Find out about our Decanter World Wine Awards 2014 Bordeaux judging panel with biographies of the Regional Chair Stephen Brook plus Alison Buchanan, Angela Mount, Aristide Spies MS, Claire Thevenot MS, David Allen MW, David Round MW, Gareth Birchley, Hugo Rose MW, Igor Ryjenkov MW, Jane Anson, Jean Reilly MW, Jean-Michel Valette MW, Keith Isaac MW, Martin Campion, Matthew Hemming MW, Rebecca Palmer, Richard Bampfield MW, Tanguy Martin, Tim Sykes, Tony Aspler, Totte Steneby and Virginia Philip MS.
Regional chair: Stephen Brook
Brook has been a contributing editor to Decanter since 1996 and has won a clutch of awards for his writing on wine. The author of more than 30 books, his works include Complete Bordeaux, now the definitive study of the region and in its second edition, Bordeaux: Médoc & Graves, and Bordeaux: People, Power and Politics. Brook also fully revised the past two editions of Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companion and writes for magazines in many countries.
Alison Buchanan 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 for one of the multiples, before she joined Scotland’s oldest wine merchants, Whighams of Ayr, in 1989. When Corney & Barrow bought Whighams in 1994, Buchanan continued in Scotland before moving to London as associate director of buying in 1998. Buchanan completed an MBA in 2005 and today she looks after the top relationships in the Corney & Barrow portfolio, heading up their Fine Wine buying department.
Angela Mount is a wine writer presenter, and industry consultant; she writes for a number of consumer publications, and online wine website Wines Direct.co.uk; she works with producers to develop styles of wine and appropriate market strategy for the UK market, and also consults on restaurant wine lists in the South West; She is head of the judging panel for the Bath and Bristol Good Food Awards competition. Previously, Mount was head of wine buying at Somerfield supermarkets, where her taste buds were famously insured for £10m.
Aristide Spies MS
Aristide Spies MS discovered his passion for the wine trade during a family holiday in the Périgord and immediately enrolled in a series of wine tasting and cookery courses on returning home to Belgium. Following secondary studies, he spent year as an exchange student in Australia, before beginning his wine career at the one Michelin star restaurant Les Forges du Pont d’Oye, as assistant to Pascal Carré, named Best Sommelier of Belgium 1992, 1996 and 1997. In 2007, Spies won this same title for himself, also winning the Club Gastronomique Prosper Montagné’s Premier Sommelier de Belgique. Spies then went on to represent Belgium at the Best Sommelier of Europe competition in Sofia in 2008 where he reached the semi-finals, and at the World’s Best Sommelier 2013 competition in Tokyo, where he was a finalist. Spies has written and broadcast about wine, and is a member of both the International Federation of Wine and Spirits Journalists and Writers (FIJEV) and the Jurade de Saint-Emilion. He currently runs La Cave des Sommeliers, a chain of wine shops in Belgium and Luxembourg, with his former mentor Pascal Carré.
Claire Thevenot MS
Claire Thevenot MS is a French-born adopted Londoner. She studied catering and hospitality management and then took a sommelier degree from Tain l’Hermitage (France). After graduating Thevenot worked at a number of three star Michelin restaurants in France, Germany and Switzerland, including Bernard Loiseau and Restaurant Im Schiffchen Jean Claude Bourgueil. In 2002, Thevenot moved to London with work for the Hotel du Vin Group, quickly being promoted to Head Sommelier at the Hotel du Vin Winchester. In 2006 Thevenot become a Master Sommelier, the same year she was named UK Sommelier of the Year. Thevenot currently works for Enotria where she looks after prestige accounts and assists the buying team find new French growers. Her passion is for German Riesling, particularly, although she is also true to her French roots and the wines of Burgundy and the Rhône.
David Allen MW
David Allen MW discovered a love of wine when he worked for Oddbins before University. After graduating in 1990, he spent ten years running wine shops in South London for the company. At this stage he began studying for the MW, a journey which took him around the world several times. Following this, he moved to Oddbins’ head office to work in marketing and logistics roles, In 2004, Allen left Oddbins to join Uvine and, from 2006 to 2008, he worked for wine distributors Top Selection. Allen was appointed to his current role of Fine Wine Manager at Coe Vintners in 2010 and, although his areas of interest are varied, he particularly loves Bordeaux, Champagne and Riesling, along with the wines of Australia, Greece and New Zealand.
David Round MW
David Round MW joined the wine trade in 1991, working on the shop floor in Fortnum & Mason’s Wine Department. In 1994 he moved to Berry Bros & Rudd to help set up their Duty Free Wine Shop at Heathrow’s Terminal 3, and soon transferred to the Buying Department. Round passed his MW in 1999 and became fine wine manager at Direct Wines the following year. In 2003 Round moved to Bancroft Wines (formerly H&H Bancroft) where he was joint buying and marketing director. In 2009 Round joined Jascots Wine Merchants as director of purchasing, PR and marketing, leaving in late 2013 to help run a family business and set up his own wine consultancy.
Gareth Birchley ran the wine society at the University of Bath before graduating in 2006 and joining fine wine merchant Bordeaux Index. Initially starting in private client sales, he moved into buying and also structures the company’s wine events program. Birchley was named as one of the “stars of the future” by Jancis Robinson MW.
Hugo Rose MW
Hugo Rose MW joined the wine industry in 1982 after a brief career as a ‘garagiste’ (motorcycle mechanic), and is currently director of Vinsignia. After almost 20 years with UK fine wine merchants Lay & Wheeler, and then working as head of trading at boutique wine portfolio manager Culver Street, Rose set up his own consultancy offering a variety of commercial services to the wine industry, including project development, cellar maturity evaluation and tastings of historic vintages. Rose is a former chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine and is currently chairman of the Wine Investment Association.
Igor Ryjenkov MW
Igor Ryjenkov MW is the buyer for VINTAGES, the premium division of the LCBO, looking after France, Italy and sparkling wine. Ryjenkov moved to Canada from Russia shortly after graduating with a degree in International Journalism. His interest in wine was sparked by a tasting at a Niagara Peninsula winery, and within the span of seven+ years, Ryjenkov went from a complete wine novice to becoming the first Master of Wine in Canada in 2003, receiving Henkell-Sohnlein Award for the best dissertation. He is the only Russian national to gain this accreditation to date. After seven years in retail in Ontario’s two largest LCBO locations, he progressed to the buying position in 2006. As an MW, Ryjenkov is active in the IMW’s and other wine educational programs; he created the prototype of the introductory IMW Masterclass, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the IMW North American branch. Ryjenkov has also contributed to or edited a number of wine books and manuals, and judges, mentors, lectures and consults.
Jane Anson is Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent and has lived in the region since 2003. She writes a monthly wine column for Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, a weekly column for DecanterChina.com, and is the author of Bordeaux Legends: The 1855 First Growth Wines (also published in French as Elixirs). In addition, she has contributed to the Michelin guide to the Wine Regions of France and was the Bordeaux and Southwest France author of The Wine Opus and 1000 Great Wines That Won’t Cost a Fortune. An accredited wine teacher at the Bordeaux École du Vin, Anson holds a masters in publishing from University College London, and a tasting diploma from the Bordeaux faculty of oenology.
Jean Reilly MW
Jean K Reilly MW has over a dozen years experience in the wine industry. She has traveled to more than 60 wine regions across four continents. Reillycurrently works as a public speaker and a purchasing and private label consultant to retailers. In the past, she has run the purchasing operations of JJ Buckley Fine Wines, Morrel & Company and the Morrell Wine Bar & Café. In 2010, Reilly became the fifth American woman to earn the Master of Wine title. Her dissertation on US Sommelier Opinions of German Riesling won the Quinta do Noval Award for Outstanding Dissertation. Reilly appears frequently on television and radio speaking about wine and writes for a variety of publications, including Beverage Media, Fortune and American Airlines’ Latitudes magazine. Reilly is also a professional skydiver, having made over 800 jumps. She recently completed a qualification which will allow her to fulfill her dream of parachuting into famous vineyards and iconic wine events around the world.
Jean-Michel Valette MW
Jean-Michel Valette MW is chairman of Vinfolio, a US-based internet marketplace for fine wine. He has also been chairman and MD of Robert Mondavi Winery, as well as CEO of Franciscan Estates. Outside of wine he is a director of the Boston Beer Company, maker of Sam Adams beer, and a director of Peet’s Coffee & Tea. His interest in vines and wine started at an early age during summers spent with his grandparents in Vouvray, and since becoming one of North America’s early Masters of Wine, he has been active in education, examination and governance of the IMW, where he is currently chairman.
Keith Isaac MW
Keith Isaac MW is a veteran of Castelnau Wine Agencies, having been with the company since 1987, and appointed as general manager in 1996. Isaac read history at Cambridge but was introduced to the world of wine via the university’s wine club, where he was a member of the blind tasting team. He passed the MW in 1989 and served as chair of examination panel for several years until 2007.
Martin Campion has been in the wine trade since the late 1980s and has spent much of that time working for the Laithwaite family. In his current role of senior product manager for Laithwaite’s Wine, Campion primarily manages packaging design, branding and quality control, which affords him the opportunity to work with colleagues and suppliers across the globe. Campion’s tastes are broad, although he particularly enjoys Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Sherry and, his greatest passion, German Riesling.
Matthew Hemming MW
Matthew Hemming MW is the fine wine manager at Averys Wine Merchants, where he has worked since 2002, covering all bases from van driver to Burgundy buyer. Travelling and tasting extensively in Australia over the years, Hemming won the only UK place on the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial in 2005, and in 2008 he entered the Master of Wine programme, passing his MW in 2013.
Rebecca Palmer is associate director and buyer for the Corney & Barrow Group based in London, Hong Kong and Singapore. 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 working for Corney & Barrow, Palmer was a buyer at Direct Wines (Laithwaites), specialising in France and South America. A modern languages graduate, she has worked in the wine trade for 17 years.
Richard Bampfield MW
Richard Bampfield MW graduated in French from Cambridge in 1981 and immediately decided the wine trade was where he could the language to best use. He managed retail wine shops in the North West of England for JW Lees Brewers for seven 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, specialising in public relations, and offering wine talks, tours and courses. Principal clients includeYvon Mau (Bordeaux), Albert Bichot (Burgundy), Dom Perignon Champagne, Lidl, Leith’s School of Food and Wine, Santa Rita (Chile), Château Sociando-Mallet, and the English Wine Group. Bampfield is a past chairman of the Association of Wine Educators and was the European Champagne Ambassador 2009.
Tanguy Martin grew up in Lyon, in close proximity to the vineyards of Beaujolais and the Rhône Valley. He attended the Lycée Viticole de Beaune, working in the surrounding vineyards during time off from school, and completing his first vintage in Beaumes de Venise. After three years in Burgundy, Martin moved to Montpellier to finish his Diploma in Oenology, after which he worked for a boutique winery in the AOC Coteaux-du-Languedoc – Grés-de-Montpellier. In January 2011, Martin made the move to the UK to join Hotel TerraVina, initially to improve his English. Two months on, the sommelier bug hit and Martin started working alongside Gerard Basset MS MW and Laura Rhys MS, being appointed head sommelier in May 2013. Martin has taken WSET and The Court of Master Sommeliers courses and was named the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Young Sommelier of the Year 2014 which will take him to Copenhagen in the autumn to compete in the International Finals.
Tim Sykes joined The Wine Society in 2012 as Head of Buying, and has been in the wine business for well over 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 winning the Thresher scholarship and McNie tasting prize in his WSET diploma, he moved to OW Loeb for a four-year stint and then joined Enotria, where he remained for 15 years. He now heads the Wine Society’s team of 8 buyers, considered amongst the most experienced and talented in the business. When not working, Tim enjoys travel and cycling, often at the same time.
Aspler has been writing about wine since 1975, and has been wine columnist for The Toronto Star for 22 years. He is the author of 16 wine books, including The Wine Atlas of Canada, and three wine murder mystery novels: Blood Is Thicker than Beaujolais, The Beast of Barbaresco and Death on the Douro. In 2001, Aspler co-founded the charity Grapes for Humanity to raise money through the wine community for victims of landmines and children with disabilities. In 2007, he was awarded the Order of Canada (CM), and in 2012, he was elected to the New York Media Wine Writers Hall of Fame.
Stockholm native Totte Steneby started his career in the food industry before turning to wine in 2007, the year he passed both a sommelier exam and the WSET Advanced Certificate. In 2008 he joined Eriks Vinbar, where he currently works, and since then has taken part in several international wine competitions. In 2008 he won the Swedish Rioja Sommelier Award and Viniportugal Scholarship and, in 2010, won the ASI Nordic Championship for Sommeliers and was invited as a keynote speaker at the Asian Top Sommelier Summit in Hong Kong. In 2011 he was the winner of the Swedish Championship of Sommeliers. Steneby is the co-founder and current vice president of the Sveriges Sommeliergille, an organisation which brings Swedish sommeliers together to teach and learn from each other.
Virginia Philip MS
Virginia Philip MS became the tenth woman in the world (there are now 26), to earn the extraordinary accreditation of Master Sommelier. This achievement was complemented when she earned the national title of “Best Sommelier of the United States” in 2002. In 2012, Virginia was nominated for a James Beard Award. In addition to her role as Consulting Wine Director for The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida (known for one of the strongest wine programs in the USA) she is also the proprietor of the Virginia Philip Wine Shop & Academy located in West Palm Beach, Florida. Virginia is also known for her strong mentoring skills both to the trade and the consumer and is a contributor to “Fisher Island Magazine” and “Yachts International”.
Written by John Abbott