Find out about our Decanter World Wine Awards 2014 Rhone judging panel with biographies of the Regional Chair James Lawther MW plus Antony Moss MW, David Roberts MW, David Round MW, David Vareille, Gearoid Devaney MS, Jamie Hutchinson, John Switzer, Jonathan Kinns, Laurent Chaniac and Mark Williamson.

Regional chair: James Lawther MW

Lawther is a contributing editor to Decanter as well as an independent wine writer, lecturer and tour guide based in Bordeaux. He sold wine at Steven Spurrier’s Les Caves de la Madeleine in Paris in the 1980s, and his early career also involved stints as a cellar hand in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Roussillon and Western Australia. In 1993, Lawther became a Master of Wine. He is author of The Heart of Bordeaux and The Finest Wines of Bordeaux, and has contributed to books including Wines of the World, Oz Clarke’s Bordeaux and Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book.

Judges

Antony Moss MW

Antony Moss MW is director of strategic planning for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). His current role covers long-term business planning and new product development, and he was previously responsible for the WSET’s textbooks and other education materials. Moss has worked for the company since 2004 and was the author of Wines & Spirits: Looking Behind the Label. Moss joined the wine industry in 1998 as a part-time sales advisor for S.H. Jones in Leamington Spa, and completed his WSET diploma in 2003 while working for Sainsbury’s supermarkets. He won the Austrian wine marketing board’s prize for both his WSET diploma and MW, and he is now a member of the education committee for the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW), supervising one of their two European second year residential programs.

David Roberts MW

David Roberts MW has 20 years experience in the wine trade. Following 10 years as buying director for Berry Bros and Rudd, and three years as head of buying for Lay & Wheeler Ltd, Roberts set up David Roberts Domaines Ltd in 2005. In March 2010 DRD merged with Goedhuis & Co, to further develop their joint private client wine businesses in the UK. Roberts also acts as wine buying consultant for the Fishmongers’, Clothworkers’ and Merchant Taylors’ Livery Companies.

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.

David Vareille

David Vareille was raised in Chablis, and his career began at the age of 16, when he worked in the Michelin-starred La Salamandre, spending much of his time in the cellars establishing a love for fine wine. A career working with some of the best chefs in Burgundy, Bordeaux and Spain followed. Vareille moved to the UK in 2004 as head sommelier at L’Enclume in the Lake District and has since worked at the Hotel du Vin group and the Bleeding Heart before, in 2010, joining Bar Boulud as head sommelier for the opening of chef Daniel Boulud’s first UK restaurant. With a focus on Burgundy and the Rhône Valley, as well as new world selections, this was a natural move for Vareille, taking him back to his roots. Vareille believes Bar Boulud is a combination of his three great passions: fantastic food, fantastic wines and the best guests you can dream of.

Gearoid Devaney MS

Gearoid Devaney MS works at Flint wines, an independent merchant based in London. He was named Restaurant magazine’s Sommelier of the Year 2007, UK Sommelier of the Year 2008, and is now a Master Sommelier. He was head sommelier at London’s Capital Hotel and has additionally worked at London’s l’Oranger and the 3 Michelin starred Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. In 2003 he assisted Tom Aikens in opening his signature restaurant and was part of the team instrumental in the restaurant winning a Michelin star.

Jamie Hutchinson

Jamie Hutchinson is the managing director and co-founder of independent wine merchant The Sampler. After a career in venture capital, Hutchinson opened The Sampler in Islington in 2006, followed by a South Kensington branch in 2011, and plans to open other shops in the future. Hutchinson’s passions are Sherry, traditional Rioja, grower Champagne and Beaujolais, while his weaknesses are for wines with personality and that go against normal commercial conventions. Hutchinson is also the holder of the WSET Rafael Balao Lustau Memorial Trophy and won the WSET Cava and Penedes Wine Institute Bursary.

John Switzer

John Switzer is a wine writer and educator based in Toronto, Canada. He is director of the WSET diploma program at the Independent Wine Education Guild in Toronto, a frequent speaker at wine events in the Toronto area, and is a member of the Society of Wine Educators.

Jonathan Kinns

Jonathan Kinns has been in the wine trade for over 30 years, having developed an interest in wine whilst working temporary jobs at Harveys of Bristol and a Mayfair restaurant. Following a degree in philosophy, and studies in art history and contemporary dance, Kinns won the Rhône prize during his studies for the WSET diploma. After a long period with Michael Druitt Wines in buying and sales roles, Kinns has run his own agency and importing business, Winegrowers Direct, for the past 18 years, which sells wines from all regions of France, with an emphasis on the Rhône and Burgundy, and from Spain.

Laurent Chaniac

Laurent Chaniac is food and wine consultant to The Cinnamon Club and Kitchen in London, exercising his expertise in matching wines to Indian cuisine (previously described as a sommelier who “has pioneered some revolutionary ideas on pairing wine with the constantly evolving Indian flavours”). Chaniac has also worked in various managerial positions with some of London’s finest dining experiences, including L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, The Square Restaurant and The Stafford Hotel.

Mark Williamson

Mark Williamson founded Willi’s Wine Bar in Paris in 1980 and also owns the next door restaurant Macéo. His wine preference is for Rhône, but he has never refused a good sherry or a fine Mosel Riesling. He is involved with Oregon producer Evening Land Vineyards making fine Pinot Noirs & Chardonnays. In 1982 he started the Willi’s Bottle Art Collection – an ongoing poster series of visual emotions that celebrate the pleasures of wine. Williamson recently opened a holiday retreat, B.CasaMi, in the Tramuntana mountains of Mallorca, one of the Balearic islands of Spain.

Written by John Abbott