Decanter World Wine Awards 2010 - The judges
Steven Spurrier joined the wine trade in 1964 as a trainee with Christopher and Co, London's oldest wine merchant. In 1970 he moved to Paris where he opened Les Caves de la Madeleine, which rapidly achieved recognition as one of the most highly regarded specialist wine shops in Paris. In 1973 he opened L'Academie du Vin, France's first private wine school, and went on to stage the famous Paris Tasting of 1976, when a Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from California scored more highly than some of the most prestigious wines of Burgundy and Bordeaux.In 1988 Spurrier returned to the UK where he became a wine consultant and journalist. Today his roles include a director of The Christie's Wine Course, which he founded with Christie's Education in 1982, wine consultant to Singapore Airlines and consultant editor to Decanter, to which he contributes monthly. He has received several international awards for wine writing including the Bunch Prize and Le Prix de Champagne Lanson, both for his articles in Decanter. He is the author of several books on wine, and his latest, The Clarke-Spurrier Guide to Fine Wine (Websters International Publishers, 1998), was updated and reissued in 2001. That same year Spurrier was awarded Le Grand Prix de l'Academie Internationale du Vin (only the third time the award has been made since its creation in 1982) and The Maestro Award in honour of André Tchelistcheff. In 1988 he was made Le Personalité de l'Année (Oenology) for his services to French wine. He is a regular judge on the international wine tasting circuit. His latest wine ventures including the planting vines on his own estate in Dorset (in order to make a sparkling wine) and his involvement in The Wine Society of India, the country’s first mail order wine club.
'By judging on comparative quality first regionally, then internationally, in panels of three and flights of no more than ten wines, with specialist judges present throughout, the results of the Decanter World Wine Awards will have complete validity for both the consumer and the producer.'
Tom StevensonAlsace (Panel Chair)
Tom Stevenson has written 23 critically acclaimed books, chalking up 32 literary awards in the process. He has specialised in Champagne since 1980, with his 1986 title Champagne (Sotheby's Publications) establishing his credentials as a leading expert in this field. He is the author of The Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia (first published in 1988 as Sotheby's World Wine Encyclopedia), which has sold over 700,000 copies in more than a dozen languages and is used as a standard reference for Master of Wine and Master Sommelier examinations all over the world. In 1998 his Christie's World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine (Absolute Press) made history by being the only wine book ever to be mentioned in the leader of a national UK newspaper. The Guardian picked up on the book's uncovering of a 17th century document that proved beyond doubt that the English used a second fermentation to convert still wine into sparkling wine at least six years before Dom Pérignon set foot in the Abbey of Hautvillers. Tom has judged at other major competitions in France, Germany, Greece, Australia and the USA.'Being regional chairman for Champagne and Alsace at the world's only terroir-focused international wine competition is a fantastic experience. (See also Champagne)
Nick Clarke MWAlsace
Nick Clarke originally wanted to become a journalist, however, in 1960 he joined Hedges & Butler where he began his life in wine as a trainee. However, after this family company was bought out by a major UK brewery, he was able to rise to the number two buyer for Bass Charrington, where he could concentrate on wine buying. He passed his Master of Wine exams in 1971 at the first attempt.
In 1978 he joined Henry C Collison and was appointed Managing Director in 1981. He then moved onto O W Loed as a director working with clients all over Western Europe including Alsace. More recently he has been busy reinventing Dreyfus Ashby & Co with new agencies.
After a French education at the Lycée in London and a degree in History, Marcel joined the retail wine trade where he learnt the nuts and bolts of selling wine on the shop floor.
In 1986 he joined The IEC Wine Society as buyer, where he has since specialised in the wines of Alsace and Southern France, including the Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon, Beaujolais and the South-West. During his time The Wine Society has become an important shipper for all these regions and has played a significant part in making these wines better known to over 100,000 members of The Wine Society who buy each year. In recognition to Marcel’s services to French wine, he was made Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole.
Marina Gayan MWArgentina (Panel Chair)
Marina Gayan is Argentina’s only master of wine. She has been a London resident for more than a decade and is the owner of Marina Consulting, a company that advises on wine strategic matters.
Although wine was always around Marina’s upbringing her wine career path started by chance. Whilst working in public relations and planning to move to Milan to study theory of design a friend asked her for a favour: could she go to an interview with a Dr Nicolás Catena. Little was she aware that she was meeting Argentina’s top wine producer and her future mentor. It only took a month on the new job and a trip to Mendoza to define her professional future.
After 7 years of working for Catena and in her quest to learn more about wine she moved to London to do the Master of Wine programme. In 2003 Marina became South America’s first Master of Wine receiving the Villa Maria award for the best overall paper on viticulture and winemaking.
In London she worked for BRL Hardy as Head of Brands and for Constellation as Vice President of its premium wine division. This gave Marina first hand knowledge and access to premium wine regions in the new world.
Marina’s background has defined her passion for understanding and enjoying wine in context; with family, friends, conversation and a meal. She greatly enjoys travelling with her family and learning as much as possible about cooking and flavours.
Gerd Stepp (also judged Italy)
Terry has been involved in the fine dining industry for 15 years and left his native Vancouver 8 years ago to pursue his passion for wine in London. After a stint as head sommelier at Richard Corrigan's Lindsay House he joined Chez Bruce in 2004 as head sommelier and wine buyer, a position he held until 2010. Terry returns to Vancouver annually as acting sommelier and wine advisor to the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, one of the world's largest consumer based wine festivals, and acts as a fine wine and restaurant consultant in the U.K. and Canada. (Also judged Chile)
Fabricio Portelli is a professional sommelier (ASI) and has been a wine journalist since 2000. He has also been the wine editor of some of the best wine & food magazines in Argentina throughout the last eight years. Since 2008 he has been the director of El Conocedor multimedia (an organisation that includes a magazine, a website, TV, radio, fairs, books, and wine guides). Since 2002 he has judged in several international wine competitions including Vinitaly, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, and, for the last three years, the Decanter World Wine Awards. He travels around the best wine regions to taste wines. He loves wine and works hard every day to be the most recognized refrence for Argentinian wines, not only in his country but in the rest of the World.
Andres (35) is one of Argentina's first professional sommeliers and founding member of the Argentine Sommelier Association, of which he is currently president. He is a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers and is in the process of getting his Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. He is also the Secretary of the Panamerican Sommelier Alliance, and a member of the Didactic Committee of the International Sommelier Association (ASI).
Andres judges in international wine contests in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and China, as well as the Decanter World Wine Awards. He tastes for the Austral Spectator Argentine wine guide and is a contributor to Placer and UVA magazines in Uruguay and Chile respectively, www.layemadelgusto.com, a leading website in Peru, and other publications. He has hosted and still participates in various radio, TV, and media programs.
He has organized wine fairs, founded Argentina’s first wine auction house, and managed the wine programs of the Gran Bar Danzón wine bar and Villa Hípica restaurant – where his wine selection won several awards and recognition.
Last, but not least, Andres is the Managing Director of the Los Arbolitos Vineyard Trust, a 409 hectare finca in the heart of Uco Valley, Mendoza, where he is coordinating the planting, development and operation of a top-end vineyard.
Mel Jones runs www.QuaffersOffers.co.uk and is putting the finishing touches on her MW dissertation. She started in the wine trade shortly after leaving school and has been running wine courses and writing about wine since the mid-nineties. While she appreciates the quality of great wines, Mel leaves their description to those with more in-depth and specialist knowledge and prefers to bring to life the every day wines, from supermarkets and off-licences, which are better than expected and great value for money. Her website is a searchable list of wine special offers, with tasting notes and forum discussions on the great wine buys and the dreadful disappointments.
Mel feels that the men and, particularly, women standing in the wine aisles with no idea what to buy need help and advice more than those whose cellars are heaving with gently evolving grands crus. Quaffers Offers is now phone-friendly and so can be used in situ, with your elbows resting on your trolley.
Mel is a passionate sherry lover, choosing the subject for dissertation and master classes around the country. When sherry is fantastically popular and the wines we snap up today for £10 to £20 a bottle are edging towards £50, Mel wants you to know that she always knew the day would come. “Undervalued” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Mel also has a weekly wine slot on BBC Radio Gloucestershire – a light-hearted recommendation of a couple of wines for the weekend – and in her spare time, is a performance poet.
Anthony RoseAustralia (Panel Chair)
Anthony Rose is the wine correspondent of the Independent, for whom he writes a weekly column. He also writes a regular auction column in Decanter Magazine and teaches the Leiths School of Food & Wine certificate course in schools. He travels extensively, as wine correspondent of the Independent, and as a wine competition judge. He has judged wines in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, California, Japan, Germany and France - and the UK. He writes regularly for Decanter and contributes to The World of Fine Wine and the Oxford Companion to Wine. He has won several awards for wine writing including three Glenfiddich Wine Writer of the Year Awards and, most recently, the Louis Roederer International Wine Columnist of the Year 2007. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking, and good eating and taking snaps. He is married to Charmaine Grieger, an Australian wine photographer, and lives in Southfields, London.
Simon Thorpe MWAustralia
Simon has more than 20 years’ experience in the wine trade, with roles in as diverse a set of companies as Fortnum and Mason, Waitrose and Constellation Europe, before settling at Negociants UK where he is Managing Director (since Dec 2009). Simon has been an MW since 1997 and a member of Council of the Institute of Masters of Wines for the past 9 years. (Also judged Spain)
Alessandro started his career in the hospitality business as a bartender in his hometown Venice, working as bartender and waiter in various local restaurants, including the Cipriani Hotel.
He moved to London in 1999 and worked at Kensington Place restaurant in Notting Hill for 4 years where his passion for wines from everywhere in the world lead him to study to become a Sommelier.
In 2003, he won the Dan Pontifex Award, which sponsored a 6-week course in Australia and gave him the opportunity to discover Australia’s regions and learn direct from its wineries.
On his return to London in 2003, he moved to Zuma to work as Sommelier.
In 2006 he was awarded Harpers and Queen UK Sommelier of the Year.
Since joining Zuma, Alessandro has built up both a comprehensive cellar and a successful and informed sommelier team and now holds the position of Group Sommelier and Wine Buyer for Zuma and Roka international. He is responsible for the wine operations of both restaurants in London, Asia, the US and the Middle East.
Since 2004 he is business partner with Jordi Masdeu and co own Mas la Mola, a boutique winery in Priorat.
Matt Wilkin MSAustralia
Originally from Adelaide South Australia, Master Sommelier Matt Wilkin arrived in the UK December 1998 following a number of years learning his trade in Australia and France; he currently consults a Wine lead Gastro Pub in West London called The Princess Victoria whilst planning a major career move soon to be announced. Since its conception Matt has taken the Princess Victoria to win London’s Time Out title of Best Gastro Pub 2008, the Morning Advertisers Pubchef Best Newcomer of the Year Award 2008 for The Top 30 UK Gastropubs, followed shortly after with The Drinking Out Excellence Awards for UK Wine Pub of the Year 2009.
Prior to the Princess Victoria project Matt was the London On Trade Sales Executive at Genesis Wines for 2 ½ years where he contributed many years of On Trade experience through his Executive Sommelier role at the Michelin two-starred Capital Restaurant and Hotel Group Knightsbridge, where he oversaw wine purchasing, liaising with suppliers, staff training; private event wine tasting’s and cellar management for 6 operations. His dedication to his trade has been recognised through a number of high profiled awards and academic achievements including: Champagne Trophée Ruinart UK Sommelier of the Year 2005, MS Diploma The Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide, WSET Diploma, The Dom Perignon Award of Excellence 2004, Wine International Sommelier of the Year 2002, Harpers & Queen / Moët & Chandon UK Sommelier of the Year 2002, Hunters & Frankau 2002 Cigar Travel Award Scholarship, The Gosset Champagne Trophée Cèlébris 2002 for Best Wine List UK and most recently Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK at The Australia Day Awards Australia House London alongside Gill Hicks (Australian of the Year in the UK) and Sir David Attenborough (Honorary Australian of the Year). (Also judged Germany)
Sam has been in the wine trade for 14 years, including roles as Tastings Co-ordinator for Wine Magazine before becoming a buyer for Direct Wines in 2005 and most recently joining Constellation Wines as a Wine Development Manager in 2008. She has passed her Master of Wine exams and is working on her dissertation.
Pierre Mansour (also judged Spain and USA)
Brett has been involved with the wine industry for more than 30 years. Australian, living in the UK and having worked in Australia, Argentina, France, UK, USA and Russia, he certainly has a very global perspective of the wine industry! His passion and enthusiasm for fine wine is very refreshing and he loves to share his knowledge. Brett has also been a senior International Wine Judge for more than 25 years.
Having graduated from Australia’s most prestigious wine school, Roseworthy College, he has worked importing and retailing many of the great wines of the world before having more than a decade with LVMH (Moet & Chandon) in Australia, Argentina and the UK. Currently Brett is working with many of the greatest wine estates in the world including Guigal in the Rhone Valley and the best Domaine’s in Burgundy, Italy and Spain along with his personal favourites from Australia and New Zealand and the USA.
Brett is a regular wine educator and was a contributor to television and radio for many years in Australia. He now contributes to a number of international journals, teaches at sommelier schools and loves to talk to consumers and share his passion of wine! His experience and knowledge of wine make him one of the best communicators to any audience. For entertainment or serious education, it flows naturally from the heart.
David Gleave MWAustralia
David Gleave is managing director of Liberty Wines, a U.K. importer of wines from Italy, France, New Zeland, Australia and many other countries. He was born and educated in Canada but has lived in Europe since 1978. He passed his M.W. exam in 1986, and has written widely on Italian wines. He lives in London when not travelling.
Andrew Shaw has spent his entire working life in the wine trade. Starting in a vineyard in Somerset while a teenager, he has since spent time with Oddbins as Branch Manager in West Country stores before working a vintage at Matua Valley Wines (NZ) and in Burgundy. In 2002 he helped set up award-winning Independent wine merchant Stone, Vine & Sun before joining the prestigious Wine Buying team at Waitrose in January 2007 where he is currently 'Buying Manager - Wines'. Responsible for Australia, the Rhone, South of France and Italy his passion is for authentic, indigenous wines that represent a sense of place. [mention Semillons? – OS]
John Hoskins MWAustralia
John was born into a family of hoteliers but had no intention of joining his relations, studying English literature instead. However, he took over the family's wine-buying while studying for his exams and became the first person in the restaurant business to become a Master of Wine. In 1994, he formed his own company - Huntsbridge - a group of Chef-run restaurants offering top quality wine and food in an informal setting. He now owns a single hotel-restaurant: The Old Bridge at Huntingdon, Cambs.
Thomas joined Laithwaites Wine in 1997, having been in the wine business full time since 1984 with Victoria Wine in wine marketing and then buying. He got the wine bug after grape picking in Cognac as a student and then a holiday job as a van driver for an André Simon wine shop. Thomas currently buys Australia, New Zealand and Argentina and also manages the buying team on a day to day basis.
Jamie Hutchinson is the Managing Director and co-founder of The Sampler, the independent wine merchant recently named Decanter’s Small Independent Retailer of the Year 2009 and Decanter Readers’ Choice Small Merchant of the Year. After a career in venture capital, he followed his love of wine to give up a proper job and start a wine business in 2006. He hopes that The Sampler will allow customers to be more adventurous in their wine choices and buy something great rather than just good by allowing them to try before they buy. The Sampler started with a single site in Islington in 2006, which will be joined by a second in South Kensington in 2010, and more in planning.
Jamie heads up buying for The Sampler and so by necessity regularly tastes wines in all styles and from all areas, but his particular passions are Sherry, traditional Rioja, Grower Champagne, and Beaujolais, and he has a particular weakness for wines with personality and that go against normal commercial conventions. Jamie is the holder of the Rafael Balao Lustau Memorial trophy and Cava and Penedes Wine Institute Bursary from the WSET.
Tim Wildman MW (also judged Regional France)
Michelin-Star Chef Roger Jones owns The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, whose Wine List graces the top of every Wine Competition. Jones combines his kitchen duties with his love of wine and frequent visits to Australia to enhance his 350 Australian wines from his 1,000 total bin list. Jones also consults and advises numerous companies including The Hakkasan Restaurant Group.
Last year he was made a 'Fellow' of The Master Chefs of Great Britain, and works with Swindon & Westminster Culinary Colleges as well as visiting schools all over the South and taking in young apprentices to The Harrow. Recently, trained staff from The Harrow have gone on to work for The
Dorchester, The Ritz and The Fat Duck. Besides all this he still manages to get to watch the Welsh Rugby team in action.
Hamish Anderson, Head Sommelier and Wine Buyer for Tate, has been working with us for over nine years. Hamish started his career in wine at Bibendum, the original Conran restaurant in the Michelin building, and then combined this with a more formal education from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust giving him the ideal grounding for his later success. Hamish's first book VINO: GREAT WINE FOR EVERYDAY LIFE was published in October 2003, selling over 15,000 copies. The book's down to earth approach to food and wine has won critical acclaim from the amateur and expert alike.
Giles MacDonoghAustria (Panel Chair)
Born in London in 1955, Giles MacDonogh went to school in his home town and for a brief time in Suffolk. He continued his education at Oxford and the University of Paris, where he did research into the historical origins of the wine trade. It was during the years he lived in France that he began writing about wine. He returned to London in 1985 and has lived by his pen ever since. He was for many years a contributer to the Financial Times and has also written for the Guardian, the Times and the Evening Standard. He has been a regular columnist for Decanter and contributed to specialised wine magazines all over the world. He has also appeared on the television and broadcasted on wine in Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Australia, Canada, Bulgaria and the United States. His first book - A Palate in Revolution - was published in 1987. He is the author of fourteen books in all, four of which are about wine. His first love was for the wines of the Rhone Valley, but since then his gaze has wandered increasing to the far side of the Rhine, and the marvellous purity of the Riesling grape as it is expressed in the wines of the Rhine and Mosel Valleys. In 1989, he was asked to contribute to a book on the new-wave wines of Austria, which was the beginning of a close relationship that has endured to this day. MacDonogh has written two books on Austrian wine and more articles about it than he can remember. (Also judged Germany)
Jason, originally from Devon, moved to Vienna to work with wine in 2002 after his degree in languages. There he joined Wein & Co, Austria's leading fine wine retail chain, and climbed the internal vine from sales assistant to marketing manager within 3 years. Jason is now self-employed as an Austrian wine expert and writer based in Vienna, and continues to hold wine seminars. (Also judged Germany and Italy)
Anthony Barne MWAustria
Anthony Barne MW made the small step from the Army to the wine trade in 1978, having developed the interest while serving on the Governor of Gibraltar's staff. His wine trade career started in a wine shop, followed by a brief spell working at Domaine Thenard in Burgundy and Seppelts in South Australia., His career until 1992 was in mail order and wine buying, first with Hicks & Don, for whom he still acts as buying consultant, and then Harveys of Bristol. Since then he has been a wine auctioneer, currently working for Bonhams in London as UK Head of Wine. As an auctioneer Anthony’s main pre-occupation is with the classic wine regions of France and also Vintage Port and Madeira, but he has many other interests which include Austria, for which he is a judge at the Decanter Wine Awards, He has recently been appointed as the Auctioneer for the Nederburg Auction.
Timothy Johnston was born in 1949.he entered the wine trade in 1966 with Findlater, Mackie & Todd, then as a trainee with hedges & butler in regent street. Between these two jobs, he spent eight months working as a slave on Third Growth Margaux vineyard, Chateau Cantenac Brown. Working the vines with horses and lots of hard cellar work. Exiled to France in august 1969 for ten years in Aix en Provence working for British based company exporting wine to the United States. Followed by a period of working harvests in California: with Chateau Montelena 1978, Jordan vineyards 1980 and a private deal with iron horse grapes at bill wheelers winery. A year and a half as regisseur at Domaine de Saint Jean in Villecroze, Provence and a couple of summers helping run the French Laundry in Yountville with the Schmitt’s (before Keller). In 1981 he joined Mark Williamson to work at Willi’s, forming grapes with Williamson in 1984 and opening juveniles in rue de Richelieu in 1987. In the early nineties it was discovery time for Australia, with the first "wineflight of a lifetime" in 1992 and back to work harvest at Cullen in the Margaret River the following year.
In 1998 the partnership with Mark Williamson came to an end and since then Johnston concentrates on juveniles, specialising more and more on foreign wines, especially screw caps, as well as the wines of the Rhône and Provence.
James Lawther MWBordeaux (Panel Chair)
A contributing editor to Decanter, James Lawther is an independent wine writer, lecturer and tour guide based in Bordeaux. He retailed wine at Steven Spurrier's Les Caves de la Madeleine in Paris in the 1980s, and has lectured at the Academie du Vin. His early career also involved stints as cellarhand in Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Roussillon and Western Australia. He became a Master of Wine in 1993. He is the author of The Heart of Bordeaux and The Finest Wines of Bordeaux and has contributed to a number of wine books including Dorling Kindersley’s Wines of the World, The Global Encyclopedia of Wine, Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book and Oz Clarke’s Bordeaux.
Gareth Birchley ran the wine society at the University of Bath before graduating in 2006, making the move to fine wine trader Bordeaux Index. In addition to private client sales he is the Champagne and German buyer and also structures the company’s wine events program. At just 25 years of age he is the youngest taster at the DWWA (?) and was named as one of Jancis Robinson’s “stars of the future”.
Peter joined British Airways as an airline steward in 1973 – having never so much as drunk a glass of wine in his life! Through his job he was able to visit places such as California, South Africa and Australia just at the time that their wine industries were starting to establish themselves. His interest in wine grew and in 1982 he started formal studies, through the WSET, which culminated in him receiving a Diploma with Honours in 1986.
In 1987 he joined the newly created Wine Department at BA and in 1989 he took over the running of the department. For the next twenty years he was responsible for the selection of all BA’s wines – over 450000 cases a year – including the Concorde Cellar, the finest collection of classic wines ever put together by an airline. Peter left BA in 2009 and now works for Vinum, a specialist importer of Italian wines. (Also judged for Languedoc-Roussillon and Hungary)
Helen McEvoy (also judged Spain)
Matthieu Longuère MS (also judged Regional France)
Supplemented her undergraduate income as a chef and initially studied wine to complement her love of cooking. Her wine career began at the sharp end, managing a store (heaving boxes about) for one of the multiples. She then joined Scotland’s oldest wine merchants, Whighams of Ayr, in 1989. When Corney & Barrow bought Whighams in 1994, Alison continued in Scotland before moving to London as associate director of buying in 1998. Passionate about wine, Alison recognizes the need to see it in a wider business context. To this end she studied for an MBA which she completed in 2005.
Hugo Rose MWBordeaux
Hugo joined the wine industry in 1982 after a brief career as a 'garagiste' (motorcycle mechanic). After almost 20 years with UK fine wine merchants Lay & Wheeler, he set up his own consultancy offering a variety of commercial and intellectual services to the wine industry. These include expert advice, project development and implementation, cellar maturity evaluation and corporate presentations. He is a frequent contributor to wine journals in both the UK and abroad, most recently on the subject of wine investment. He became a Master of Wine in 1992, serving as Chairman of the Institute in 2002.
Chee Wee LeeBordeaux
Lee Chee Wee is the founder of Vino Cave, a Singapore based wine distributor company that has been appointed to represent some of the best producers from Burgundy, Rhone Valley and America.
Chee Wee was bitten by the wine bug when he tasted a 1970 Y’quem on his fourth day in the wine trade and it spurred him on to thrive in the wine industry.
After working five years as a wine distributor, Lee joined leading supermarket chain, Cold Storage, as the Category Manager of Beer, Wines & Spirits. Following the 3 years at Cold Storage, he began his tenure with a public listed company, Auric Pacific Fine Wines, as their General Manager.
A year later, he decided to start his own wine company after securing the exclusive distribution for some the great domaines and wineries such as Harlan Estate, Colgin, Abreu, Kistler, Quilceda Creek, Coche Dury, Armand Rousseau, Ramonet, Comte de Vouge, Dom Rolout, Chateau Rayas, Henri Bonneau.
Over a decade, he completed the Certified Wine Specialist Program, Burgundy Wine Educator Accreditation Program by Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne (BIVB) and has been in the panel of judges for World Gourmet Summit for Excellence for Sommelier Scholarship, Conseil Interprofessionnelde vin de Alsace (CIVA) and a regular guest speaker for Singapore Airline In-Flight Sommelier program. (Also judged Middle East, Far East & Asia, Loire)
Born in Gloucestershire, England in 1949 Christopher Cannan was educated in the UK followed by further studies in Switzerland, Germany and Spain. After a short spell at Lloyds in London (International Reinsurance), Christopher decided he wanted to enter the wine trade, use his languages and exploit his fascination for the subject.
With the help of the London based importer, Percy Fox & Co., Christopher spent most of 1970 travelling to all the main wine producing areas of Europe, earning his board and lodging by working in cellars and vineyards. It was during this trip that Christopher found employment as assistant to the export director of a leading Bordeaux negociant, Louis Eschenauer S.A.
At Eschenauer Christopher made his first travels to sell wines. The markets covered included the Channel Islands (where he received his first order in January 1971), the UK, Denmark and one very interesting trip to the USA lasting a month. During this trip Christopher spent two weeks with a retailer in Washington D.C. (Calvert Wine) and 2 weeks with a leading New York based importer (Austin Nichols).
The appeal of the USA and the desire to work with top quality wines encouraged Christopher to change his employment to that of assistant to the managing director of Frederick Wildman & Sons in New York. Based in Margaux, Christopher took care of supplier negotiations, new selections, as well as European sales. He travelled extensively in all parts of France, Spain and Italy for supply and all over Northern Europe for sales of wines from companies associated with Frederick Wildman at the time (J. Moreau et Fils, Chablis and Cune, Rioja).
In April 1978, when the Margaux office was closed, Christopher decided to set up his own company and continue the work he was doing for Wildman, but for his own account. Thus on May 1st 1978 Europvin was born. At first the company continued to work with Wildman, at the same time creating a customer base in the UK and Northern Europe. Right from the start the company diversified out of Bordeaux. Wines from the Loire, Burgundy, the Rhone and the Rioja were listed with the Bordeaux’s. The strategy has always been to work with top quality single estates in each appellation represented in the portfolio.
In the early 1980’s Christopher met Becky Wasserman, an American broker based in Burgundy, launching Cannan & Wasserman in the USA. During this period, Becky, working from Burgundy and Christopher from Bordeaux, the pair set up a network of distributors in the USA on a state by state basis. While Cannan & Wasserman ceased to exist in 1986, the network remains in place even today, with some modifications.
Over the years Europvin gradually extended its markets to cover the world … Australia first, closely followed by Japan, Brazil and in the 1990’s the rest of Asia including Taiwan, Singapore and Hong-Kong.
Recently, some new emerging and exotic markets have been opened up: China, Russia, Poland, India, the Baltic States, Peru, Mauritius and the Maldives Islands to name a few.
From the supply side the list continued to expand throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. In France a portfolio of top estates was developed, some in Burgundy and the Rhone are very prestigious. In Bordeaux the company became involved with the Classified Growths market, specialising in the top Chateaux.
The country that has been a major influence on Europvin’s development is Spain. Starting in 1984 Christopher had the opportunity to build a portfolio including many of the most illustrious Spanish producers including : Bodegas Vega Sicilia, La Rioja Alta S.A. and Emilio Lustau – Jerez (the relationship between these three producers and Europvin was so strong by the early 1990’s it was decided to create Europvin Iberia as a joint venture between the producers, their associate companies and Europvin, to help promote their products all together, especially in the USA and Japan.)
Italy, Portugal and Hungary are also important sources for Europvin, again working with high profile producers in each country.
Europvin employs 22 people. The services offered include selection, logistics and helping out both producers and customers with all the specific bureaucratic requirements for each country. Shipments are made to 50 different countries for a total value of more than US$ 17 Million. The USA is currently Europvin’s most important market with a presence in 32 different states.
In 2003 Europvin opened up its capital in order to expand its commercial activities - today the Caballero group, who owns Emilio Lustau in Jerez, is the majority shareholder. Bodegas Vega Sicilia also has a stake in the company.
The philosophy of Europvin has always been, and remains to select the finest possible wines that truly represent their origin.
Christopher’s commitment to Spain was further consolidated by the purchase of his own vineyard in Priorat called Clos Figueras in 1997. With the 2000 vintage a total of 7000 bottles of Clos Figueres and Font de la Figuera (2nd wine), was made by Rene Barbier at his cellar in Gratallops, and was released to the world markets. By 2009 the production level had reached 25000 bottles and was vinified in Clos Figueras’ own bodega in the village of Gratallops.
Today Clos Figueras is recognized as one of the leading estates in Priorat, rated by Robert Parker in his “Buying Guide” as being among the “outstanding” producers in Spain.
Christopher has a strong commitment to France as well as Spain; his services to the cause of French wines was acknowledged in February 1999 by his nomination as a “Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole” by the French government.
Vicki joined the wine trade in 2000. She worked in sales and buying with numerous wine companies including Lay & Wheeler and Direct Wines, before joining Liberty Wines as Buyer in 2008. She has worked in wineries in France, Australia and Argentina, and speaks French, Spanish and Russian. She specialises in several French regions, as well as South America. Vicki is currently studying for her Master of Wine exams.
Alun Griffiths MWBordeaux
Alun Griffiths MW has spent all his working life in the wine trade since leaving University at the age of 22. He is the Wine Director of Berry Bros. & Rudd, London. He was formerly General Manager of Berry Bros. & Rudd’s highly successful Duty Free shop, which opened in June 1994, in London’s Heathrow Airport Terminal 3.
From 1987 to 1992 Alun was Wine Buyer for Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly, and from 1992 to 1994, he was Wine Buyer for Harrods. In 1991 Alun became a Master of Wine. He was also awarded the Madame Bollinger Foundation medal for obtaining the highest marks in the tasting section of the Master of Wine examination.
For four years Alun was a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine Education Committee, acting as a tutor to aspiring Masters of Wine, and has also served on the Institute’s Events Committee, which organises tastings and functions to broaden the knowledge of wine in the U.K.
He also acted for 7 years as an examiner for the Practical Paper in the Master of Wine examination.
Alun lectures frequently on wine in Britain, Japan and Hong Kong, and has been a panel judge at the Decanter World Wine Awards Competition since its inception. He has acted as a member of the Buying Committee for Emirates Airlines, voted by an independent panel of journalists as possessing the 4th best wine list of all the world’s airlines. Alun speaks and writes French fluently and has been honoured by the following French wine producing confreries: Le Jurade de St. Emilion, Les Hospitaliers de Pomerol, La Commanderie du Bontemps du Médoc et des Graves and the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.
Andrew joined Oddbins in early 80s, managing various London shops. He was Bentalls wine Buyer from 1988 to 1996 before moving onto become Selfridges' head wine Buyer in 1996. He joined McKinley Vintners as General Manager in January 2007. He has been in the wine business for 30 years. (Also judged Southern & Eastern Mediterranean)
Damian joined Sotheby’s in 2000 having spent several years with Berry Bros & Rudd. Early in his career at Sotheby’s, he was instrumental in collecting, shipping and cataloguing the wines for the hugely successful “Great Collection” single owner sale of June 2001. He has since been responsible for putting some of the most exciting collections onto the auction market, including the historic Château d’Yquem ‘super lot’ sold in April 2008 for £368,000 ($724,371), a record for a single lot sold at Sotheby’s London.
His role at Sotheby’s involves providing valuations for private vendors and trade alike, advising collectors, investors and wine enthusiasts and inspecting cellars across the UK and Europe. The expertise he has garnered over the years has helped him become one of the most highly respected experts in his field.
Damian’s passion for wine has taken him through the highly regarded WSET education programme and in June 2003 and 2004 he sat the Master of Wine examination. He hosts regular lectures on wine tasting, the fine wine market and wine as an alternative investment; allowing his passion and knowledge of wines from around the world to flourish.
James is Senior Trading Manager of Wine Networks, an international fine wine merchant based in London, and has over 12 years of experience in the wine trade having worked for Oddbins, Moët et Chandon in Champagne, Château Loudenne in Bordeaux, Sotheby's Wine Department in New York and has been in London selling fine wine to private and trade customers since 2002.
James holds the Diploma in Wines and Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, the Diplôme Universitaire d'Aptitude à la Dégustation des Vins from the University of Bordeaux, has passed the Practical (tasting) section of the Master of Wine Examination and is currently studying for the Theory section.
Nicola Arcedeckne-Butler MWBordeaux
Nicola Arcedeckne-Butler MW studied Italian at Edinburgh University before staring her wine trade career at Majestic Wine Warehouses in 1987. Moving to Corney & Barrow in 1988, she rose through the company helping to set up the broking department before becoming the company’s wine buyer, tasting and buying some of the greatest wines in the world. Nicola passed the prestigious Master of Wine exam in 1996, collecting the Villa Maria Viticulture Award along the way for her viticulture paper and she now holds the responsibility of chairing one of the notorious MW exam theory papers. In 2005 Nicola joined the founding team of independent wine merchant Private Cellar, where she is Buying Director. Fluent in French and Italian, she travels extensively to visit suppliers and is as comfortable in the New World as the Old World. An accomplished teacher, public speaker and presenter, Nicola is often commissioned to host wine tastings and events and she also acts as a tour guide for the wine travel company Arblaster & Clark.
Michael SchusterBurgundy (Panel Chair)
Michael Schuster studied wine tasting in Bordeaux where he gained the University Tasting Diploma. After creating an award-winning retail business in the early 1980s, he went on to work independently as a wine writer and lecturer and now runs his own wine school at Bordeaux Index, in Hatton Garden, North London. He lectures to both amateurs and professionals throughout the UK and abroad. He is on The Wine Society's management committee and was elected a member of the Academie Internationale du Vin in 2002.His books include a translation of Emile Peynaud's Le Goût du Vin, Understanding Wine and the multi award-winning Essential Winetasting. He writes regularly for The World of Fine Wine, occasionally for Decanter. 'The Decanter World Wine Awards will give the opportunity to help highlight quality and value for money in a region whose wines can give enormous pleasure, but where reliable buys, especially in red wines, are neither easy nor regularly perceived as good value for money.'
Katherine Dart MWBurgundy
Katherine passed her Master of Wine exams in 2006. she started in the wine trade with Oddbins in 1999, then for Burgundy specialist Domaine Birect. She is now at Richards Walford.
Jeannie Cho Lee MWBurgundy
Born in Korea, Jeannie Cho Lee's interest in wine began at Oxford University and compelled her to take wine classes whenever she had the chance. She writes regularly for various international magazines, including Wine Spectator, The World of Fine Wine, and Revue du Vin. An in-demand judge at international wine competitions and an educator, Jeannie has been teaching Wine and Spirit Education Trust courses since 2004. Jeannie is working towards her Master of Wine and is also a Certified Wine Educator. (Also judged Spain)
American-French Canadian born Denise has spent the past 22 years in fine wine. Having moved to London in 1984, she decided to combine experience in finance with the passion of wine. After a decade in international banking and several years as a finance officer for a private energy company, in 1988 she began creating cellars of fine wine from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone Valley for discriminating collectors worldwide. With a base in the Beaujolais, particular interest is focused on the Burgundy region.
Sebastian Thomas found his way into wine after a career in book publishing. He started out selling wine to New York restaurants, and was fortunate that the sommeliers at the time knew even less than he did. He moved to England in1995, and worked for Laytons before joining the Burgundy specialist Howard Ripley in 2000. Since then, the portfolio has grown to include Pinot Noir from New Zealand, Oregon and Switzerland, as well as a broad selection of German wines.
Andy Howard is a wine buyer at Marks & Spencer, responsible for buying Burgundy, Bordeaux, Loire, Italy, South America, North America, South Africa, Portugal, England, Port & Sherry. He has passed both the theory and tasting parts of the Master of Wine exam and is currently working on his dissertation, regarding the UK Wine Trades attitude to Premier Cru Chablis. Andy has worked for M&S for thirty years, with the last three in the Wine category. However, his love of wine stretches back over two decades, promoting him to set up a wine tasting club and to embark on various wine qualifications prior to embarking on the MW. He also spent six years making wine at a small vineyard in Gaillac, France where he owns a property. Andy's main loves in wine are Burgundy and Bordeaux but also feels strongly about the quality and potential for the wines of Chile and Argentina. He was also responsible for M&S starting to sell English wines, along with their premium Sherry range. Current priorities within M&S are to revamp both the South African and Fine Wine ranges for the Autumn. (Also judged Italy)
Philippe’s achievements in the world of wine are impressive. At London's Hyde Park Hotel he worked closely with Marco Pierre White, becoming the youngest ever Head Sommelier of a three star Michelin restaurant. At the Atlantic Bar and Grill, he bought wine for the Oliver Peyton Group, creating a wide variety of ground breaking wine lists. He has opened his own restaurants, L'Etranger (2003) and Papillon (2006). Won Harpers & Queen’s UK Sommelier of the Year 2004. And, perhaps most tellingly, he has helped to make award-winning wines, giving him a breadth and depth of understanding few could match in the industry.
He is a co-founder of Sarment – a private sommelier service offered to a limited number of members globally with no more than seventy-five memberships released each year. Based on a simple idea, Sarment takes the finest sommeliers from the world’s top restaurants, and makes them available to a select few. Each private member has a dedicated personal sommelier and enjoys unparalleled access to advice and service on all aspects of wine buying, tasting, education, storage and investment. It’s a fresh, new and extraordinarily dynamic approach to experiencing and buying wine. (Also judged Regional France, Rhône)
Richard Bampfield MWBurgundy
Richard Bampfield graduated in French from Cambridge in 1981 and immediately decided the wine trade was where he could put the language to best use. He managed retail wine shops in the North West of England for JW Lees Brewers for 7 years, then spent a year getting his hands dirty in vineyards around the world, also working in wine cellars in California and Australia. Having passed the Master of Wine Exam in 1990, he joined the Australian producer, Brown Brothers, and managed their European operations until 1999. He left them to set up his own company, with his wife Jackie, specialising in public relations and offering wine talks, tours and courses. Principal clients include Yvon Mau (Bordeaux), the Wine School at Chateau Preuillac, Albert Bichot (Burgundy), Dom Perignon Champagne, Leith’s School of Food and Wine, Great Western Wine and the English Wine Group. Richard is currently Chairman of the Association of Wine Educators and is the European Champagne Ambassador 2009.
Tim Sykes, Director of Buying at Enotria, has been in the wine business for 20 years. Having studied law at the Sorbonne and having qualified as a solicitor, he gave up the enticing prospect of a lifetime sorting out divorces and reading commercial leases to work in a wine shop (La Vigneronne) in Kensington. After much tasting practice and some succesful results in the WSET Diploma - winner of the Thresher Scholarship and McNie Tasting Prize - he moved to O.W. Loeb for a four year stint combining buying, selling and more tasting. In 1996 Sykes joined Enotria as French Buyer, and shortly afterwards took on the additional responsibility of New World purchasing; in 2004 he was made Director of Buying. He now heads up the team of five buyers, but continues to buy Burgundy, Rhône and Alsace, and handles relationships with some of Enotria’s more high profile suppliers. Outside his wine career Tim Sykes enjoys travel, never having managed to shake off the post university back-packing travel bug. He is also a keen (if rather average) sportsman, playing squash, tennis and the occasional round of golf. Commuting to work on his bicycle keeps him reasonably fit, and is a good antidote to all the eating and drinking that is forced upon him in his job.
Edward Tim Marshon MWBurgundy
Tim entered the wine trade with Oddbins in 1997, having developed an interest in wine while studying Classics at Oxford University. Thereafter he worked for Lea & Sandeman, The Winery, Wimbledon Wine Cellars, and Richards Walford in a variety of sales, management and buying roles. In 2006 he joined Bibendum Wine Ltd as a buyer. His areas of responsibility include most of the northern hemisphere, with a particular focus on France. Tim became a Master of Wine in 2009 after completing a dissertation on Oregon Pinot Noir. His other interests include choral singing and playing the trumpet. (Also judged Rhone)
Tony AsplerCanada (Panel Chair)
Tony Aspler has been writing about wine for over 30 years. He was the wine columnist for The Toronto Star for 21 years and has authored fifteen books on wine and food, including Tony Aspler's Cellar Book, The Wine Atlas of Canada and Vintage Canada. In December 2007, Tony was awarded the Order of Canada. In February 2001, Tony co-founded the charity Grapes for Humanity which raises money through the wine community for the victims of landmines and children with disabilities. Tony is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers. (Also judged South Africa)
Steve Thurlow is a Senior Editor at Wine Access magazine, Canada's national Wine and Food magazine. He co-founded the International Value Wine Awards with Anthony Gismondi and was its director for its first 2 years. Steve is a judge at many international wine competitions and has judged for many years at the Canadian Wine Awards. In 2001, Steve established his wine education business, Wine for Life which teaches consumer, restaurant and corporate groups about wine. Find out more at www.stevethurlow.com.
Barbara Philip MWCanada
Barbara Philip MW is a Portfolio Manager at the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch in Canada, and is responsible for selecting European wines for the BC Liquor Store chain. Barbara has a long history working as a sommelier and wine educator and, in 2007, became the first Western Canadian to achieve the Master of Wine designation. In addition to her role at the BCLDB, Barbara works as a freelance lecturer, radio columnist and wine judge through Barbariain Wine Consulting, a company she runs with her husband Iain. (Also judged Spain)
Joel Butler MWBurgundy
A graduate of Stanford, Joel came back to Europe in 1972, beginning his 38 year career in the wine industry by visiting wine producing regions and doing a harvest in Burgundy. In 1973, he entered the wine trade with a noted retailer in San Francisco. Butler subsequently became a wine importer, Buyer/Manager, and sales manager.Butler subsequently became a wine importer, then as sales manager for a small but vibrant Bay area distributor/importer. In the early 90's, he was the wine buyer for a key Bay Area restaurant/retail store. In 1977, Butler started writing professionally on wine for VINTAGE magazine. Subsequently, he wrote for FRIENDS OF WINE, LOS ANGELES TIMES, THE SUNDAY TIMES OF LONDON, THE INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR and other publications. He began making wine (non-commercially) in 1980, producing many award-winning wines at the California State Fair and Orange County Fair. Butler became one of the first two Americans to pass the rigorous Master of Wine examination in 1990. He is now President of the Institute of Masters of Wine, North America, Ltd., coordinates the annual North American seminar program and also is an instructor for the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) courses. Most recently he was the Director of Education, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Washington, and continues to consult. (Also judged Portugal and Italy)
Cental & Eastern Europe
Angela Muir MWCentral & Eastern Europe (Panel Chair)
Angela Muir started her career with John Harvey and Sons of Bristol, shortly after leaving Bristol University a degree in politics and economics. After eight years there she spent 10 years as a buyer with Grants of St James's, and Victoria Wine, during which time she visited most of the world's vineyards – and wrote the text for the company's desk and pocket diaries. In 1988 she set up her own company, a prize-winning wine shop and school. Cellarworld International – a centre for consultancy, buying, selecting, blending and project management – followed, and Cellarworld Argentina in 2002. Angela also lectures in French, English and Spanish on wine production and the UK market. She is an MW of over 30 years' standing, a past chairman of the MW Education Committee, and past president of the Wine and Spirit Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.'This is an irresistible oportunity to group wines from this huge area together in one place and get an overall picture of what's emerging. Individuals and investors are beginning to realise some of the fantastic potential that exists out there, and the range of styles is changing and beginning to define itself. Who wouldn't want to be in on the early days of this renaissance?'
Elizabeth Gabay MW (also judged Croatia and Languedoc-Roussillon)
Caroline Gilbey MWCantral & Eastern Europe
Dr Caroline Gilby MW is a freelance writer specialising in Central & Eastern Europe. She contributes to several publications including Decanter, Opus Vino, Oxford Companion to Wine and Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book. She has a PhD in plant sciences but left life behind a microscope to become senior wine buyer for a major UK retail chain. Caroline also works as an independent consultant to the wine trade and wine educator, and judges at several international wine competitions. She has been in the wine business for over 20 years. (Also judged on Slovenia)
Allan Cheeseman (see South Africa)
David Bird MW (also judged Hungary and Czech Republic)
Liz Robertson MWCentral & Eastern Europe
Left advertising in 1974 to start in wine with Rigby & Evens. Passed MW in 1984 when buyer for Green’s of the Royal Exchange. Joined Safeway in 1987 as buyer, staying for 12 years. Consultant since with Angela Muir’s Cellarworld, St Austell Brewery, Vintellect and others.
Tom StevensonChampagne (Panel Chair)
Tom Stevenson has written 23 critically acclaimed books, chalking up 32 literary awards in the process. He has specialised in Champagne since 1980, with his 1986 title Champagne (Sotheby's Publications) establishing his credentials as a leading expert in this field. He is the author of The Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia (first published in 1988 as Sotheby's World Wine Encyclopedia), which has sold over 700,000 copies in more than a dozen languages and is used as a standard reference for Master of Wine and Master Sommelier examinations all over the world. In 1998 his Christie's World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine (Absolute Press) made history by being the only wine book ever to be mentioned in the leader of a national UK newspaper. The Guardian picked up on the book's uncovering of a 17th century document that proved beyond doubt that the English used a second fermentation to convert still wine into sparkling wine at least six years before Dom Pérignon set foot in the Abbey of Hautvillers. Tom has judged at other major competitions in France, Germany, Greece, Australia and the USA.'Being regional chairman for Champagne and Alsace at the world's only terroir-focused international wine competition is a fantastic experience. (Also judged for Alsace)
Essi Avellan MWChampagne
Essi Avellan is the first Master of Wine from Finland and second ever from the Nordic countries. She was awarded the Lily Bollinger Medal as the best taster and the Tim Derouet Memorial Award as the best overall student in the Master of Wine examination. Ms Avellan holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and has been working in the wine industry for over 10 years.
Ms Avellan is the Editor of FINE Champagne Magazine and a contributor to several wine magazines and newspapers internationally. She has co-authored 1000 FINEst Wines Ever Made, writes a bi-annual buying guide in Finland and is now working on an international book on champagne.
Her passion and area of expertise is champagne.
Sue Daniels (also judged Sherry)
Antony joined the Wine & Spirit Education Trust in 2004 having previously worked for Sainsbury’s and S.H.Jones. He became the Director of Research and Development in 2008. During his time at the WSET, he has overseen a series of research projects into the training needs of the wine and spirits industries, including most recently a review of training needs of wine service staff. Previous outcomes of this research include reforms and updates of WSET qualifications, and the development of an intensive training course and qualification in wine education. He has a particular passion for sparkling wines –especially Champagne, and delivers diploma lectures for sparkling wine and Spain. He passed his MW theory and tasting exams in 2007, and is now completing his dissertation on the training of wine service staff.
Outside of work, his main interests are philosophy (Schopenhauer!) and music -especially early 20th Century classical composers such as Berg, Ives, Janacek and Sibelius. He is looking forward to completing his MW and having time to listen to more live music again, and also being able to holiday in non-wine-producing regions.
Nick Adams MWChampagne
I drifted into the wine trade after graduating with a Business Studies degree in 1982 and became an immediate hostage. Waving instantly good-bye to earning any serious money he has ploughed on relentlessly since, culminating in passing the Master of Wine in 1992, thereby ending any credentials to being commercial astute in an instant.
I have been very fortunate to work with some of the most fantastic people and producers imaginable, including Ridge, Henschke, Petaluma, Comte Georges de Vogüé, Bonneau du Martray, Champagnes Bollinger and Pierre Gimonnet, Gaja, Sassicaia, Bruno Giacosa, Ornellaia and Château Lafleur.
I now run my own wine consultancy company – First Glass Wine Services – and am enjoying working with a cross section of suppliers and clients, including significant projects in the On Trade, as well as extensive training and tasting programmes for both the Trade and Private clients.
Dee Blackstock MWChampagne
Dee began her career in the wine trade in 1984 through Gerard Harris Wines in Aston Clinton, the wine side of the famous Bell Inn. She joined Waitrose in 1991 and passed the Master of Wine exam at the first attempt in 1992, securing a bursary scholarship for the Marketing paper. She then went on to study at the Institute of Grocery Distribution Diploma and was awarded a scholarship for overall marks by Safeway Supermarkets. She has been made a Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole in recognition of her services to French wine in her buying role. Dee is one of the four Masters of Wine who sit on the Wine Committee for Government Hospitality (part of the Foreign Office) to help select and grade wines for visiting Heads of State and other dignitaries.
Giles Fallowfield has worked as a freelance writer and editor for 20 years. He is an acknowledged expert on the wines of Champagne, the Champagne region and sparkling wines in general and also writes on restaurants, wine, food and travel. He is a regular contributor to Imbibe and Square Meal Magazine, overseeing their annual Champagne supplements. On the international stage he also writes regularly for Meininger’s Wine Business International, Drinks International and Flavours from France. His work also appears in Decanter, Decanter.com, The Drinks Business, Harpers and Off Licence News. He won the Lanson ‘Champagne Writer of the Year Award’ in 2001 and again in 2003.
Peter RichardsChile (Panel Chair)
Peter Richards is an award-winning wine writer and broadcaster. TV and radio credits include Saturday Kitchen (BBC1), Taste (Sky One) and The Food Programme (BBC Radio 4). Together with his wife Susie Barrie MW, Peter recently established the Winchester Wine School; soon after they were named IWSC Communicators of the Year 2010. Peter writes widely and has published two books: Wineries with Style and The Wines of Chile, reviews of which described him as “illuminating and unpretentious” (World of Fine Wine) and “a polished and fluent writer” (Evening Standard).
Barry is responsible for the quality of own-brand wine at Sainsbury’s from France, Australia, New Zealand and California, and in the sparkling wine category. He holds a postgraduate diploma in winemaking, and has worked vintages in the Old and New World. He is studying to be a Master of Wine. (Also judged South Africa)
Peter Richards (panel chair)
Julie Buckley (also judged Italy and Spain)
Terry Threlfall (also judged Argentina)
Dawn joined Selfridges as their first Sommelier in March 2007. Previously, Dawn worked as the head sommelier and then restaurant manager in The Ledbury restaurant in Notting Hill and as sommelier at the Square Restaurant in Mayfair. Before that she was the Head Sommelier at Boxwood Café (Gordon Ramsay) and Zuma. At Selfridges, Dawn is on hand to help people select that special case of wine, give advice in the set up of a new cellar, or just help with the growth of an established one. (Also judged South Africa)
Roger used to work as a buyer for Oddbins and then moved on to Fuller Smith and Turner to act as a wine buyer controller. After this he took up a role as wine buyer and new product development manager for Western Wines.
He now lives in the south west of France and acts as a wine consultant as well as a non executive director for Stone Vine and Sun.
In 1981 Martin Lam opened Le Caprice as head chef with Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, before moving to L'Escargot as Head chef in 1982. Throughout the 80s L'Escargot was the centre of the wine world in London with tastings, wine lunches and dinners every week. In 1992, he set up Ransome's Dock with his wife. The restaurant is used for tastings and dinners by winemakers from around the world. Martin is an Academician Mentor of the Academy of Culinary Arts and a member of The Master Chefs of Great Britain.
Dirceu Vianna Junior MWChile
London based Dirceu Vianna "Junior" MW is originally from Brazil, where he studied Forest Engineering and Law, before moving to London in 1989. He joined the wine trade in 1990. In 2008 he became the first South American male Master of Wine and received the ‘Viña Errazuriz Award’ for excellence in the Business of Wine. Junior is currently Wine Director for the Coe Group of companies. He is also a wine educator, technical consultant, a freelance writer and has been a judge in many international wine competitions. Junior has been a speaker in several wine international events and has made appearances in South American radio and television. (Also judged Portugal)
Héctor Riquelme is the Johnnie Walker Brand Ambassador in Chile and Sommelier Consultant for the W Santiago and the Cuerovaca Restaurant. Named the Best Sommelier of Chile from 2005 to 2008, he went on to become a semi-finalist in the World’s Best Sommelier competition in Rhodes, Greece in 2007. Today he is the Vice President of the Chilean Sommelier Association, and a frequent judge in national and international wine competitions. He is the co-author of Patricio Tapia’s Descorchados wine guide( Argentina, Chile and Brazil) and contributes to specialized magazines such as El Wiken, Vinos & Mas and Placeres in Chile.
Annette Scarfe started in wine by importing from small French domaines whilst holding down a career as a banker. Her job eventually took her to Singapore where she decided to leave banking and focus on wine. She has since developed a reputation in wine education and consulting for both on and off-trade. Annette is a regular on magazine tasting panels, and a judge on the Decanter World Wine Awards. She is a WSET certified educator as well as a Bordeaux Educator, and prefers to work with her clients’ wine personnel to deliver bespoke training or support. She is currently studying for the Master of Wine.
Darrel is based in Vienna, Austria, and began writing about the wines of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe in 1995, when Hungary´s Tokaji and Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from Austria captured his palate. Since then, he had lived in Budapest and covered extensively the wines of Austria, Hungary, Germany, Croatia, Slovenia and Georgia as well as numerous other countries in the region. His work has appeared in publications including Decanter, decanter.com, Wine Spectator, Wine Business International and Harpers Wine & Spirit. He has also contributed to Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Guide and Austria's wein-pur guide to Grüner Veltliner. He was the English language editor of the book Tokaj, The Wine of Freedom, by Lászlo Alkonyi (Spread Bt, 2000).In addition to his writing, Darrel conducts wine tastings and seminars internationally and judges in several international wine competitions. He translates a wide range of wine texts from German to English. (Also judged Hungary)
Elizabeth Gabay MWCroatia
Elizabeth has worked in the wine trade in various guises since the late 1980’s, becoming a Master of Wine in 1998. She has been based in south east France since 2002, and is now working as a freelance wine writer specialising in the wines of Provence, northern Italy and Hungary for various websites as well as English and international magazines and has judged for a number of international competitions. She is currently completing a book on the history of punch (the drink). (Also judged Central & Eastern Europe and Languedoc-Roussillon)
Igor Sotric moved to the UK and entered the wine industry 14 years ago after studying microbiology. Qualified to Diploma level, he is head sommelier/wine buyer at China Tang at the Dorchester, and has been working with Asian cuisine for some time, previously at the Cocoon and St Martins Lane Hotel. In a free time Igor is also consulting on several restaurants. (Also judged Slovenia)
David Bird MW (also judged Central & Eastern Europe and Hungary)
Göran KlintbergCzech Republic
Göran Klintberg is Swedish, 48 years old and has been working in restaurants for 25 years as bartender, sommelier and manager along with a musical career as singer/songwriter. In 2006 he was elected President of the Swedish Sommelier Association, and started working for the development of the sommelier profession nationally and internationally during 4 years, highlighted of course by the victory of Andreas Larsson in the 2007 World Championship for Sommeliers. After 4 years of representing Sweden as a judge in international sommelier competitions, arranging national competitions, educating at sommelierschools, writing for winemagazines and consulting to hotels and restaurants, Göran started working as purchaser of wine for the Swedish off-trade monopoly Systembolaget in August 2009. He is currently responsible for wines from Argentina and Portugal, Sake and the traditional Swedish aromatized winebased Glögg, similar to Glühwein.
He holds WSET Advanced Certificate and is currently studying Diploma. (Also judged South Africa, Spain and Loire)
Gábor CsekeCzech Republic
Hungarian sommelier, finished his studies in 2005 at the College of Commerce, Catering and Tourism in Budapest where he realized that he wants to work in the wine business. He completed his first sommelier- and WSET-courses in Budapest (Borkollégium) and London. Trained at the famous Gundel Restaurant and Bortársaság, the No.1 wine-merchant company of Hungary. Since 2007 he lives in England, he is the head sommelier of Hotel Great Fosters in Egham, Surrey, after having worked in the 2-Michelin-starred Pied á Terre and the 1901 Restaurant at Andaz Liverpool Street. Gábor represented Hungary at the Meilleur Sommelier d'Europe competition in 2008 in Sofia as one of the youngest candidates. In 2009 he organized a Hungarian dry wine-tasting at the Hungarian Cultural Centre of London for the press and the trade.
He is now studiing for the WSET Diploma, and started to build up his own domaine in the Zala wine region of South-West-Hungary. Gábor, also judged in 2009, is specialized in Central-Europe, especially Hungary, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. (Also judged Hungary)
Giles MacDonoghGermany (Panel Chair)
Born in London in 1955, Giles MacDonogh went to school in his home town and for a brief time in Suffolk. He continued his education at Oxford and the University of Paris, where he did research into the historical origins of the wine trade. It was during the years he lived in France that he began writing about wine. He returned to London in 1985 and has lived by his pen ever since. He was for many years a contributer to the Financial Times and has also written for the Guardian, the Times and the Evening Standard. He has been a regular columnist for Decanter and contributed to specialised wine magazines all over the world. He has also appeared on the television and broadcasted on wine in Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Australia, Canada, Bulgaria and the United States. His first book - A Palate in Revolution - was published in 1987. He is the author of fourteen books in all, four of which are about wine. His first love was for the wines of the Rhone Valley, but since then his gaze has wandered increasing to the far side of the Rhine, and the marvellous purity of the Riesling grape as it is expressed in the wines of the Rhine and Mosel Valleys. In 1989, he was asked to contribute to a book on the new-wave wines of Austria, which was the beginning of a close relationship that has endured to this day. MacDonogh has written two books on Austrian wine and more articles about it than he can remember. (Also judged Austria)
Wine Merchant, Composer and Riesling Revolutionary. After several years in the music business, firstly as a record producer, then as composer for the movie "Orlando" and countless commercials, in 1996 David Motion bought The Winery, the independent wine shop based in a former Victorian Apothecary in London W9. The shelves of The Winery reflect extensive travels around France (with a particular emphasis on Burgundy), Italy, Spain, California and Germany. The Winery has the widest selection of New Wave dry German wines in the UK. In addition to his Riesling missionary work, David is also a keen advocate of the Lunar Calendar. He continues to juggle parallel careers in Wine and Music. Find out more at www.thewineryuk.com and www.davidmotion.com.
Matt Wilkin MS (also judged Australia)
Arabella joined the wine trade in 1979, after leaving university with a BA and a D Phil in Biochemistry, joining Harveys of Bristol to work in their Fine Wine Division, which provided and excellent grounding in all the classic wine regions.
Since then she has worked in many different sectors of the wine trade, based in various locations from the south of England to Scotland, gaining wide experience of the wine business along the way.
She moved to Yorkshire to join Morrisons Supermarkets as Wine Trading Manager in October 2007.
After taking the WSET Higher Certificate and Diploma examinations in the early 1980s, she was awarded the Vintners’ Scholarship in 1983, which gave her first-hand experience in seeing wineries and vineyards in Europe. She passed the Master of Wine Examination in 1986.
Outside of work, Arabella has been a keen sportswoman for a number of years, having run over 40 marathons, and also taking part in triathlon and orienteering events regularly. She also enjoys cookery, cryptic cross words and other puzzles. (Also judged Italy)
Nigel Blundell, formerly Chairman of Siegel Wine Agencies, is now selling and consulting for Awin Barratt Siegel. He has been UK agent for Dr Loosen wines for 27 years and other 'Masters of Riesling', including Donnhoff, Gunderloch, Leitz and JL Wolf, for almost as long.
He started in the wine trade at JJ Norman of Exeter at the end of 1959 (when Château Cos d'Estournel 1952 was 19/6d and Liebfraumilch Blue Nun 1959 17/6d !) and, as he says, all the companies he worked for, except Fortnum & Masons, went out of business soon after he left them! However, he has to keep working to pay for his yacht.
Mark Savage MWGermany
Mark was born in Uganda in 1949 and received an MA in Classics from University College Oxford during which time he was President of Oxford University Wine Circle and member of OU blind tasting team. He gained early wine trade experience with Moet & Chandon, Harrods, O.W.Loeb, and Tanners of Shrewsbury. In 1975 he was awarded The Vintners Scholarship and won the Ruinart Champagne Bursary for research into wine industry of the USA Pacific Northwest. He has judged on several occasions at The Enological Society of the Pacific Northwest in Seattle and also at the Oregon State Fair. He was the director of the first International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon in 1987. Mark passed Master of Wine examination in 1980. He is the author of The Red Wines of Burgundy (1988) and is an occasional contributor to various wine journals, including “The World of Fine Wine”, on whose tasting panels he also serves. He is the owner and Managing Director of Savage Selection, importing wines from small family wine estates in 16 countries.
Nico ManessisGreece (Panel Chair)
Nico Manessis is an expert on wines of his native Greece. He is the author of key reference books on Greek wine, including The Greek Wine Guide and the authoritative The Illustrated Greek Wine Book, and several invaluable maps of the country's vineyards. He is a contributor to the Oxford Companion of Wine 3. During the last 15 years he has written articles on Greek wine for a range of titles, including “Decanter” and its web site, decanter.com, and “International Herald Tribune”. He is the publisher of www.greekwineworld.com. He is co-producer of a documentary film on the vineyard of the volcanic island of Santorini. He teaches at the Université du Vin in France and is a member of the Académie Internationale du Vin. “Being selected as regional chairman is an honour and will provide me with the opportunity to assess the position of today's Greek wine in the real world.”
Steve is buying director of Novum Wines, a specialist importer focusing on restaurants. He was previously at Oddbins, which he left in 2003, where he was buying and marketing director. During his time at Oddbins, he championed Greek wines and was largely responsible for increasing their profile in the UK.
Anne Tupker MWGreece
Anne Tupker became a Master of Wine in 1997 and has been proprietor of Bouquet Wines since 1990. In addition, she gives lectures and tutored tastings on various wine topics, judges at international wine competitions, advises restaurants on their wine lists, takes small groups on visits to wine regions and helps to organise events for the Institute of Masters of Wine. She is also a member of the Wine Working Group at the Hurlingham Club in London.
Stephen Skelton MW (also panel chair for UK)
Maggie McNie MWGreece
Maggie has a wealth of experience in all aspects of the wine trade. She lectures for the Association of Wine Educators on the trade examination courses, as well as for fun in the UK, Ireland and North America. Her top specialities include Champagne (about which she has written a book published by Faber and Faber), Rhône, South of France, Germany and Greece.
Isabelle Legeron MWHungary
Growing up on a vineyard in Cognac, Isabelle spent her younger life tending vines with her family, picking walnuts, figs and making sausages. Today, Isabelle is France's first, female Master of Wine and recently won both the Madame Bollinger Tasting Award and the Wine Woman Award in Paris. She makes regular appearances on television, both domestically and internationally, including presenting her own wine show - Journey into Wine - which is now in its fourth series. She also continues to lead sell-out courses at The Wine School, which she co-founded with London's Divertimenti, as well as run her company Wine Lab that hosts bespoke tasting events. She is particularly interested in natural wine and in raising awareness of these amongst the public. (Also judged Slovenia, Regional France and Languedoc-Roussillon)
Darrel Joseph (also judged Croatia)
Gábor Cseke (also judged Czech Republic)
Luis Capitao is a twenty two year wine industry veteran with vast experience in global wine sales and strategic marketing. As an international wine consultant, Mr. Capitao has worked with top Eastern European wineries to develop export strategies targeting key international markets. He was part of a cross-functional consulting group conducting an assessment of the Moldovan wine sector on behalf of the government agency Moldova Vin, and was selected to present its findings to government and private enterprise industry leaders. Co-founder and Managing Partner of Touchstone Wines LLC, a U.S. based sales and marketing firm, Mr. Capitao’s professional development took place with industry leaders. At Constellation Wines U.S., he held several domestic and international portfolio management responsibilities over a ten year period culminating in the lead role of marketing all Constellation Wines U.S. brands including Robert Mondavi Woodbridge and Blackstone in export markets. At W.J. Deutsch and Sons, in a short three year tenure, he assembled a marketing department and directed the launch of the wildly popular Australian brand, [yellowtail]. Mr. Capitao holds an MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a BA in economics from Rutgers University. He is fluent in Portuguese, speaks Spanish and some French, and resides in Palo Alto, California.
David Bird MWHungary
David Bird started working life as an analytical chemist, working for Colmans of Norwich analysing mustard, soft drinks and baby food. He wasp promoted to Quality Control Manager of the new wine department in 1973, which sparked a huge interest in wine leading to the achievement of Master of Wine with the Tim Derouet Award in 1981. Also became a Chartered Chemist in the same year. Head-hunted for the position of Quality Assurance Manager for Stowells of Chelsea in 1984, he worked at their centre of bag-in-box production at Worksop in Nottinghamshire. Set up own consultancy business in 1994 providing a service of quality management to ISO9001 and wine production audits around Europe. Author of “Understanding Wine Technology” which was first published in 2000 and has become the standard reference book for Diploma and MW students. The third edition will be published in 2010. (Also judged Central & Eastern Europe and Czech Republic)
Rosemary George MWItaly (Panel Chair)
Rosemary George MW joined the wine trade in 1972 and in 1979 became one of the first ever female MWs. She began her career as a freelance wine journalist in 1981 and since then has had articles published in many internationally respected publications including Decanter, Sommelier India and the Quarterly Review of Wines in the US. As a prominent wine writer, she has held the position of chairman of the Circle of Wine Writers and is currently one of the two Vice Presidents. She has now written eleven wine books on different wine regions of the world, including two on Tuscany, most recently Treading Grapes, Walking through the Vineyards of Tuscany. With a second home in the Languedoc, she particularly follows the Languedoc, with her blog www.tastelanguedoc.blogspot.com She has tasted in several top wine competitions including the Air New Zealand Wine Show, and has chaired judging panels in both Chablis and Minervois.
During her 35 years in the Wine Trade, Luciana Lynch held senior positions with leading UK companies such as Hedges & Butler, Findlater Matta, Remy Associés and Enotria, before setting up her own business and consultancy in the late eighties. Her entire career saw her engaged in selling and sourcing wines, especially from Italy. Luciana also played a significant part as an educator. Although now retired, Luciana is still regarded as one of the country's most knowledgeable authorities on Italian wines.
Jane Hunt MW (Panel Chair)Italy
In July 2010, Jane Hunt will complete 33 years working in the UK wine trade. Starting her career in the PR Department of John Harvey & Sons Ltd in Bristol giving guided tours of the Harvey's Wine Museum and tutoring sherry tastings, Jane Hunt studied her way through all the WSET examinations. An internal move to the Wine Department offered greater opportunities to learn about wine. The Vintners' Company Scholarship was awarded to JH in 1981, which permitted three months travel and study in France and Germany. In 1982, JH took on a role as retail buyer for Annabel's Wine Cellars. This developed into a position as buyer for the group of four André Simon shops in central London. JH achieved a pass in the Master of Wine examination in 1985. Nine months of world travel ensued, including a period of employment in Australia with Brown Brothers in Victoria. JH continued to work for Brown Brothers via their agents in the UK, Walter Siegel & Co. Ltd on her return. From 1987 – 1991, JH was employed as Sales & Marketing Director for Paul Boutinot Wines. This period saw the company though a period of significant growth. From 1992 - 1995, JH operated on a 'freelance' basis during which time she wrote a monthly column for House and Garden, co-ordinated and lectured wine courses for Leith's School of Food and Wine, wrote copy for wine lists, leaflets etc. for Sainsbury's, Bottoms Up and Wine Rack, supplied purchasing strategy plans for Wine Cellar, lectured for Christies Wine Courses, acted as wine guide for Arblaster and Clarke Wine Tours – amongst many other activities. Between 1995 – 1998 JH set up and ran 'Wines of South Africa', the generic promotional body for South Africa. During a two-year career break 1999 – 2001 she completed an HND in Horticulture and Crop Technology. She has now runs 'Hunt & Coady' together with her business partner Tina Coady where the main activities are organising major trade tastings for France and Italy and the annual Argentina Wine Awards competition held in Mendoza. She now spends several months of the year in Italy where she produces olive oil at her renovated a farmhouse in Umbria.
Sarah Abbott MWItaly
Sarah Abbott is a consultant, writer and director of Swirl, a provider of engaging wine events and courses for corporate and private clients. She began her wine career in 1996 for a specialist importer of Burgundy, going on to work with boutique and top quality wineries from the New World and Italy. Sarah became a Master of Wine in 2008, and her dissertation focussed on wines from Italy. A love of wine, and food, and sharing the joys of both, runs in her family; both her mother and uncle are chef-restaurateurs. Sarah also consults to restaurants and hotels on wine lists; her latest client was shortlisted for a Condé Nast wine list award. She co-wrote the Burgundy section for “The Wine Opus” a major new wine reference book by Dorling Kindersely to be published in 2010, and is also a reviewer for the The Burgundy Briefing.
Anne is the Italian Buyer at Laithwaites and is also responsible for Portugal, Fortified Wine, Beers and Spirits. Her first love before she really got into wine was languages and she speaks Italian, Spanish, French and what now passes for decent Portuguese. Her first wine job was with Arblaster and Clarke Wine Tours where she worked during University holidays and where she was seriously bitten by the ‘wine bug’. After graduating she did a TEFL course and taught English in Rome for a year and then Madrid for 3 years. She returned to the UK in 2005 and got a job with Laithwaites in their Sales Team. She quickly moved into the Buying Department and have looked after a number of different regions over her time here.
Massimiliano’s grandfather and father were both winemakers, but he started out as a chef. He then set up A Moveable Feast, offering wine tasting dinners, and consultancy work for food and wine businesses. In 2004, he founded FortyFive10° to import and retail Italy’s finest terroir- specific wines.
Marcia Waters MWItlay
Marcia has been in the wine trade for over 25 years, mainly as a buyer, for Victoria Wine and Tesco, amongst other companies. She also had a spell of selling whist running the UK office of Boschendal and Vergelegen, two prestigious South African vineyards.
She worked for Lord Rothschild at the National Trust property Waddesdon Manor for ten years where she was responsible for the wine range. This is also where she gained plenty of experience conducting a wide variety of wine tastings, from the purely entertaining to the formal and the educational including Wine and Spirit Education Trust courses.
Marcia passed the Institute of Masters of Wine exam in 1990 to become an MW and has been involved with the Institute as a member of the Education committee, Council, and its Chairman in 1999/2000. she is currently Chairman of the Education and Examination Board.
Marcia’s new venture, MW2 Wines, is bringing all her contacts and experience together to sell a hand selected range of wines from smaller producers that she feels are exciting and show what new things are happening in the world of wine today.
“Doesn’t have a biog” will email over as soon as he has one
Gearoid Devaney (also judged Langeudoc-Roussillon)
Chris Murphy has worked at M&S for 37 years, the last 27 of them in the Wine Department. He has seen many changes during that time both internally and externally. The Marks and Spencer range comprised roughly 40 wines when he started and stands at over 600 today. The sourcing and procurement of new wines has been a passion over the years. The pioneering visits in the early days, discovering New World region after region to expand the choice for the consumer are very fond memories.
M&S was also at the forefront of varietal labelling, even before wines from the New World made it commonplace in the market. Hitherto bottles were labelled with the name of the region or simply as table wine. It was seen as quite adventurous to make the grape the prominent feature but the company saw it as a way of informing customers about the style and flavour they could expect. Chris was also instrumental in establishing classic appellations as touch-stones in the M&S catalogue, and still today consumers buy Chablis, Chateauneuf and Sancerre almost as brands.
For the last three years, Chris has been working developing the Marks and Spencer Wine Club. His aim is to offer the consumer, integrity, purity and balance in wine. He has always followed mentor Christopher Tatham's mantra of; 'a wine's first duty is to be delicious'.
Sergio De LucaItaly
Sergio De Luca is the Director of Buying for Italy at Enotria World Wine. He has a 30 year experience in the UK market and has been at Enotria over 25 years. Sergio’s family is in farming and all his experience is connected with the wine world, having studied and completed a degree in winemaking in Italy. His passion remains wines in Italy for which, he has got a solid experience and a great cultural background.
Since cutting her teeth with one of Australia’s wine giants in Sydney around 12 years ago, Miriam has been working in the wine industry in both Australia and the UK. Her primary role has been that of a Sommelier but has enjoyed other varied roles within the Industry such as Wine Educator, Off -Trade sales, Brand Ambassador and, of course, Wine Judge. For the majority of the last 8 years, Miriam has worked as a Sommelier in some of London’s top restaurants where she has sought to discover and showcase a diverse range of International wines with a particular passion for Italian wines. Her most recent position held was Head Sommelier at Zuma in Knightsbridge, working with Japanese cuisine and also directing her into the fascinating world of Sake. During her years in the UK, she has dedicated herself to working, researching and travelling numerous wine regions and studying to gain the WSET diploma. She has been grateful for the opportunity to access some of the world’s best and most varied wines with regular tasting of fine and rare wines but is looking forward to relocating to Australia at the end of the year and sharing her food, wine and cultural discoveries.
Gerd's family has been growing grapes in the Pfalz for generations. He has been in the wine trade for 24 years, working in, Germany, New Zealand, Africa (South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nigeria), Italy and UK. Gerd was a winemaker for Marks and Spencer for 10 years before starting up his own vineyard, winery and wine consultancy in 2009. (Also judged Argentina)
Julie Buckley began her career in wine whilst working in the on-trade in Hong Kong. She returned to the UK in 2000 to commence the WSET Diploma and took a job as a wine advisor for Oddbins in 2002. She was quickly promoted to a role as Buying and PR Assistant and then to Buyer in 2006 with responsibility for Chile, Argentina, California, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Fortified and Fizz. She is currently working as an independent consultant for a wine producer in Italy. (Also judged Chile and Spain)
Head Sommelier and wine buyer Italian native Andrea was previously the Group Sommelier and Wine Buyer for Corrigan's Mayfair, Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill, and Lindsay House. He has also worked at the Michelin starred Umu and Connaught Hotel Grill room and was named ‘Sommelier of the Year 2009’ at Taste of London in June, as well as being a finalist in the Jacquart Rising Star Competition in 2008.
Rebecca is Associate Director and Buyer at Corney & Barrow. As head of Commercial Buying, she is responsible for the core portfolio of both Corney & Barrow’s Merchanting and Wine Bars’ businesses, covering all world regions (except Bordeaux). Prior to that Rebecca was buyer at Laithwaites specialized in France and South America. A modern languages graduate, she has worked in the wine trade for over 14 years.
Andy Howard (also judged Burgundy)
Thomas Rooch speaks and writes fluent Chinese, German, English and some Japanese. He graduated from Fu-Hsing College in Taipei, Taiwan, and also holds a Diploma in Hotel Management and Administration from Institut Hotelier “Cesar Ritz”, Switzerland., where he went on to be an Assistant Service Lecturer. Having vast experience in Asia and where he previously worked at the Grand Hyatt Taipei, Taiwan, and the Hyatt Regency Tianjin, China. After this, deciding to return to his home country of Germany, Thomas held various positions, including Manager of the specialty restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Cologne and the Hilton Frankfurt where he was responsible for the opening of The Buddha Bar. In 1999 he joined The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Kapalua, Maui as Food & Beverage Manager and sub-sequent as Beverage Director, before being promoted to the Portman Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai as Assistant Director of Food & Beverage. Moving on to The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai as Director of Food & Beverage in late 2004, Thomas joined The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong as their Director of Food & Beverage in early 2007.
Currently, he is the Hotel Manager of One&Only Royal Mirage in Dubai. Thomas is a distinguished member of ‘The Sommeliers of Asia’, official ‘Ambassador of German Wine’ by the VDP, German Wine Institute, and has been a member of various international wine award judging panels, including the Decanter World Wine Awards since 2006, the Singaporean based Lianhe Zaobao Wine Challenge, and the ICCCW in Beijing amongst others.
At the age of 18, wine started as a hobby whilst working in my father's restaurant business in my home city of Bristol. I started to build up a collection, enjoyed reading, travelling and going to wine tastings. It was when I came to London in 1996 to work for Harvey Nichols for the opening of Oxo Tower Restaurant that I decided to specialise in wine and train as a sommelier. In 1999 I successfully passed the WSET Diploma and won the Harpers Wines & Sprits "Perfect Wine List Award". In 2000 on returning from California I worked as Head Sommelier for the legendary Pierre Koffmann at La Tante Claire. Between January 2003 and March 2006 I was Head Sommelier and responsible for the wine selection at Fifth Floor at Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge. I was nominated three times for best wine list in London. During 2006, I took a four month break to go travelling around Europe and to work the vintage harvest in New Zealand before starting in June 2006 as Wine Buyer and Head Sommelier at Orrery Restaurant. Whilst there I was voted by the readers of Square Meal magazine to be the best sommelier in London for 2007. I am part of the Court of Master Sommeliers (Advanced level). At the end of January 2009 after more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, including twelve years as a top-flight sommelier , I left Orrery to go travelling around Europe and New Zealand (spent one month with winemakers in Marlborough and Waipara) and to focus on setting up my freelance wine consultancy, website, writing and photography. Currently, I am writing for the Borough Market and Marylebone Journal magazines, regularly tasting wines, judging on various panels, blogging, mentoring sommeliers and working on some exciting projects, including WineChap. I am also in process of writing my first book. During 2010, it is my ambition to go for the MW and MS qualifications.
Michael has worked in the wine business for over 30 years and has specialised in Italian Wine for nearly 25 years. He is the co-author of Barolo: Tar and Roses, is a regular contributor to Decanter and has taught for the WSET. He lives in rural Devon with his family and two large Briard dogs.
In 1996, Nick moved to Italy and shortly afterwards entered the wine business hosting wine tours, tastings, and translating brochures and tasting notes. In 1999 he started working for a Puglian wine estate before becoming its sales and marketing manager. In 2003 he joined Bibendum Wine before moving to Vinexus, London specialists in Italian wines in 2006.
Walter started his career in wine as a wine buyer and sommelier in an Italian restaurant in the 1990’s in Berlin. Before moving to London in 2003, he worked a vintage in Chateau Haut Bages Liberal in Pauillac. In London Walter worked for Terence Conran’s Le Pont de la Tour, first as Sommelier then as a wine buyer for its wine merchant, building up taking care of its 1400 bin list and organising more than 150 master classes with winemakers from every corner of the world. In 2008 Walter set up his own company consulting producers from Italy marketing. Based in London and Padua, in his free time he reports on all things Italian on www.jancisrobinson.com.
Margaret Rand is a previous editor of Wine Magazine, Wine & Spirit International and Whisky Magazine. As a writer Decanter is, naturally, her true love, but she is also close to World of Fine Wine and has wild flings with Imbibe and Drinks Business, and the occasional flirtation with the FT. She is general editor of Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book, has just finished editing Jasper Morris's splendid new book on Burgundy, and her latest book, Grapes & Wines (with Oz Clarke), contains everything you need to know and is an utter bargain. (Also judged Spain)
Sebastian Payne MWItaly
He started in the wine trade in 1970 working for Fred May, a shipper specialising in wines of France, Germany and Hungary. He joined The Wine Society in 1973 as Promotions Manager responsible for publications. In 1985 he became Chief Buyer travelling to all major wine regions in the world. He passed his Masters of Wine in 1977. He was Chairman of the Masters of Wine Institute in 1995 and Chairman of Masters of Wine Examiners in 1996. He is also a Chevalier dans l'ordre du Mérite Agricole.
Peter McCombie MWItaly
Peter McCombie is a restaurant wine consultant and writer. An authority on the wines of Italy and Spain he is a frequent judge of wine competitions and is a teacher and lively public speaker. (Also judged New Zealand)
CH’NG Poh Tiong (also panel chair for Middle East, Far East & Asia, and Southern & Eastern Mediterranean)
Doug Wregg, born in New York, but London-bred, chucked in the opportunity to become an English teacher in favour of working first as a restaurant manager, then as a sommelier. Eventually the long hours caught up with him and in 1996 he was offered a job as a sales representative at Les Caves de Pyrène, at that time a tiny three-man-and-one-woman band very much specialising in South West French wines whilst operating out of a small warehouse in Guildford. He has been with them ever since and is now a director of the company and in charge of the sales and marketing team, whilst the Les Caves de Pyrene family has now grown to thirty and is one of the highest profile wine companies in the UK. Outside his main job Doug has consulted on several award-winning restaurant wine lists and written articles for various magazines. Doug is passionate about terroir-driven and natural wines from France and Italy, and is a strong, sometimes outspoken advocate of the artisanal approach to being a wine grower. He is totally self-taught, but believes that knowledge is always useful in that it gives you something to discard later in life.
Luciana Lynch is certainly one of the most experienced and knowledgeable experts of Italian wines.
In 1966 she joined Freddie Matta whose company pioneered Italian wines and Spirits in Britain: “those were the days of harsh, thin reds and quickly oxidised whites, with few exceptions, largely sold to Italian Trattorias”. In the early 70s Luciana joined Hedges & Butler, whose Italian Division did much to establish her country’s wines in the UK retail trade.
While studying for the WSET Diploma, Luciana began lecturing for the Trust and at colleges around the UK , but chose to sacrifice MW studies so she could progress with a senior selling and management career which quickly blossomed, establishing her as one of few senior female executives in the trade. She was, too, one of the first contributors to Decanter Magazine, both as a taster and writer, and played an active and senior role with various trade associations.
Luciana has worked with many of Italy’s leading wineries, witnessing the technological and viticultural revolution which started in the 70s and shook the industry to its core. She is a Tuscan, from the coastal part of the region which is home to wines such as Sassicaia, Grattamacco, and a host of modern classics which rank with some of the world’s finest. She was an early supporter and promoter of Southern wines, especially Puglia and Sicily, and has no regrets for pioneering Pinot Grigio and Prosecco in the UK.
After directorships with Findlater Matta, Eurobrands and Enotria Luciana set up her own company in the late 80s and for the next 13 years became a major supplier to the multiple retail chains, both grocery and specialist.
Burton Anderson, who inspired her at an early stage, described Luciana as “London’s First Lady of Vino”; she is especially proud to have helped women gain acceptance in the wine trade, first overcoming the ban on women attending the W. & S. Trades’ Benevolent Banquet since the ‘70s.
Most of all she relishes the rise in quality of Italian wines, which she helped bring forth.
Having sold her business to PLB in 2000, Luciana Lynch is now retired but remains involved with judging for Decanter’s and other International Wine competitions.
Joel Butler MW (also judged Portugal, Canada)
Ben Llewelyn has worked in the trade for 14 years, he cut his teeth at Oddbins, and moved to Enotria were he gained a true insight into the joys of the Italian wine and restaurant trade. He moved his family out to France in 2007 to experience the life of a vigneron while studying for the Master of Wine program. He set up Carte Blanche Wines to represent as many of the artisanal, terroir focused, winemakers as possible and continues to passionately enjoy the hunt for up and coming stars.
Lindsay joined Thierry’s in 2004 as buying director and is now responsible for buying from Spain, Italy, South Africa, Chile, Argentina and Portugal. Lindsay chose to follow a career in wine in 1988 when she spent her gap year working for Oddbins before embarking on a bil-lingual European Business Studies degree, during which she spent two years in Bordeaux. Lindsay has a strong commercial background, having spent 12 years in the multiple grocer sector where she worked as a senior buyer for Sainsbury’s, passing her WSET Diploma with merit, winning the Italian Scholarship. She also led Tesco’s newly-formed, all-female product development team and was responsible for the launch of the Tesco Finest* wine range. As head of Tesco’s innovation forum, Lindsay helped bring new wine regions, grape varieties and marketing concepts to the UK consumer and developed the use of screwcap with the launch of the Unwind brand, the first quality screwcap range in supermarkets. She has a passion for Italian and Spanish wines and has judged in major wine competitions for over 10 years.
Andrew JeffordLanguedoc-Roussillon (Panel Chair)
Andrew Jefford has been writing and broadcasting about wine (as well as food, whisky, travel and perfume) since the late 1980s, and has won many awards for his work, the latest of which is 'Best Drink Book' from the Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards for Andrew Jefford's Wine Course, published in the UK by Ryland, Peters & Small. He writes a monthly column for Decanter, as well as writing for a wide range of other publications, including The Financial Times. He has just spent 15 months in Australia as a Senior Research Fellow at Adelaide University and Wine Writer in Residence to the Wine 2030 Research Network, and he is currently writing a book on Australia's wine landscape and terroirs based on his time there. He also takes his duties as panel chairman for Languedoc-Roussillon so seriously that he is at present trying to settle in Montpellier with his family. When not working and travelling the wine world, Andrew enjoys nature, music and swimming.
Oz Clarke began his mammoth wine career by captaining the wine-tasting team for Oxford University. He spent a number of years as an actor and singer, including touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and later became wine correspondent for The Daily Telegraph. His eponymous wine books include his award-winning annual Pocket Guide and 250 Best Wines wine-buying guide, New Classic Wines and Wine Atlas and he has won all the major wine-writing prizes in the UK and USA. His recent BBC TV appearances have included three highly acclaimed series guiding ‘Top Gear’ co-presenter, James May around the vineyards of France, California and the UK.
Elizabeth Gabay MW (also judged Central & Eastern Europe and Croatia)
Freelance wine journalist, Isabelle Bachelard is based in Paris where she writes for Revue du Vin de France, Revue vinicole internationale, VSB Guide Cuisine and Cuisine Gourmande. She trained with Steven Spurrier when he had his wine school l'Académie du Vin in Paris.
1982-88 Retail sales at Berry Bros & Rudd Ltd; 1988-90 Director of Horseshoe Wines (New World Agency arm of David Baillie Vintners); 1990-96 Central Buyer, Waitrose Ltd; 1996-97 Commercial Manager, International Wine Services Ltd. 1997-2001 Safeway PLC, Buyer; 2001- Buying Director Laytons Wine Merchants. Website www.jeroboams.co.uk; Current employer (since 2001) Laytons Wine Merchants / Jeroboams Wineshops. (Also judged Regional France)
Nick Sommerfeld (also judged Regional France)
Dominique joined Majestic on a work experience placement in 1986 after completing a five year PhD in Agriculture and Oenology in France. He was soon promoted to the position of buying manager. Dominique joined Thierry’s in 1991 after a chance encounter with founder, Thierry Cabanne and is now buying director for France, Austria, Germany, Australasia and the United States. Since joining the team Dominique has been instrumental in establishing Thierry's as the leading importer of French wines in the U.K. through his passion for quality and value. His vast knowledge of the French wine industry and his passion for French wines is second to none. Amongst many other accolades Dominique is a Chevalier de Tastevin and has judged in key international competitions for many years.
UK Sommelier of the Year 2008, Restaurant Magazine Sommelier of the Year 2007 and now Master Sommelier, Gearoid’s rise to the top of his trade has been meteoric.
Head Sommelier at London’s Capital Hotel at just 23, his passion for wine has taken him from the vineyard to the world’s finest restaurants; from Chateau Rahoul, “to see wine from the start of the process”, to l'Oranger in St James's, and the three-Michelin starred Pierre Gagnaire, Paris. In 2003 he also helped Tom Aikens open his signature restaurant; creating a wine list from scratch that attracted serious media attention, numerous accolades; from Tatler Magazine Sommelier of the year 2004 to Torres Quiz master 2005. He also helped the restaurant win a Michelin star. (Also judged Italy)
Mark’s first foray in to the wine trade came when buying wine for a group of London gastropubs, but following his first visit to Burgundy (where he subsequently worked during the 2008 vintage) he decided that the fine wine trade was where he wanted to be. Since joining Roberson Wine in 2007, Mark has established a centralised buying department focusing on the wines of France and runs the Roberson wine school and fine wine tastings.
Isabelle Legeron MW (also judged Slovenia, Regional France and Hungary)
Roberto della PietraLanguedoc-Roussillon
He was quite easy for Roberto to start a career in the Catering industry; at the age of 15 he was already following his mum Chef to her place of work and learning a few tricks. Then after college he started to work in local restaurants in Italy, there he learned about wine from passionate professionals.
Roberto started his professional career, as Commis de Rang, at the Grand Hotel Moroni in Finale Ligure (Italy) in 1993. After a year he moved to England (Bagshot, Surrey) at Pennyhill Park Hotel, where he spent about 7 years, firstly as Commis de Rang and his final position was Sommelier. In March 1999 he joined the team at John-Burton Race’s L’Ortolan (2* Michelin) in Shinfield as Head Sommelier. In that time he came third in the Final of UK Sommelier of the Year in April 2000.
In April 2010 Roberto felt that it was the time to step up his game from quiet SW1 to vibrant W1 where he joined Alexis Gauthier and Gerard Virolle at the new Gauthier Soho Restaurant in London.
Roberto he’s a regular taster for various wine magazines such as Square Meal/Imbibe and a judge for Decanter Wine Awards; in 2003 he was a guest judge in Perpignan for the Saint Bacchus.
He occasionally writes for websites and magazines and he’s currently writing his first book on wine.
Justin Howard-Sneyd MWLanguedoc-Roussillon
Justin has worked in the wine business since 1991 when he worked as a helper on the International Wine Challenge. This was intended to be a holiday job, but the wine bug had taken hold, and ever since he has worked in a number of different capacities all around the wine business. The first five years were spent working in a shop, running wine education courses, and working 6 vintages in South Africa, Hungary, Romania and France, before settling down in England to become a buyer for Safeway. Justin passed the MW in 1999, winning the Tim Derrouet Award as the outstanding student from his year, and moved to Sainsbury's in 2000, where he spent 5 years as a buyer. In 2005 he moved to Waitrose, where he has been heading up the wine team until February 2010, when he moved to Direct Wines as Global Wine Director. Justin lives with his wife and 11 year old son in South-West London. In addition to the day job, Justin and his family make 3,000 bottles a year of 'Domaine of the Bee', a mighty blend of Grenache and Carignan grown on a few hectares of land in the Roussillon.
Simon Field MWLanguedoc-Roussillon
A reformed Chartered Accountant, Simon has worked in the Wine Trade since 1996, for Berry Bros and Rudd since 1998. He buys for Champagne, England, Spain, Portugal, all fortified wine, South America and of course, both the Rhône Valley and the Languedoc. To be able to taste such a comprehensive line-up at Decanter, a who's-who snap-shot of the region in question, is both a revealing and rewarding. (Also judged Rhône)
Matthew Stubbs MWLanguedoc-Roussillon
Matthew began his career in the UK Wine Trade in 1987 after graduating with a language and business degree. He worked in all aspects of the business from sales, marketing and brand management to buying, sourcing and retail development. 14 years was spent with Seagram, one of the world’s largest drinks companies, followed by 3 years as Director of Wine at the UK supermarket Safeway. In 2004 he moved to the South of France to set up own consultancy and training company. Finally in July 2008 he opened Vinécole, a wine school based at Domaine Gayda in the Languedoc. He qualified as a Master of Wine in 1996.
Jim BuddLoire (Panel Chair)
Jim Budd changed careers in 1988 when he went from education to wine. Since then he has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, including Decanter (since early 1989). In 1991 he began editing Circle Update, the newsletter of the Circle of Wine Writers. His book Appreciating Fine Wines was published in 1996 by Apple Press. He was general editor for Great Wine Tours of the World, published in October 2002 by New Holland, and contributes to Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Guide,
He continues to expose the dangers of drinks investment on his award-winning web site investdrinks.org, which now has a complementary blog (investdrinks-blog.blogspot.com/). His other blog is Jim’s Loire and is one of the five members of Les 5 du Vin blog.
Göran Klintberg (also judged South Africa, Spain and Czech Republic)
Chee Wee Lee (also judged Middle East, Far East & Asia, Bordeaux)
Sarah Ahmed, The Wine Detective, is a lawyer turned wine writer who started off her wine career with Oddbins in 2000 and took top honours in the WSET Diploma in 2003. In addition to writing for wine magazines she has contributed to The World Atlas of Wine, Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book (Portugal) and ,Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Book(Loire) and Wine Behind the Label (Portugal and Australia). In 2009, she scooped the Portuguese Annual Wine Awards Wine Writer of the Year. Hands on experience includes stints at Torres in Spain, Boekenhoutskloof in South Africa and Cullen in Australia. (Also judged Portugal)
Dr Chris KissackLoire
Dr Chris Kissack is the author of Winedoctor (www.thewinedoctor.com), which he has been publishing for more than ten years. Over that time Winedoctor has grown to become a huge and individual resource, and is visited by more than 15,000 readers every day. He has for many years focused on the Loire and Bordeaux as two areas of special interest, and is a frequent visitor to both regions. He has been travelling to the Loire regularly since 1993, visiting domaines and experiencing the vineyards first hand, or meeting the winemakers and reporting on their wines from the annual Salon des Vins de Loire. In Bordeaux he is a regular reporter from the annual primeur barrel tastings as well as reviewing the wines in bottle at two and four years of age, and into maturity.
Nigel has run London’s RSJ restaurant for 30 years. Its wine list focuses on the Loire, boasting more than 300 varieties of the region’s wine. Nigel began travelling there 25 years ago and is now a true connoisseur of its wine.
Middle East, Far East & Asia
Ch’ng Poh TiongMiddle East, Far East & Asia (Panel Chair)
CH’NG Poh Tiong is a lawyer by training. He writes, since 1998, the oldest, continuous wine column in Chinese in the world in Singapore’s largest circulation Chinese newspaper, the Lianhe Zaobao. Ch’ng has also been pairing wine with Chinese cuisine since he starting drinking wine nearly 40 years ago.
Ch’ng is publisher of The Wine Review, since 1991, the oldest wine publication in South-East Asia, Hong Kong and China. He also publishes, since 2000, the world’s first “Guide to Bordeaux in Chinese”.
Ch’ng is founder of ICCCW, the International Congress of Chinese Cuisine & Wine. The inaugural congress was held in Beijing in 2008; Singapore in 2009; and, is scheduled for Hong Kong in November 2010 (www.icccw.com).
Ch’ng is also publisher of www.chinesebordeauxguide.com, the world’s first bi-lingual Chinese/English website on Bordeaux wine. In November 2010, he will be launching www.vinovideos.com, the world’s first website devoted to wine videos with English/Chinese contents and subtitles. The site will itself also launch wine training videos in Chinese under “学酒”, and in English under “Wine School”.
Ch’ng is the author of “108 Great Chinese Dishes Paired”. The entire 238-page bi-lingual English/Chinese book can also be downloaded, free-of-charge, at www.108chinesepairings.com. (Also judged Southern & Eastern Mediterranean and Italy)
Chee Wee Lee (also judged Loire, Bordeaux)
Ignatius ChanMiddle East, Far East & Asia
In 1985, Ignatius was sponsored by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Singapore to train at SHATEC (Singapore Hotel Association Training and Educational Centre), in Food and Beverage service.
In 1987, Ignatius joined the Mandarin Oriental Hotel as a waiter after graduation. He was later promoted to Sommelier at the French dining room, Fourchettes.
In 1989, Ignatius earned a six-month training scholarship in Europe from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. He spent time under-studying at some of the finest restaurants in Europe, including the Crillon in Paris, the Ritz in Madrid, Relais and Chateau’s Royale Champagne in Reims. Ignatius toured the various wine regions in France, and worked in wineries such as Georges Duboeuf in Beaujolais, Chatron et Trebuchet in Burgundy, and Chateau Rauzan-Segla in Bordeaux.
In 1990, Ignatius won the Veuve Clicquot Champagne scholarship, as well as the prestigious Singapore Best Sommelier for French wines and spirits competition organised by SOPEXA. Following which, Ignatius represented Singapore in the international finals in Paris, and was ranked tenth out of a total of sixteen finalists.
In 1991, Ignatius joined Raffles Hotel as Cellar Master. He was responsible for the cellar and the hotel’s wine programmes. Through the hotel’s many wine programmes, Ignatius worked with many wineries which culminated in the now famous annual Raffles Wine and Food Experience.
In December 1993, Ignatius left Raffles Hotel to partner chef Justin Quek and two other financial investors to open Les Amis, which was opened in March 1994. Ignatius was also the Executive Director and Partner of Vinum Fine Wines Merchants.
In 1998, Ignatius was selected as the only Asian member of the prestigious Grand Jury Europeen, and travels to Europe several times a year to visit and taste with wine makers and other esteemed members of the trade.
In June 1999, Ignatius was inducted as a member of the oldest wine fraternity in the world – Jurade des St-Emilion. Ignatius is also one of the permanent judges in the annual Lianhe Zaobao Wine Challenge organized by The Wine Review.
In 2001, Ignatius and Justin Quek were voted "Joint Food & Beverage Men of the Year 2000" by Wine and Dine Magazine. During the ten years spent at Les Amis, Ignatius was pivotal in establishing Les Amis as a wine and food destination for many around the world.
In 2004, after a decade of being a proud member of the esteemed Les Amis group of restaurants, Ignatius decided to step out and explore a dream he has always harboured in his heart. He embarked on his new project Iggy’s in March 2004 and after six months of planning, Iggy’s was opened on 1 September 2004.
Ignatius is a permanent judge of the Wine Review/Lianhe Zaobao Wine Challenge, held annually in Singapore since its inception in 1998,
Ignatius has been judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards held annually in London since 2006.
Iggy’s is located at Level three at The Regent Singapore. It is an intimate dining room which serves modern European cuisine. The dining room consists of a dining counter which seats 10 persons and table seating capacity of 28 which can be configured into several private dining rooms. This counter dining concept lightens the formality of dining and imbues a fun and friendly atmosphere to the restaurant. The wine list focuses predominately on Pinot Noir.
Ignatius is 46 years old. He is married and in his free time, he enjoys spending time at home with his wife and their three cats. His other interests include travelling and discovering new wines and restaurants. (Also judged Spain)
Philip Tuck MWNew Zealand
Philip Tuck MW has been in the wine business for 24 years. He started in the industry straight out of university in 1986 when he joined Avery's in Bristol. From there he spent time working for wineries in various countries including South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, California, Chile and finally Tuscany in Italy. He returned to the UK in 1993 to help set up the new Hatch Mansfield where he is now the Wine Director. He passed the Master of Wine exams in 1999.
Peter McCombie MW (also judged Italy)
Sally Easton MWNew Zealand
Sally is one of few independent wine writers to have both the MW and a masters degree in journalism. Her business, www.winewisdom.com, encompasses a portfolio of activities focused on freelance writing for trade and consumer publications at home and abroad as well as publishing directly to her own website, wine industry consultancy, and trade and consumer education.
For the trade, she provides bespoke training, and teaches to Diploma level for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). For consumers and corporate clients, she delivers fun and quirky wine tasting events, seminars, talks and dinners.
Additionally, Sally is an experienced judge on the international circuit, and has judged competitions on almost every wine-producing continent.
Amy HopkinsonNew Zealand
Amy is a New Zealand winemaker, educator and is a Spanish and New Zealand wine specialist. She studied an undergraduate BA in Politics before taking a postgraduate winemaking degree at Lincoln University. She then worked at wineries in New Zealand, Australia, Italy and Spain. She has been based in Spain for the last 7 years where she is makes wine in Valdeorras and Castilla Leon. (Also judged Spain)
Margaret Harvey MWNew Zealand
I was born and educated in Auckland, New Zealand. My interest was always wine and when I came to the UK on a "two year" working holiday in 1975, I attended the various courses run by the WSET. I started Fine Wines of New Zealand in 1985 by importing 100 cases of wines from small family-run properties. I passed the Master of Wine exam in 1991. In 1998, I was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit. In 2006 I was awarded Honorary Life Member to New Zealand Winegrowers for services to the industry.
Tom ForrestNew Zealand
Tom born in Edinburgh more years ago than he looks, since when he has been cursed by having to support the Scottish football and rugby teams.
He first fell in love with wine, especially Pinot Noir, at the age of 18 when he was given a bottle of Nuits St-Georges by a hotel manager. Following a career in hotel management, he began teaching wine & spirits to Hospitality students’ in 1982 and has been employed since 1999 at Vinopolis, London’s unique wine tasting attraction as its resident wine expert.
He has judged at various International wine competitions since 1997 and is the author of The Complete Wine Course published by Carlton Books. He has appeared on This Morning and various local radio stations in London and the South East, BBC Radio 4’s the Today programme and the World Service.
In 2007 he won the UK leg of the European Champagne Ambassador’s award.
Joelle MartiNew Zealand
Born in the South of France, Joelle decided very early in her life that she will work in the food and wine industry. She studied “gastronomy and wine” for five years and went to work for a two Michelin stared restaurant near Lyon. Following her experience at La Poularde, working for one of the most talented sommeliers in the World, Eric Beaumard, she came to the UK in 1993.
Joelle discovered wine from the New World and applied for a visa to go down under. Her love for wine took her to Sydney where she worked as a sommelier for the well known Peter Doyle. In 1996 Joelle moved back to the UK and tried her luck in London. She became the head sommelier at Le Pont de la Tour working for Sir Terence Conran.
She stayed there until she was approached to join the opening team at The Great Eastern Hotel. Joelle then became one of the well known “wine faces” in the UK. During her eight years at the GEH as Wine Manager, she collected many awards for best wine list (Aurora in 2000), and best Champagne List (Trophé Celebris in 2005) and joined several wine competitions as a judge. (Chilean Wine Award, Veritas wine competition (South Africa), the Clare wine annual competition (Australia).
Three years ago, after becoming a mum, Joelle decided to review her career. She now shares her time between Champagne Henriot as a Brand Ambassador and some consultancy work, helping restaurateurs to build wine list and establishing relationships between her clients and wine suppliers.
Justin LiddleNew Zealand
Justin Liddle joined the wine trade in 1990, seduced by the heady mix of food, wine and travel, he has spent time working in all areas of the trade from the vineyards of the Rhein-Phalz to Bollinger agent Mentzendorff & Co where he was a Director, via Oddbins and Yapp Brothers. He is currently a partner in Hampshire based importer, Stokes Fine Wines; agents for a number of small family owned producers from around the world.
His passion and knowledge for wine is continually fueled by visits around the world, and although he considers his specialist areas to be the eclectic mix of New Zealand, Australia and the Douro, he remains fascinated with all things vinous and tastes as widely and regularly as possible.
Port & Madeira
Richard MaysonPort & Madeira (Regional Chair)
Richard Mayson is one of the most respected authorities on fortified wines and the wines of Iberia. He divides his time between the UK and Portugal, writing, lecturing and producing wine. He owns a vineyard, Quinta do Centro in the Alto Alentejo. Richard contributes articles to a range of magazines including Decanter and has five books on wine to his name, among them The Wines and Vineyards of Portugal (winner of the 2003 André Simon Award) and Port and the Douro, both published by Mitchell Beazley. He is an associate editor of Oz Clarke's Wine Atlas and writes the entries on Portugal for The Oxford Companion to Wine edited by Jancis Robinson. Richard lectures for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and Leith's School of Food and Wine in London. Richard is currently preparing a book on the wines of Madeira for Portuguese publisher, Chaves Ferreira. He speaks fluent Portuguese and in 1999 was made a Cavaleiro of the Confraria do Vinho do Porto in recognition of his services to the Port wine trade. 'I am proud to have been regional chairman for Portugal, Port and Madeira in the Decanter World Wine Awards since the competition started in ????. Having judged all over the world, I feel that Decanter sets the highest standards, respecting tradition and rewarding excellence.' (Also judged Portugal)
Peter CobbPort & Madeira
Peter Cobb has spent his entire business life in the wine trade - in London with Cockburns Port, in Bristol as export sales manager of Harveys, and, for twenty years, in Portugal where he was a director of Cockburns. Now retired, he still lives in Oporto and writes on port and sherry for various UK and American magazines. He is delighted that his son, Freddie, is following him into the trade, despite, or perhaps even because of, his father's stringent recommendations to the contrary! (Also judged Portugal)
Edward SpencePort & Madeira
Godfrey started his wine trade career in 1983, initially in the retail sector in London and Kent, and for sixteen years was a Senior Lecturer at The Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and since than has remained the fortified wine specialist.
He had written three books, the first of which, The Port Companion was described by Bruce Guimaraens, (then Director of Taylor's and Fonseca) as the "definitive book on Port". It was translated into nine languages and was short-listed for the Prix Lanson. It may be the biggest selling book on Port. He writes regularly for the UK wine trade press on Portugal and Port and has contributed to many books on wine. (Also judged Portugal)
James John MWPort & Madeira
James John joined the wine trade in 1963 and he served his apprenticeship with Harveys of Bristol (later part of Allied Lyons and then Allied Domecq). James concentrated his early tasting experience on fortified wines, particularly sherry, port and madeira, and became Harveys Fortified Wine Blender. Appointed Buyer for all sherry requirements from Jerez for blending and bottling in Bristol, James dealt with the majority of bodegas in Jerez, Puerto de Santa Maria and Sanlucar for many years. After the European wine regulations demanded country of origin bottling for regulated quality wines, James moved to Oporto to support the blending and tasting side of Cockburn’s ports.
In more recent years James became light wine buyer for Allied Lyons (Harveys again), director of Champagnes & Chateaux (Vignobles Alain Thienot SA), chairman of Vermilion Fine Wines and Principal of Bath Wine School Ltd. He has also been a regular wine panellist for Decanter Magazine and writer of copious wine lists and articles.
James is a Master of Wine, Williams & Humbert Scholar and Companons de Beaujolais. Now retired from the wine trade, James runs a canal-side B & B with his wife Judy in Bath.
Danny Cameron’s career began in the hospitality industry. Originally training at London’s Café Royal, he went on to lead an eight-sommelier team at the Old Course Hotel in St Andrews, and eventually became House Manager at Danesfield House in Buckinghamshire. Five years as an independent wine merchant followed, before becoming director of Portugal-specialists Raymond Reynolds Ltd; a position he has held for the last twelve years. Danny is also the founder and director of The Big Fortified Tasting (the bft), which created the largest and finest dedicated collection of fortified wine under a single roof anywhere. Additionally, he runs a successful wine and food consultancy company, dcpr, whose best known client (Lewis and Cooper) has won several national awards for its wine business. Danny Cameron is the current chairman of the Association of Portuguese Wine Importers, a group for which he was also the founding Chairman in 2004. Beyond the wine trade, Danny is an archery coach, specializing in the English Longbow, and is manager of the Great Britain Rock-it-Ball team.
Joel Butler MW (also judged Italy, Canada)
Peter Cobb (also judged Port & Madeira)
Dirceu Vianna Junior MW (also judged Chile)
Godfrey Spence (also judged Port & Madeira)
Specialist in Portuguese wines for the last 20 years. Nick Oakley left the Navy, having served as a junior officer,and began life in the wine trade as the cellar manager at Lay & Wheeler, based in Colchester; a fine wine merchant of national repute. On leaving he became a founding director of the Dedham Fine Wine Company Ltd, a general wholesaling and retailing company in Essex and Suffolk. In 1990 a visit to Portugal caused a step change in his future, a 'road to Damascus' moment which led to a twenty year passion in supporting, representing, championing, and selling Portuguese wines which still goes on to this day. Having recently stepped down as chairman of the Association of Portuguese Wine Importers (APWI) he continues to represent several wineries in Portugal, and also these days some in Spain too. The major milestone of the last few years was the creation and development of the Tagus Creek brand which stands as one of the most important Portuguese brands in the UK market, second only to Mateus rose. His company Oakley Wine Agencies continues to supply both the independent specialist and the multiple UK retailer with wines from both Portugal and Spain.
Luis Sottomayor is the Douro Winemaking Director for Sogrape Vinhos of Portugal.
Luis has worked in several wine growing regions before entering the Porto wine business in 1989.
Luis combines a solid technical knowledge and cellar management skills with the expertise of two decades’ experience in the Making, Ageing, Tasting and Blending of Porto wine.
Today, he is responsible for all the Douro operation of Sogrape (Porto and Douro wines), leading an outstanding team of winemakers, tasters and cellar workers, alongside supervising the company wineries in the Douro region as well as the traditional and impressive ageing cellars and warehouses of V.N. Gaia. Ultimately, he is the keeper and mover of a celebrated heritage of outstanding wines made contemporary.
Born and raised in Portugal, Luis studied in several countries discovering the old and new world of wine. He is Winemaker by the University of Charles Sturt (Australia), studied in the Université de Bourgogne (France) and holds a Post-Graduation in Oenology by Escola Superior de Biotecnologia do Porto (Portugal). Along his career, he also took several courses and did numerous trainings in different aspects of winemaking, from the viticulture to the wineries, from ageing to blending and bottling.
Luis Sottomayor is a Member of the «Eaux-de-vie» Committee of the Douro and Porto Wines Institute (IVDP) since 2000 and Member of the Consulting Committee for the Douro wines since 2005.
Born in 1963, Luis Sottomayor is married and father of three children. In his free time, Luis sports of election are horse-back riding and hunting, besides being a football (soccer) aficionado.
Luis is member of the prestigious «Confraria do Vinho do Porto» (the Porto Wine Brotherhood).
Sarah Ahmed (also judged Loire)
Gerard Basset MS MWRegional France (Panel Chair)
Gerard was born and raised in France. After having qualified as a chef he moved to England for good in the mid 1980s. He then embarked on a very successful career as a sommelier. His sommelier achievements range from winning, on several occasions, the Best Sommelier in the UK title, as well as having been crowned Best International Sommelier for French Wines in 1992 and Best Sommelier of Europe in 1996; He also finished three times second in the Best Sommelier of the World (1992, 2004 and equal second in 2007) and has this year, in April 2010, in Santiago in Chile, reached his long held dream of becoming the Best Sommelier in The World, 2010. In addition, Gerard is currently the only person in the world to be simultaneously a Master Sommelier, Master of Wine and Wine MBA.
Aside from his wine-sommelier talents, Gerard has demonstrated a genuine flair for business. In 1994 with business partner, Robin Hutson, who he originally worked with at Chewton Glen, he co-founded the Hotel du Vin which they sold in 2004 after having successfully opened six hotels to much acclaim. In 2007, with his wife Nina, Gerard opened Hotel TerraVina and in spite of the recession, the hotel is going forward and has been getting an incredible amount of national press coverage, a number of awards and positive PRBack to top
Nick Sommerfeld (also judged Languedoc-Roussillon)
Matthieu Longuère MSRegional France
Originally from Bordeaux, he studied catering at college for 6 years before coming to England in 1994. Since then he worked as a head sommelier at Lucknam Park near Bath, the Hotel du Vin in Bristol and La Trompette Restaurant in Chiswick. He won the UK Sommelier of the year competition Trophée Ruinart in 2000, passed the WSET Diploma in 2002 and became a Master Sommelier in 2005. He speaks French, Spanish, English and basic Swedish. (Also judged Bordeaux)
Xavier RoussetRegional France
French born Xavier Rousset studied to be a sommelier in Saumur. At the age of 20, he started as an Assistant Chef Sommelier at Gérard Basset's renowned Hotel du Vin in Bristol.
2002 was the year Xavier's career really took off. He was promoted to Head Sommelier at Hotel du Vin and won Ruinart UK sommelier of the year competition. He also passed the Master Sommelier exam, becoming the youngest MS in the world. Xavier was the first runner up in representing France at Trophée Ruinart Meilleur Sommelier d'Europe 2005.
In 2004, he became Head Sommelier at Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, where he met Head Chef Agnar Sverrisson, with whom he went on to set up his first venture. The two had a vision of creating a restaurant where food and wine are of equal importance, resulting in Texture Restaurant which launched in 2007 and recently added a Michelin star to it's list of awards which also include Drink Out Excellence Award 2009, Remy Martin London Restaurant Award winner - Newcomer of the Year 2008-2009, 3 rosette AA Guide 2008-2009 and The Independent New Restaurant of the Year 2007.
Xavier and Aggi's latest venture, 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen, is set to launch in early June 2010. It aims to deliver an exceptional variety of wines at excellent prices alongside simple, classic French food.
Philippe Messy (also judged Burgundy, Rhône)
Tim Wildman MWRegional Fance
In 1989, at the age of eighteen, Tim hitch-hiked around Australia, ending up in the Hunter Valley just after vintage. There he drank a bottle of Tyrrell's 1986 Hunter Valley VAT 47 Chardonnay out of plastic cups in the back of a camper van. It was an epiphany moment, and his love affair with both wine and Australia began from that day on. Tim passed the Master of Wine exam in 2008, writing his Dissertation on attitudes towards Australian wine in the UK market. In 2009 he launched Winetec Ltd, an education and consultancy company. In 2010 Tim established James Busby Travel, a travel company set up with the aim of taking the up-and-coming generation of wine trade professionals out to Australia's vineyards, thereby completing the circle that began over twenty years with a bottle of Hunter Valley Chardonnay.
Isabelle Legeron MW (also judged Slovenia, Hungary and Languedoc-Roussillon)
John Livingstone-LearmonthRhône (Panel Chair)
John Livingstone-Learmonth has the Rhône Valley running through his veins. He has dedicated most of his life to writing and talking about its wines, since he first visited its vineyards and estates in June, 1973.
He has published four books on the Rhône – three were in the Faber & Faber series under the title The Wines of the Rhône (1978, 1982, and 1992, 680 pages). His approach in the first book was called “new journalism” by John Arlott in the Guardian, as it involved letting growers talk about their outlook and a more precise appraisal of wines than had been the case before.
The fourth book, “The Wines of the Northern Rhône”, was published by the University of California Press in 2005. At over 700 pages, it tells the story of the vineyards, the people and their wines in personal detail, the fruit of over 30 years` labour. This book won the Louis Roederer International Book prize in 2006, and was commended in the André Simon Awards. It has been highlighted as favourite all-time wine book by growers in Australia, a major compliment.
John has also written on the wines of the Loire, Beaujolais and Bordeaux, with articles published in a broad range of British magazines, from Decanter, Wine, World of Fine Wine, Harpers and Wine & Spirit to Good Housekeeping, The Connoisseur and Sainsburys Monthly.
He contributes to annuals such as the Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine Book and Wine Atlas, and the Oz Clarke Wine Atlas and Pocket Book. He has given talks and tastings in Britain, the United States, France, Australia and Asia, and tasted on Panels including the Mâcon and San Francisco Wine Fairs. He is an Honorary Citizen of the Rhône village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and a close follower of the Turf, having been The Daily Telegraph Racing Hero of the Year 2000.
John Livingstone-Learmonth (panel chair)
Simon Field MW (also judged Languedoc-Roussillon)
Philippe Messy (also judged Burgundy, Regional France)
Tim Marson MW (also judged Burgundy)
Happy with last year’s biog, etc. Editorial must be in possession of this as there is no record on dotcom.
Clive Barlow MWRhône
After having spent 10 years in the wine trade Clive Barlow passed the Master of WIne Exam in 1999. He now runs an independent wine consultancy and training business, Press Wine Services, in Kent. His clients have included Waitrose, Sotheby's, Whitbread, London Wine Academy and Adnams as well as a number of private and business clients for whom he sources wines and advises on the cellaring. He has worked with TV Chef Tony Tobbin for a cable TV show called Meat and Drink on food and wine matching.
Alistair joined the trade in 1988 with Geoffrey Roberts working in a team of three to run the Winery and Les Amis du Vin shops. He then travelled extensively for 5 years ending up in South Africa, gaining valuable experience at Villiera Estate before running Vaughan Johnson's, a new fine wine shop in Cape Town. On returning to the UK he joined Harrods in 1995 (Tea and Coffee dept) and took over as manager of the Wine Dept in 1996. From there he progressed in the role of assistant buyer and took over the buyership in September 2000. Since then he has focused on education not only for the staff, but more importantly for the customer. With monthly tasting events and promotions ranging from the more standard regional or country focused themes through to a wide range of tasting events such as Syrah/Viognier from around the world the customers have been able to sample a huge array of products in a very informal and relaxed atmosphere. This in many ways has allowed him to take the focus away from the tried and tested regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne and create a demand from the customers for a wider range of often more accessible products. However, the overall goal has been to encourage the consumers to trade up to the next level and drink better and slightly more expensive wines that will ultimately deliver a greater pleasure.
Christian Honorez, founder and director of H2Vin, has over 25 years experience of bringing quality wines to top restaurants and hotels in the UK through his successful career with Genesis Wines, H & H Bancroft and H & H Fine Wines. H2Vin is a modern and innovative wine importer. It aims to provide the UK marketplace with a range of exciting wines, sourced from predominantly small producers, who pride themselves on being the best at their craft by carefully matching grape varieties to their respective regions.
Following a degree in Philosophy at Bristol, and studies in Art History at the Courtauld Institute and Contemporary Dance at the Laban Centre, Jonathan Kinns has been in the wine trade for 30 years, having developed an interest in wine whilst doing temporary jobs at Harveys of Bristol and a Mayfair restaurant. He showed an early empathy with the wines of the Rhone, winning the Rhone Prize in the WSET Diploma. After a long period with Michael Druitt Wines in buying and sales roles, for the last 14 years he has had his own agency and importing business, Winegrowers Direct, selling wines from all regions of France, with an emphasis on wines of the Rhone, and from Spain mainly into the specialist independents and the mail order / internet sector.
John Switzer has been in the wine industry since 2000. Wine is a second career for this former banker and management consultant and he is now a full-time wine writer, agent and educator. His agency, Winesights Inc, specializes in small-producer wines from the Southern Rhône and Italy. He is an instructor in the WSET program and is a frequent speaker at wine shows in the Toronto area.
Since 2005 John has distributed a limited-circulation, bi-weekly newsletter, the Winesights Vintages Newsletter and he also writes for a widely-read controlled circulation magazine in Toronto. John is a member of the Society of Wine Educators.
John is based in Toronto, Ontario
Says the biography from last year will do – editorial must have this as there is no biog on the web (Also judged Champagne)
Robert GorjakSlovenia (Panel Chair)
Robert lives near Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he has written about wine since 1994. Beside regular contributions to Slovenian periodicals he is a contributor to the Oxford Wine Companion and Wine Atlas. He is the author of the Wine guide - Slovenia 2010. He has judged several national and international wine competitions. He and his wife founded first Slovenian wine school Belvin where he also teaches and consults.
Caroline Gilby MW (also judged on Central & Eastern Europe)
Erich Krutzler has been one of the leading red winemakers in Austria at Weingut Krutzler during the 80s and 90s. He was a lecturer for the Austrian Wine academy ("European Master of Wine (MW) study course") and member of numerous international tasting juries. Since 2001 he been a winemaker in Slovenia, first for Dveri-Pax and now for very new winery, Marof.
Isabelle Legeron MW (also judged Regional France, Hungary and Languedoc-Roussillon)
John AverySouth Africa (Panel Chair)
John Avery is the fourth generation in his family business and is a Senior Master of Wine having passed in 1975. He has had extensive experience of wine judging having judged over 10 times in Australia (Canberra, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart) and also for 20 years in Hong Kong and five years in Japan. He judged the New Zealand natural show last November and has judged Veritas and Diners Club winemaker of the year in South Africa and has three times been on the panel to select wines for South African airlines. He is wine advisor to the Grocers Company and is a member of the Government Hospitality Wine Advisory Committee.
Göran Klintberg (also judged Loire, Spain and Czech Republic)
Dawn Davies (also judged Chile)
Cathy van Zyl MWSouth Africa
South Africa’s only resident Master of Wine, Cathy van Zyl is a regular judge for the Trophy Wine Show and Wine magazine, occasional panelist for several other local competitions (Diners Club Winemaker of the Year, Shiraz Challenge, Chenin Blanc Challenge, Peter Schultz Excellence Awards for Port) and, increasingly, overseas (including stints at Vinitaly's Consurso Enologico Internacional, Decanter's World Wine Awards and the Sydney International Wine Competition.) Co-founder of the web-based publication, Grape, and still a regular contributor through her blog, she co-authored the South African chapter of The Wine Report for four years until it ceased publication, and contributes on an ad hoc basis to international magazines and web sites. She is a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine's education committee, with specific responsibility for organising the annual seminar for 2nd year students (held in Bordeaux), mentors several South African students on the Master of Wine programme and lectures for the Cape Wine Academy on tasting. By far Cathy's biggest 'wine gig' is as associate editor of Platter's South African Wine Guide.
No changes to last year’s biog – again, editorial must have this.
Becca ReevesSouth Africa
Becca started in the wine trade in 2001 at Thierry’s where she worked as a National Account Manager. In early 2008, she joined Asda as Product Development Manager responsible for South Africa, South America, California, Spain & Portugal. She now works as a Wine Buyer at Direct Wines and manages the Southern French & Rhone, Chilean and Central & Eastern European wine ranges.
Graham NashSouth Africa
Graham has over 25 years of experience in the wine industry. His wine epiphany in 1985 came in the form of a bottle of Volnay les Caillerets 1979 from Domaine de la Pousse D’Or accompanied by some Chinese food. Despite not being the greatest food match in the world, its quality blew him away and confirmed his pursuit of a career in wine. Having worked for Lay and Wheeler he completed a vintage at Chateau Palmer in 1990 and returned to the UK to settle into a role at Thresher, moving into their buying team in 1996. Graham joined Tesco in 2001 and is Product Development Manager currently responsible for New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Burgundy, Alsace, Rhone, Provence, Champagne and Portugal. He has remained passionate about Burgundy since that early moment in his career and continues to dedicate his efforts to bringing the best range possible to Tesco customers.
Ken Mackay MWSouth Africa
Ken has worked in the wine trade since graduating from Oxford in 1999. He became a Master of Wine in 2006 at the age of 28, winning several scholarships in the process, and remains the youngest MW in the world. Ken joined the Waitrose buying team in 2008 and is responsible for sourcing wines from Bordeaux, the Loire, Alsace, Germany, Austria, South Africa, the USA, England & Wales.
Toni Aspler (also panel chair Canada )
Virginia Philip MS (also judged Spain and USA)
Fiona MacdonaldSouth Africa
Trained as a news journalist, Fiona McDonald worked as a specialist medical reporter, wine columnist, night news editor, sub editor and newspaper designer before being headhunted to take over WINE magazine. As the Editor of South Africa's premier monthly wine magazine she juggled deadlines, chased writers, cracked the whip over designers, made budgets stretch, tap danced through management meetings while simultaneously dreaming up story ideas and chronicling the changing face of South African wine.
Eight years at the helm provided her with broad knowledge and unique insight into the industry's post-apartheid progress since her tenure coincided with a period of profound change and growth within the local wine industry. Now a freelance writer Fiona contributes to a number of South African publications and websites on the topics of food and wine. In addition to serving as a taster at a range of international wine competitions, she is also a member of the Platter Guide tasting panel and writing team.
Allan CheesemanSouth Africa
Allan has been in the UK wine trade for 38 years with most of that at Sainsbury’s, where he became Trading Director. Responsible for own-label development in the 1970s and 80s Allan is attributed with demystifying and popularising wine in the UK. Now semi-retired Allan is a non-executive and consultant for several global wine businesses. He is also on the Boards of the WSTA (Wine and Spirits Trade Association), WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) and LWTF (London Wine Trade Fair). He is an Officier dans l’Ordre du Merite Agricole and has lifetime achievement awards from Off Licence News and the IWSC. (Also judged Central & Eastern Europe)
Joanna Locke MWSouth Africa
It was her French studies, in the UK and in France, that eventually brought Jo into the Wine Industry in 1984. She has remained UK based since that time, in a variety of roles, including buying, marketing, and PR. After starting in Harrods wine department in London, Jo spent four years at London wholesaler Michael Morgan Ltd. From there, she joined Grants of St James's in Guildford as an assistant buyer, before moving to Cellarworld and The Fulham Road Wine Centre, working with Angela Muir MW and James Rogers. She passed the Master of Wine exam in 1990, and later served as Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine from September 2006 to 2008. In 1991 Jo became a wine buyer at Thresher, later moving on to marketing and PR roles within the Thresher/First Quench group, before joining John E Fells & Sons in 2000. Since 2004, Jo has been a wine buyer at The Wine Society. Her current buying responsibilities include Austria, Bordeaux, the Loire, Portugal, and South Africa.
Linda Jotham MWSouth Africa
A wine educator and cellar consultant to consumers and the trade, Linda became a Master of Wine in 2001, winning the prestigious Bollinger Tasting Medal and the Tim Derouet Memorial Award for the most outstanding performance in the exams. Her trade experience includes Marketing at Mentzendorff. She is based in south-west London.
A qualified English lawyer, Linda is also a part-time lecturer in Business Law and Practice and related subjects at London's City University and is a graduate of Cambridge University.
David Gill MWSouth Africa
David joined the wine trade in 1982 when he managed a North West Vintners’ Liquorsave store in Aberystwyth, having graduated from UCW Aberystwyth with a degree in Physics with Planetary & Space Physics a year earlier. He progressed to overseeing several of their stores in mid-Wales before opening and running their new store in Wellington, Salop, as a way of chasing his girlfriend across the country.
He moved to Buckingham Wines in 1983 where he ran their new specialist wine store in Kensington, catching up with his girlfriend and marrying her. At Buckingham’s he started on the W&SET courses and then took the MW, passing in 1988, by which time he was running all 5 stores and doing much of the buying. When the company was sold to Nicolas in 1988, he went to them as their UK MD for a year, before joining Bulgarian Vintners Co as sales & Marketing Manager the day after Bulgarian dictator Zhivkov was deposed.
At BVC he soon became S&M Director and, during his time there, sales rose from just over 1m cases to just under 3m, before the company began to unravel. He left in 1993 to join Waitrose as a Buyer, where he worked for 3 years before leaving to join Jerry Lockspeiser at Bottle Green at the end of 1996, where he – like Jerry – ran around sourcing, selecting, designing, marketing and selling wine from all over the world – and initially doing much of the QA in his spare time. His most satisfying achievement was the invention and early development of the French Connection wine brand.
He is still there, nearly 14 years later, now principally selling to the Specialist, Independent and On-Trade sectors although he still has involvement in sourcing, selection and trade marketing.
Nancy Gilchrist MWSouth Africa
Nancy developed an interest in wine at the age of 11. Excellent tasting opportunities whilst at Cambridge University fuelled the passion. For several years after graduation however, wine ran in tandem with other careers, including a small business in a double-decker bus, and publishing. She lived for over three years in the United States where she ran a wine bar close to the White House, later becoming wine columnist for The Boston Globe. On her return to England she ran Grants of St James's School of Wine before leaving to work as a freelance wine educator and consultant. She passed the Master of Wine exams in 1995 and now lectures widely throughout the UK, including at Christie's and at Leith's School of Food & Wine.
Southern & Eastern Meditteranean
CH’NG Poh Tiong (panel chair[?] – also judged Middle East, Far East & Asia, and Italy)
John RadfordSpain (Panel Chair)
John Radford is a freelance writer, broadcaster, lecturer and speaker with a special enthusiasm for wine, food and travel. His life-long love of Spain has made him an unrivalled specialist in the field of Spanish wines. He has been a consultant to the Spanish Commercial Office and, on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Commerce, created the standard textbook for the wine trade and students from 1989 to 2001. His book 'The New Spain' (Mitchell Beazley, 1998) won four international awards and went into reprint after just four months. A new edition appeared in the spring of 2004. His other titles include the Mitchell Beazley 'Pocket Guide to Fortified and Sweet Wines', which he co-wrote in 2000, 'The Wines of Rioja' (Mitchell Beazley, 2004), 'Cook España, Drink España! (Mitchell Beazley 2007, with chef Mario Sandoval) and he has contributed chapters on Spanish and Portuguese wines to many encyclopædias and anthologies. He also writes regularly for Decanter and is the editor of restaurant-trade magazine 'Yes Chef!'. He is a regular speaker at wine seminars and presentations, and occasionally lectures for the professional examinations of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust at Plumpton College (University of Brighton). Professional memberships include the Circle of Wine Writers UK and the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino in Spain. 'Anything which gives the consumer more opportunities to try and enjoy the wines of Spain is something which can count on my wholehearted support.'
Helen developed a love of wine whilst travelling around South America, visiting wineries in Chile and Argentina. Upon her return, she joined the Wine Buying team at Sainsbury’s and further developed her passion for the wine. Her career has seen her progress from buying wine for Sainsbury’s and later Threshers, then in 2008 Helen became a Senior Wine Buyer for Direct Wines. Helen has always harboured a love for Spanish wines and has been a judge at the Decanter World Wine awards on the Spanish panel for the last 5 years. In her current role, Helen has sourced a number of new and innovative wines for the range and has been instrumental in the increased popularity of Spanish wines amongst the Direct Wines customers; sales of Spanish wine now account for 18% of all wine sold at Direct Wines. Aside from Spain, Helen also has buying responsibility for Eastern France and South Africa. Helen was the driving force behind Direct Wines becoming registered to import Fair Trade wines and has ambitious plans to grow the Fair Trade range over the coming months. (Also judged Bordeaux)
Juan Carlos RinconSpain
Edward joined the wine trade in 1983, working at Howells off-licence in Bristol. He then worked at Wines from Spain (1985-86) before joining Co-op as a buyer in 1987, ending up as bulk wines and spirits buyer. He became MW in 1991 and joined Western Wines in 1994. He left Western Wines in February 2006 to work with Bruce Jack of Flagstone, South Africa. Although Flagstone has been taken over by Constellation, he continues to work with Bruce on their Spanish wine project, La Báscula.
Göran Klintberg (also judged Loire, South Africa and Czech Republic)
Julie Buckley (also judged Italy and Chile)
Simon Thorpe MW (also judged Australia)
Cristina Alcalá is a qualified sommelier; a wine consultant for wine cellars and a well regarded wine taster in Spain. She is sociologist with a master’s degree in winemaking and viticulture and in human resources. She has also developed a solid career in the diffusion of the wine culture among the mainstream public. As a journalist specialising in wine, she is a regular columnist in El País and the wine portal’s editor in prisa.com and writer for other Spanish specialized magazines. She has also worked as a wine expert on Radio Nacional de España and has published two books on wine. Since this year, Alcalá has been named Technical Director of Iberwine, a wine fair that takes place in Spain and Miami. She is a regular judge in several wine tasting awards such as: “Gourmets Wine Guide”, “Baco Awards”, “Tempranillos of the World”, “Bacchus Awards”, “Festa do Albariño”, “Jumilla Wines”, etc. as well as a lecturer in “Fenavin”, “Gastronomic Forum”, University Menéndez Pelayo”, “University Santiago of Compostela”, etc.
Margaret Rand (also judged Italy)
Amy Hopkinson (also judged New Zealand)
After an introduction into the wine trade in 1995 with the Antique Wine
Company, Pierre Mansour spent 4 years with Berry Bros & Rudd as Duty Manager of their Heathrow store. He completed the WSET Diploma in 1998 before moving to Vinopolis as Tastings' Manager. In 2000, he joined The Wine Society, overseeing tastings and events. He took on the role of Buyer at
The Wine Society in 2004 and currently buys the Society's Australian, New
Zealand, Spanish, North American and Lebanese wines. He is also studying for the Master of Wine. (Also judged USA and Australia)
Virginia Philip MSSpain
The Breakers Palm Beach is both proud and fortunate to have one of the world’s best as its Master Sommelier. Virginia Philip became the tenth woman in the world (there are now 18), and one of just 168 in total, to earn the extraordinary accreditation of Master Sommelier. That achievement was complemented when she competed against 30 men and one woman to earn the national title of “Best Sommelier of the United States” in 2002, a title she holds by the American Sommelier Association.
Now in her ninth year at The Breakers, Virginia maintains and oversees the beverage department for 9 restaurants and bars and 14 wine lists for the property. Included is the 1,600-selection list at L’Escalier, the resort’s award-winning signature restaurant which has won the Wine Spectator’s Grand Award every year since its inception in 1981.
Virginia’s keen interest in wine began at an early age, leading her to take a wine course in college and work a summer at a New York State vineyard. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1989 with a B.S. in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Prior to her arrival at The Breakers Palm Beach, Virginia worked at many accredited resorts and restaurants throughout the country, most notably the Five Diamond/Five Star Award-winning resort, The Little Nell, in Aspen, Colorado and was the wine buyer for 36 stores in San Antonio, Texas.
Ms. Philip has traveled extensively, broadening her knowledge of wines and spirits in Scotland, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Greece and Canada and throughout the wine regions of the United States. Virginia has sat on the Board for the Court of Master Sommeliers. (Also judged South Africa and USA)
Mike Ritchie MWSpain
Born in London, but living in Paris during his formative teenage years, geography graduate Mike has worked in the UK wine business for over 30 years. He passed his MW exam in 2002, and was awarded the commercial and business-related Errazurriz prize. Initially he worked at Saccone & Speed as a graduate trainee, and has gained a wide range of experience throughout the trade. He was instrumental in the early growth and success of London City Bond where he worked for 7 years. Since 2006 he has worked with Spanish specialist Moreno Wines and is selling their wines around SE England, while helping to develop Moreno's increasing non-Spanish wine range. One regret is his poor Spanish language skills, but this is slowly improving. His desert island wine might well be the thrilling Albarino from Palacio de Fefinanes, and the current 2009 vintage would do just fine! Married with 2 teenage daughters, he enjoys tennis, bridge, cooking and playing the fool around the wiser women at his home in NW London.
Julian Brind (also judged UK)
Ferran Centelles is a sommelier of elBulli since 1999. He was awarded “Best Sommelier of Spain 2006” by Runirat. He contributes to a variety of specialist wine magazines in Spain as well as lecturing on wine at the official sommelier school.
Barbara Philip MW (see Canada)
Christine Parkinson started her career in the kitchen, and moved into management after 3 years as Head Chef. Responsibility for 39 restaurants eventually convinced her to follow her passion and concentrate on wine. In 2001 Christine created the first wine list for Hakkasan, and later became Wine Buyer for the group, which includes the Michelin-starred restaurants Hakkasan and Yauatcha, with operations in London, Miami and Abu Dhabi. She has also consulted for restaurants including Busaba, Sake No Hana, Cha Cha Moon and Princi. Christine has been called “one of the most creative wine buyers in the UK” by wine guru Jancis Robinson, and in 2009 received the ‘Taste On-Trade Influencer Award, in association with Imbibe’. She is currently studying to become a Master of Wine. (Also judged New Zealand)
Ben joined the wine trade in 2002 to work on the sales and marketing of Domaine Saint Hilaire, his families' newly acquired Languedoc vineyard. He set up Indigo Wine the following year focusing initially on importing wines from Southern France. Since then he has broadened the range to include one of the UK's best Spanish portfolios. Ben is also a regular taster at the Decanter panel tastings.
Ignatius Chan (also judged Middle East, Far East & Asia)
Edward Adams MWSpain
Ed joined the wine trade in 1983, working at old Bristol wine firm Howells’ shop in Bristol city centre. He then worked at Wines from Spain (1985-86) before joining the Co-op as a buyer in 1987, ending up as bulk wines and spirits buyer at what later became Kingsland wines & spirits.. He became an MW in 1991 and joined Western Wines in 1994 as Purchasing and QC director. After the Vincor/ Constellation buyout he left Western Wines in February 2006 to work with Bruce Jack of Flagstone and Constellation, South Africa. He continues to work with Bruce on their Spanish wine project, La Báscula, which now comprises 6 wines from various denominations throughout Spain and is being sold in 11 countries. He is convinced the best is yet to come!
Stephen Skelton MWUK (Panel Chair)
Stephen started his career in wine in 1975. After 12 months at Schloss Schönborn in Germany's Rheingau winegrowing region and two terms at Geisenheim Wine School, he returned to the UK in 1977 to establish Tenterden Vineyards in Kent where he made wine for 23 vintages. He was winemaker at Lamberhurst Vineyards from 1988-91. Stephen is a consultant to the English wine industry and is involved with planting vineyards for the production of sparkling wine. He became a Master of Wine in 2003. (Also judged Greece)
Julian has more than 40 years experience in the wine trade. In1967 he won the Vintners' Scholarship. He passed the Master of Wine examination in 1970 and joined Waitrose the following year. Julian was Chairman of the MW Examining Panel for many years and became Chairman of the Institute in 1993.
In 2002 he was elected President of the Wine and Spirit Association and in 2006 became Chairman of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust having been a Trustee before that. (Aslo judged Spain)
John is employed by Billecart-Salmon. He passed the Master of Wine examination in 1999, with the Villa Maria prize for viticulture, and Mme Bollinger tasting medal. Vineyard owner in the UK. Lectured around the world on cool climate viticulture.
Stephen BrookUSA (Panel Chair)
After many years as a publisher's editor, in both the US and Britain, Stephen Brook became a freelance writer in 1982, specialising in travel and wine. His Liquid Gold: Dessert Wines of the World won the André Simon Award in 1987 while Sauternes and the Other Sweet Wines of Bordeaux (Faber, 1995) is now the standard work on the subject. His other wine books include Pauillac, and the Mitchell Beazley Pocket Guide to Sweet Wines (with John Radford). Other awards include the Wines of France award in 1995, the Bunch Award for wine writer of the year in 1996, and the Glenfiddich, Lanson, and Veuve Clicquot awards for his book The Wines of California (1999). His Complete Bordeaux is now the definitive study of the region, and the forthcoming The Finest Wines of California, will be his third book on Californian wines. He has fully revised the last two editions of the Hugh Johnson Wine Companion. He writes for magazines in many countries, and has been a Contributing Editor to Decanter since 1996.
Virginia Philip MS (also judged South Africa and Spain)
Jean-Michael Valette MWUSA
Based in the US, Jean-Michel Valette is active both within and outside the wine world. He is currently Chairman of Vinfolio a leading US based internet retailer and seller of fine wine. He has also been Chairman and Managing Director of Robert Mondavi Winery as well as CEO of Franciscan Estates. Outside of wine he is a director of the Boston Beer Company, the maker of Sam Adams beer and the Chairman of Peet's Coffee & Tea, Inc.
His interest in vines and wine started at an early age during his summers with his grandparents in Vouvray. He was one of North America's early Masters of Wine and has since been active in education, examination and governance of the IMW, where he is currently Deputy Vice Chair.
When not on a phone, in an office or in his head, he may be found on a mountain, in a kitchen or somewhere near a glass of wine enjoying the simple moments in life.
Isa has been the head Sommelier at The Fat Duck in Bray for last five years.
He is a Master Sommelier and has won the title of ASI Best Sommelier of Europe 2008 seeing of competition from 31 other European candidates.
When not immersed in wine he likes to paint and shoot whenever possible.
Alex joined the wine trade as a van driver for Oddbins while studying Philosophy and Psychology at Oxford, where he captained the Varsity Blind Tasting team. He joined Mayfair Cellars in 2000, holding both sales and buying roles. In 2006 he moved to Berkmann Wine Cellars, where he is currently Purchasing Director. Alex passed the theory and tasting components of the Master of Wine exams at the first attempt in 2004, and remains at the dissertation stage.
Angela Mount has been a Wine Industry consultant for the last three years, working with producers and agents alike, to develop styles of wine and appropriate market strategy. She is a frequent public and conference speaker. Prior to this, Angela was Head of wine buying at Somerfield supermarkets. [mention insured palate? – OS] She has recently been appointed Head of a new online wine retail venture, www.gondola.co.uk, owned by Dragon’s Den Peter Jones.
Pierre Mansour (also judged Spain and Australia)