Meet the Judges: Bob Campbell MW
- Tuesday 5 March 2013
In this interview, find out about Decanter's new Regional Chair for New Zealand, Bob Campbell MW...
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I live in Auckland, New Zealand for around eight months of the year. The rest of the time I lead a fairly nomadic existence, roving the globe to research, teach and write about wine.
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
I am an accountant by qualification (pause for Monty Python jokes) and joined Montana Wines as a number-cruncher many years ago. Because I worked for a wine company, my friends assumed I knew something about wine - I didn't. I joined a wine club and became a more promiscuous wine drinker. It didn't take long to become totally hooked.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while working in the wine industry?
Drink at least a glass-and-a-half of water between each glass of wine.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
Hugh Johnson's book 'Wine' is still the most inspiring wine book I have ever read. If there was any doubt that I would make a career out of wine, it dissipated when I read 'Wine'. Jancis Robinson has always been my mentor – I am in awe of her encyclopaedic knowledge and ability to translate complex concepts into terms that anyone can grasp.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
A vertical tasting of 36 vintages of Chateau d'Yquem going back to 1929; my introduction to the Chinese wine industry, and Pinot Noir 2013 – a four-day wine event in Wellington that was described by more than one international guest as 'the greatest wine event in the world'.
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
Riesling, Riesling and Riesling.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment? Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
I am drinking what I always drink - leftovers. Each month I invite winemakers and wine importers to submit wines around a theme. Last month it was Sauvignon Blanc, so that's what I'm currently drinking. It allows me to re-taste some of the better and more controversial wines with food - an often eye opening experience.
Auckland does have a strong wine scene, fuelled to some extent by having wine regions such as Waiheke Island and Matakana on our doorstep.
What’s your desert island wine?
Pinot Noir. I was recently asked to name the wine I would choose to drink if I had to go to the guillotine tomorrow. I nominated 1985 Mugnier Musigny - double magnum.
What single piece of advice do you have for people just starting out in wine?
Organise a few wine-interested friends to meet once a month. Each should bring a bottle of a nominated style e.g. Chardonnay and you can make the evening as social (unmasked bottles with minimal discussion) or as serious (masked bottles with a vote for best wine) as you like. It’s lots of fun and a surprisingly effective way to learn a lot about wine in a short amount of time.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
All the usual things (such as intensity, balance, length, texture and complexity), plus an X-factor that lifts it above other correct but less inspiring wines.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Catching up with old friends and making new friends.