Meet the Judges: Richard Hemming

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  • Monday 11 March 2013

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.

Richard Hemming DWWA Judge 2013

Richard Hemming is a London-based wine writer and Master of Wine student. In this interview, Decanter finds out about his inspirations, wine preferences and the memorable moments he's had during his career.

Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I'm based mostly at my desk, but spend as much time as I can tasting in central London.

Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
I'm in the final stages (hopefully) of the Master of Wine qualification, having passed the tasting in 2012 and the theory in 2011. It's an incredibly demanding process, but my understanding and knowledge of wine has been infinitely improved by it! I got into wine by accident, taking a graduate job with Majestic Wine. After six years in retail, I went to Australia to do a vintage and from there developed a career in writing.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a wine writer?
Find your voice. And have diverse income streams.

Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
Anyone who produces great writing, from any genre - Giles Coren, Jancis Robinson, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jane Austen - and countless others.

What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
My first taste of the DRC (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) range last year. Drinking Madeira with Pink and her husband at Gordon's in London. And every wine region I've visited has produced special moments, in all sorts of different ways.

Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
Muscadet is currently top of my list. The 2012 vintage is great, and it deserves much better fortune.

Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
I tend to keep my wine diet very varied at home, but I have a preference for cool climate Syrah.

Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
London has an endlessly diverse wine scene.

What single piece of advice do you have for people just starting out in wine?
Don't get snobby - remember what a simple pleasure wine should be.

When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
Typicality, first and foremost - a strong sense of identity.  

Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Finding wines that really stand out, of course, but also the discursive nature of the judging process, and the sharing of expertise as we judge.

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