Now working freelance, he runs wine and spirit courses in the UK and internationally through the-wine-school.com, and also writes regularly on Portugal and Port for national and international publications. Spence is the author of three books, including the Prix Lanson short-listed The Port Companion, which has been translated into nine languages and described by Bruce Guimaraens, director of Taylor’s and Fonseca, as “the definitive book on Port”.
Jane MacQuitty is a wine writer, author, judge and commentator. She started her career as wine and food correspondent for House & Garden magazine, followed by two years at the Consumers’ Association editing the Which? Wine Guide. Since the 1980s, she has been the wine and drink correspondent for The Times newspaper. MacQuitty is renowned for her independent, outspoken stance on the wine world commenting – as one of the country’s top merchants noted, ‘without fear, or favour’.
Joanna Locke MW
Joanna Locke MW came into the wine industry via French studies in the UK. She has worked in a variety of roles, including buying, marketing and PR. After starting in Harrods wine department in London, she spent four years at London wholesaler Michael Morgan. From there, she joined Grants of St James’s in Guildford as an assistant buyer, before moving to Cellarworld and The Fulham Road Wine Centre, working with Angela Muir MW and James Rogers. She passed the MW in 1990, and has served as chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine (2006-2008). In 1991, Locke became a wine buyer at Threshers, moving to PR and marketing roles within the Thresher/First Quench group, before joining John E Fells & Sons in 2000. Since 2004, she has been a wine buyer at The Wine Society, responsible for Austria, Bordeaux, the Loire, Portugal and South Africa.
João Pires MS
João Pires MS has his own consultancy specialising in wine education, sommelier recruitment and wine purchasing for the on-trade. Born in Portugal, Pires worked as a sommelier in Paris, Lisbon, Montreal and Toronto. He then moved to the UK in January 2005 where he continued his profession at the Capital Hotel in London, as wine director for the Vineyard at Stockcross in Berkshire, at Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road and as head sommelier at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London. Pires is currently studying to become a Master of Wine.
Nick Oakley has been in the wine trade for 30 years, starting at wine merchants Lay & Wheeler in Colchester. He then established his own business as a general wholesaler specialising in Portuguese wine, after a ‘road to Damascus’ conversion following a visit there in the late 80s. His company, Oakley Wine Agencies, is today one of the UK’s leading Portuguese specialists, and counts every major supermarket group in its client portfolio. In recent years, the company has also started supplying Portugese wines to overseas markets, including Norway, Ireland, Abu Dhabi and Jamaica.
Written by John Abbott