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DWWA 2014: Loire judging panel

Find out about our Decanter World Wine Awards 2014 Loire judging panel with biographies of the Regional Chair Jim Budd plus Andy Howard MW, Beverley Blanning MW, Chris Hardy, Chris Kissack, Margaret Rand, Rebecca Palmer and Stephen Skelton MW.

Regional chair: Jim Budd

Budd moved from education to wine in 1988, and has contributed to Decanter since 1989. He is chairman of the Circle of Wine Writers and editor of its Circle Update newsletter. He also writes on the award-winning Jimsloire.blogspot.com and is one of the five members of the blog Les5duvin.wordpress.com. Budd helped the Wine & Spirit Trade Association draw up advice on avoiding fraud when investing in fine wines and continues to expose the dangers of drinks investment on his award-winning website Investdrinks.org, and complementary blog Investdrinks-blog.blogspot.com. Budd also contributes to Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book and is a keen photographer.


Andy Howard MW

Andy Howard MW has over 30 years’ experience as a buyer at Marks & Spencer. Within the wine category he was responsible for Burgundy, Bordeaux, Loire, Italy, North and South America, South Africa, Portugal, England, Port & Sherry. Howard became a MW in September 2011, following his MW dissertation on the UK wine trade’s attitude to Premier Cru Chablis. His key areas of expertise are Burgundy and Bordeaux but, from his buying experience, he has a great respect for the wines of Chile, Argentina and South Africa. Howard lives in London but also has a house in Gaillac, where he made wine for 6 vintages. Closer to home, he has chaired the judging at the annual SEVA awards for the past 7 years. Howard left M&S in 2013 to focus on consultancy through his new business – Vinetrades.

Beverley Blanning MW

Beverley Blanning MW is a London-based independent wine journalist and the author of Wine Tasting and Biodynamics in Wine. A feature writer and taster for Decanter, and a contributor to other publications around the world, Blanning has judged at numerous wine competitions internationally. She is also a presenter and educator for corporate, consumer and trade events, including the Christie’s Wine Course.

Chris Hardy

Chris Hardy joined Majestic as a trainee manager in July 1994, and moved into the buying department in June 1995. Initially responsible for fine wine purchases and putting together Majestic’s first ever en primeur campaign, Hardy gradually took on the buying responsibility for most of France as well as Australia, South Africa and North America. Over the past 18 years he has bought from most of the wine regions of the world but, being a true Francophile, he has more recently focused on France. Hardy is passionate about all the classic regions but is particularly interested in both the Loire and the Languedoc, due to the diversity of wine styles produced in both regions.

Chris Kissack

Chris Kissack is the author of TheWinedoctor.com, a subscription website which he has been publishing since 2000. He has focused on Bordeaux and the Loire for many years, and has been a frequent visitor to both regions since 1993. In the Loire, Kissack visits domaines, experiences the vineyards and harvest first hand, meets the winemakers and reports on their wines throughout the year. In Bordeaux, Kissack is a regular reporter from the annual en primeur tastings, and publishes one of the most detailed primeur reports in existence. He also reviews the wines at two, four and ten years of age, providing valuable guidance for the Bordeaux drinker.

Margaret Rand

Margaret Rand is a past editor of Wine Magazine, Wine & Spirit International and Whisky Magazine. She now writes for World of Fine Wine, Drinks Business, Decanter and the FT among others, and is general editor of Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book. She is working on a new edition of Grapes and Wines, and in 2013 won the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year award.

Rebecca Palmer

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.

Stephen Skelton MW

Skelton started his career in wine in 1975. After 12 months at Schloss Schönborn in Germany’s Rheingau 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 1988–1991. Skelton 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.

Written by John Abbott

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