Find out more about the world-renowned names that make up the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards judging line-up in this Q&A series.
Matt Walls is a freelance wine writer, regularly contributing to publications such as Decanter, timatkin.com, Harpers Wine & Spirit and Imbibe. His first book, Drink Me! How to choose, taste and enjoy wine, was published in 2012, and when he’s not writing, Walls creates wine lists for restaurants, hosts tastings, and judges at wine competitions.
Read our interview with Matt Walls below…
☆ Which year or decade do you wish you’d been born in and why?
I can think of no better era to be a wine lover than now.
☆ How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’ and what was it?
I was 15, on holiday with my friend Jon and his family in the Loire. We visited a winery nearby and the winemaker showed us around his vineyard and we tasted his wines. My French was pretty basic but he was so passionate it didn’t matter – I could tell that this was something I had to explore.
☆ How many bottles do you have in your cellar and what is your most recent addition?
Not many, about 250. Latest addition: a case of 2012 Yann Chave Crozes Hermitage Le Rouvre. Read my next piece in Decanter to see why!
☆ How many years have you been working in the wine industry and what was your first job?
14 years. I started as a relief manager for high street off-licence chain Unwins in Brighton, and have done all kinds of wine-related things since then.
☆ Which vintage and region (or wine) do you wish you’d bought a whole case of wine from?
I wish I had more 2006 Rhônes; seriously underrated on release.
☆ In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?
Syrah in red; Chardonnay in white.
☆ In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered and why?
Has to be the Elqui Valley in Chile – they’re growing vines amongst the cacti at 5,000 feet where it hardly ever rains. Insane terroir but the Syrah here can be very good indeed.
☆ Who’s your wine idol (who has inspired you the most in the wine world)?
That winemaker I visited in the Loire when I was 15.
☆ What’s your most memorable wine and food moment?
Grauburgunder and snail porridge at the Fat Duck.
☆ If you could taste/drink any wine in the world what would it be and who would you drink it with?
A compete vertical of Château Rayas with Hunter S Thompson.
☆ What do you enjoy most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
There’s something about tasting a collection of wines, some exceptional, but not knowing who made them. When you leave you’re filled with a desire to pop every cork you get your hands on. It tops up your thirst.
For more information on this year’s competition, including how to enter, visit the Decanter World Wine Awards website
Written by Decanter
Matt Walls is an award-winning freelance wine writer, author, blogger and consultant, contributing regular articles to Decanter.
Regional body InterRhone, which is the professional body that promotes AOC Rhone wines, recently held its annual seminar and tasting