Find out more about the world-renowned names that make up the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards judging line-up in this Q&A series.
Susan Hulme MW runs Vintuition, her own wine education and consultancy company, based in Windsor. She is a former chairman of the Association of Wine Educators (AWE) and the current editor of the AWE newsletter. Hulme became a Master of Wine in 2005, winning the Madame Bollinger tasting medal for outstanding performance in the tasting exam.
Read our interview with Susan Hulme MW below…
☆ Which year or decade do you wish you’d been born in and why?
I think being born just after the Second World War would have been a good time because there was a great sense of relief from the hardship of war and a new sense of freedom. Also, being a teenager in the 60’s would have been very exciting – there was such a feeling of fun and exuberance and there was a great music scene.
☆ How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’ and what was it?
My first job after university was teaching English to adults in Syracuse. I was 22 and my Sicilian boyfriend at the time used to take me out to these lovely fish restaurants where we would always have the local Sicilian wines. It was all so glamorous and exotic.
☆ How many bottles do you have in your cellar and what is your most recent addition?
I have never counted them, but probably 200 or so at home plus some stored with The Wine Society. Recently a friend brought me six bottles of what he considers the best of Israeli wine to try.
☆ How many years have you been working in the wine industry and what was your first job?
About 20 years – my first job was as manager of Wine Rack and Bottoms Up.
☆ Which vintage and region (or wine) do you wish you’d bought a whole case of wine from?
I love both the 2009 and, even more, the 2010 Bordeaux vintages, but I probably I wish I had a case of the 1982 Bordeaux to see how they are maturing. I have just tasted some amazing 2011 Ports so that is one I may still have time to buy.
☆ In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?
I have been drinking a very wide, eclectic range of grape varieties from Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Turkey, as well as wines from the classic French wines regions. So no particular grape variety has dominated.
☆ In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered and why?
There are several places that I been very excited by recently, but one of them is Italy where there is always something quirky and characterful to discover. I have also re-discovered an excitement for Portuguese wines. Some wines from Portugal are so good and so distinctive, both reds and whites from regions as diverse as the Douro, Dão and the Alentejo. They are producing some really exciting wines, many of them blends of traditional, local grape varieties.
☆ Who’s your wine idol (who has inspired you the most in the wine world)?
Gerard Basset MS MW. For a short period we were both studying for the Master of Wine and I got to know him when I was an MW student and he gave me some advice. I admire the fact that he has worked so hard to achieve the many qualifications and accolades that he has received, in spite of which he is still a very genuine, kind person with great humility, who has the generosity to encourage others. I am proud to be able to call him a friend.
☆ What’s your most memorable wine and food moment?
A couple of years ago I was invited on a short press trip to Alsace by Emma Wellings PR. The first night there we had a fabulous food and wine matching dinner attended by several wine producers where we had two wines per course. There were some stunning wines shown, including a Domaine Weinbach Riesling and a sensational Pinot Gris (often my least favourite grape variety) made by Olivier Humbrecht MW.
☆ If you could taste/drink any wine in the world what would it be and who would you drink it with?
I have always had a soft spot for top quality Bordeaux and some of the best Pessac-Leognan white whites are stunningly good. I also love Grange and the Giaconda Chardonnay from Australia. As for who to drink it with, first and foremost are family and friends so that would include Gerard Basset MS MW and his wife, Nina, but if we could have living or dead famous people, I would chose my favourite writers, D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce and Albert Camus and, from the film world, Francis Ford Coppola. I did a film studies option at university when I was 20 and I must have seen The Godfather Part II about 30 times. I am also sure he would be interesting to talk to about wines.
☆ What are you most looking forward to about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Apart from tasting some exciting wines, I am most looking forward to working with the other judges, many of whom are friends, colleagues or fellow MW’s. It is always interesting to hear fellow professionals’ points of view.
Written by Decanter