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.
In this exclusive interview find out more about Igor Sotric, one of this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards judges, including his ‘desert island’ wine and who has been the biggest inspiration during his career…
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I’ve been working as the Head Sommelier at China Tang at the Dorchester Hotel, London, for the last five years.
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
I was studding microbiology back home in Croatia, and on arrival in the UK my first job was in a wine shop. I had an epiphany when tasting Chablis 1er Crus, and I realised that the corkscrew would be the tool for rest of my career.
After working in the wine shop, I moved into the restaurant world and I’ve stayed there ever since. I’m still enjoying it like I did in those first days.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
The usual suspects: Jancis Robinson MW, Oz Clarke, Steven Spurrier, Bettane and Dessauve. Gerard Basset MS MW is a true Sommelier legend, and I guess we all look up to him as our biggest influence.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
There have been so many great moments, including wine trips, winemaker dinners, and meeting celebrities and royalty whilst working.
I visited Château Cheval Blanc and tasted older vintages from Cheval Blanc and Château d’Yquem with Pierre Lurton, and then tried to make a blend for their Argentinian venture, Cheval des Andes – this ended up being a real fiasco.
My happiest moment in last few years was making my own Chardonnay blend with Marijan Simcic in Goriska Brda, Slovenia.
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
Those from up-and-coming regions such as Croatia, Czech Republic, Turkey and China.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
I just bought mixed case of Zind Humbrecht wines and really enjoy older Alsace Rieslings.
What’s your ‘desert island’ wine?
2001 Chateu de Beaucastel, Grand Cuvée Hommage, Chateaneuf-du-Pape by Jacques Perrin.
What single piece of advice do you have for people just starting out in wine?
Always express yourself and do not get bullied by more experienced wine tasters and master spitters. Try to find positive things in wine rather than negative.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
Those ‘desert island’ types of wines, and wines which represent true terroir, value for money or wines which are in a league of their own.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Meeting the cream of the UK’s palates, sharing experiences with other judges and comparing the new vintages with previous ones.
Written by Decanter