Find out about our Decanter World Wine Awards 2014 Regional Italy judging panel with biographies of the Regional Chair Ian D’Agata plus Andrea Briccarello, Andrea Sturniolo, Andrew Shaw, Andy Howard MW, Ben Robson, Bruno Besa, Charles Curtis MW, Christy Canterbury MW, Dawn Davies, Ezio De Bernardi, Jane Parkinson, Marcia Waters MW, Margaret Rand, Michael Garner, Peter Nixson, Simon Woods and Tuomas Meriluoto MW.

Regional chair: Ian D’Agata

D’Agata was named Italy’s best wine journalist in 2012 by the Comitato Grandi Crus d’Italia. He is a regular contributor to Decanter and writes about the wines of Italy, Alsace, Bordeaux and Canada for Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. An award-winning author, he has written The Ecco Guide to the Best Wines of Italy and The Native Wine Grapes of Italy. He is the scientific advisor of Vinitaly International and the director of the Vinitaly Academy, and lectures on Italian food and wine cultural history for New York University’s Food Sciences Master’s program.


Andrea Briccarello

Andrea Briccarello is head sommelier at La Chapelle, the winner of Best Wine List at the National Restaurant Awards 2011. He was previously group sommelier and wine buyer for Corrigan’s Mayfair, Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill, and Lindsay House, and has also worked at Michelin-starred Umu. In 2009 he was named Sommelier of the Year by Taste of London, and he was the winner of the Wines of Roussillon Dessert Trophy in 2010.

Andrea Sturniolo

Italian Andrea Sturniolo moved to London in 1994 and studied for the WSET examinations whilst helping open the London section of the Associazione Italiana Sommelier. Heading back to Italy in 2002, he set up and taught the wine-culture/wine-tasting courses at the International Wine Academy of Rome as vice-director, and during this time he began working with an Italian wine guide and various press and web publications. Sturniolo has been back in London since 2006, has opened his own catering company, Fins & Trotters Kitchen, which won the LLA Street Food Vendor of the Year award in 2013, and is also a consultant for Pall Mall Fine Wine, as well as continuing to contribute to magazines both abroad and in the UK.

Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw has spent his entire working life in the wine trade. Starting in a vineyard in Somerset as a teenager, he spent time with Oddbins as a branch manager in the UK chain’s West Country stores, before making wine in New Zealand and Burgundy. In 2002, he helped set up the award-winning independent wine merchant Stone, Vine & Sun, before joining the wine buying team at Waitrose in 2007, and becoming Buying Manager of Waitrose’s wine department in July 2010.. In October 2012 Shaw has moved to Bibendum as Head of Buying, overseeing the Buying and Commercial team for both On and Off Trade.

Andy Howard MW

Andy Howard MW has over 30 years’ experience as a buyer at Marks & Spencer. Within the wine category he was responsible for Burgundy, Bordeaux, Loire, Italy, North and South America, South Africa, Portugal, England, Port & Sherry. Howard became a MW in September 2011, following his MW dissertation on the UK wine trade’s attitude to Premier Cru Chablis. His key areas of expertise are Burgundy and Bordeaux but, from his buying experience, he has a great respect for the wines of Chile, Argentina and South Africa. Howard lives in London but also has a house in Gaillac, where he made wine for 6 vintages. Closer to home, he has chaired the judging at the annual SEVA awards for the past 7 years. Howard left M&S in 2013 to focus on consultancy through his new business – Vinetrades.

Ben Robson

Ben Robson has always worked in the wine trade. In 1994 he opted for self-employment when he established Bat and Bottle, which he still owns. His company imports wines from small Italian estates and intermittently from France, Spain and Portugal. Ben is also an occasional WSET educator, a regular visitor to Italy who has not missed a Vinitaly since 1996.

Bruno Besa

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.

Charles Curtis MW

Charles Curtis MW is an 18-year veteran of the wine trade and has held a variety of posts over the years, but his professional career began as a chef, trained in Paris, after which he worked in restaurants around the world. In October 2004, Curtis became the 22nd Master of Wine in the United States and he has held the role of head of wine for Christie’s in both the Americas and Asia. Curtis writes regularly for the Chinese version of La Revue du Vin de France and he has been a contributing editor to books and magazines on wine, as well as a featured speaker at dozens of wine and food festivals. Curtis currently advises on fine wine to private, trade and institutional clients through his company CurtisMW.

Christy Canterbury MW

Christy Canterbury MW is a journalist, speaker, judge and educator based in Manhattan, New York. Her articles have been published in Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, Food Arts, Beverage Media and TASTED, among other magazines and blogs, and she is the Italy editor for the Professional Wine Reference, and consulting editor of the GOURMAND AWARD-winning book Rock and Vine. As a frequent public speaker, Canterbury’s 2013 appearances included VINEXPO, the Cool Climate Chardonnay Festival in Niagara, the Balkans International Wine & Spirits Competition & Fair in Sofia, Austria Now! in Manhattan and TEXSOM. Upon becoming a Master of Wine, Canterbury received the Villa Maria Award for outstanding performance in the viticulture examination.

Dawn Davies

Dawn Davies joined Selfridges as its first sommelier in March 2007 and is now the company’s wine and spirit buyer. Previously, she worked as head sommelier, and then restaurant manager, at The Ledbury restaurant in Notting Hill and as sommelier at the Square Restaurant in Mayfair, both in London. Before that, she was head sommelier at Boxwood Café (Gordon Ramsay) and Zuma. At Selfridges, Davies assists clients in selecting that special case of wine, gives advice on how to set up a new cellar, or helps with the growth of an established one.

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.

Jane Parkinson

Jane Parkinson is an award-winning wine writer and communicator. Working freelance, she’s a wine expert for BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen Live, wine editor-at-large of Restaurant magazine, the wine expert for Stylist magazine, wine reviewer for 60 Second Reviews and is releasing her debut book, Wine & Food, this autumn. Parkinson is the IWSC Communicator of the Year 2014 and is a member of The Wine Gang, a group of five experts who host consumer fairs and review wines each month on She hosts tastings at consumer fairs such as the BBC Good Food Show and the Ideal Home Show, as well as privately for restaurants and wine merchants. Parkinson also has her own website, on which she posts her published features, recommends wines, and writes restaurant reviews.

Marcia Waters MW

Marcia Waters MW works for The Oxford Wine Company, consults to the trade and is chair of the education and examination board at the Institute of Masters of Wine. She became a Master of Wine herself in 1990, and in the past Waters has worked as a buyer for Victoria Wine and Tesco, run the UK office of Vergelegen and Boschendal, as well as working for Rothschild Wine at Waddesdon Manor.

Margaret Rand

Margaret Rand is a past editor of Wine Magazine, Wine & Spirit International and Whisky Magazine. She now writes for World of Fine Wine, Drinks Business, Decanter and the FT among others, and is general editor of Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book. She is working on a new edition of Grapes and Wines, and in 2013 won the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year award.

Michael Garner

Michael Garner has worked in the wine business for more than 30 years and has specialised in Italian wine for more then 25 years. He is the co-author of Barolo: Tar and Roses, is a regular contributor to Decanter and has taught for the WSET. He lives in rural Devon with his family and two large Briard dogs.

Peter Nixson

Peter Nixson joined British Airways as an airline steward in 1973 – having never drunk a glass of wine in his life. Through his job he visited places including California, South Africa and Australia at the time when their wine industries were starting to become established. His interest in wine grew and, in 1982, he began to take courses at the WSET and earned his diploma with honours in 1986. The following year, he joined BA’s newly created wine department taking over its management in 1989. For the next 20 years he was responsible for the selection of all BA’s wines – over 450,000 cases a year – including the Concorde cellar. Nixson left BA in 2009, worked for Vinum, a specialist importer of Italian wines and currently owns wine consultancy firm Airline Wine Consultancy.

Simon Woods

Simon Woods abandoned a career in computer systems design in 1988 to join the wine trade, thus indulging his two hobbies of wine and writing. In his twenty-five years of communicating about wine, Woods has been a columnist for The Financial Times’ The Business magazine, and five-times editor of the annual Which? Wine Guide. He was voted International Online Wine Columnist of the Year at the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards 2010 for his work on, a site offering a combination of tasting notes, rants and videos, and his books include the award-winning I Don’t Know Much About Wine But I Know What I Like.

Tuomas Meriluoto MW

Tuomas Meriluoto MW is managing director and partner in one of the leading wine importers in Finland, Winestate Oy. In his business, Meriluoto is working in co-operation with some of the best known wine producers around the world, including Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Cono Sur, Hess Family Estates, Masi, Miguel Torres and Symington Family Estates. Besides his daily job,Tuomas also works as chairman of the Association of Finnish Alcoholic Beverage Suppliers (SAJK), representing 32 most important Finnish alcohol companies. He also lectures on wine, has contributed to several magazines, produced a wine tasting DVD and participated in the production of a wine, food and travel TV series and book. Meriluoto graduated as Master of Wine in 2009, being the second-youngest person ever to graduate as an MW.

Written by John Abbott