Find out about our Decanter World Wine Awards 2014 UK judging panel with biographies of the Regional Chair Stephen Skelton MW plus Andrew Shaw, Oz Clarke, Rebecca Palmer, Richard Hemming and Sue Daniels.
Regional chair: Stephen Skelton MW
Skelton started his career in wine in 1975. After 12 months at Schloss Schönborn in Germany’s Rheingau and two terms at Geisenheim Wine School, he returned to the UK in 1977 to establish Tenterden Vineyards in Kent, where he made wine for 23 vintages. He was winemaker at Lamberhurst Vineyards from 1988–1991. Skelton is a consultant to the English wine industry and is involved with planting vineyards for the production of sparkling wine. He became a Master of Wine in 2003.
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.
Oz Clarke’s wine career began when he captained the wine-tasting team for Oxford University. After graduating, Clarke spent a number of years as an actor and singer before turning to writing professionally in 1984, by which time he was a leading West End actor. He has been wine correspondent of The Sunday Express and The Daily Telegraph and written many award-winning books on wine, including Oz Clarke’s New Classics, Wine Atlas, Bordeaux, Let me tell you about wine, Grapes & Wines (co-authored with Margaret Rand), and Pocket Wine Book (now in its 22nd edition). Clarke was a presenter of BBC TV’s Food and Drink programme where his remarkable tasting ability has won him great notoriety, and more recently he joined Top Gear’s James May for Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure, of which three series were aired on BBC2, followed by two with comedian Hugh Dennis. Clarke lives in West London, where, when not writing about wine, he likes to avoid drinking altogether (except for the occasional pint from one of London’s craft breweries), playing any sport he can lay his hands on and dreaming wistfully of lying on a palm-fringed sandy beach somewhere near to the equator.
Rebecca Palmer is associate director and buyer for the Corney & Barrow Group based in London, Hong Kong and Singapore. As head of commercial buying, she is responsible for the core portfolio of both Corney & Barrow’s merchanting and wine bars businesses, covering all world regions except Bordeaux. Prior to working for Corney & Barrow, Palmer was a buyer at Direct Wines (Laithwaites), specialising in France and South America. A modern languages graduate, she has worked in the wine trade for 17 years.
Richard Hemming is a freelance wine writer and educator. He has written for JancisRobinson.com regularly since 2008, and has a fortnightly column in Off Licence News. He has also been published by the Financial Times, Decanter, The Drinks Business, Harpers Wine & Spirit, and The World Of Fine Wine. Alongside writing, Hemming runs events and wine courses for companies and private clients. His previous roles in the wine industry include six years of UK retail management, viticultural assistant work at a leading estate in Kent, and surviving (just) the 2008 vintage in McLaren Vale as a cellarhand. Hemming began studying for the Master of Wine qualification in 2009, passing the theory exam in 2011 and the tasting exam in 2012. In what little free time is left, Hemming plays the piano a bit and cooks enthusiastically.
Sue Daniels is Marks & Spencer’s winemaker for Champagne/sparkling, fortified, Spain, Portugal, England, Burgundy and South Africa. She has looked after sparkling and fortified wines for Marks & Spencer since 1996, and is currently studying for her Master of Wine while simultaneously bringing up three children.
Written by John Abbott