To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Decanter World Wine Awards, we're profiling a number of this year's judges, who are some of the world's most renowned wine experts. Our 'Meet the Judges' interview series offers a rare insight into the world of wine and judging from the key industry experts choosing this year's best wines.
Self-confessed Champagne lover Christy Canterbury MW lives in New York and has a strong background in wine business. Read about her experiences in the wine trade in this exclusive interview.
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I am based in Manhattan, but I work on the road about 40% of the time, mostly in Europe. I’m an independent journalist, public speaker and wine judge.
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
I began my career in the wine industry in 2001, as I was leaving finance. I love business, but I was seeking a more fun-loving, life-fulfilling industry.
Initially, I used my business background to develop smaller wine businesses. Within a few years, I was using many of those same business sensibilities to buy for a high-end restaurant group, Smith & Wollensky, where I oversaw $125 million of wine sales annually.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a journalist and public speaker?
Graciousness and critical thinking are paramount.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
Every free-spirited entrepreneur who has made her way in wine, doing what she loves.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
A very large proportion of my most memorable wine moments stem from becoming a Master of Wine – from the crazy amounts of studying to receiving the Diploma.
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
Indigenous Turkish wines, value Burgundy, German Spätburgunder, Mencia, Washington State reds.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
My cellar is always well-stocked with Pinot Noir, especially from Burgundy, Oregon and New Zealand. I adore bubbles, particularly Champagne and Lambrusco. Grüner Veltliner is a perennial favourite, and I’m really getting into Rotgipfler and Zierfandler. In the summer, I often turn to Australian Riesling and Semillon. Finally, I find aromatic Northern Italian reds incredibly utilitarian and utterly gulp-able.
Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
Manhattan is spoiled with wine riches. Along with Londoners, we are the luckiest wine drinkers in the world.
What’s your desert island wine?
Pinot Noir: it can be made into red, white and sparkling! If I must choose one wine rather than one grape, it would definitely be Champagne.
What single piece of advice do you have for people just starting out in wine?
Be open minded and give everyone due respect. The wine industry is a small, global family, and it is of utmost importance to be a good – and contributing – citizen.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
Balance and energy uniting to provide that inspiring “je ne sais quoi”.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Judging some of the planet’s best and the most aspirational wines, from talented winemakers alongside some of the world’s most respected palates.
Written by Decanter.com