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Antony Moss MW: DWWA 2014 judge

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.

Antony Moss MW is director of strategic planning for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), where he works on long-term business planning and new product development. He is the author of WSET textbook Wines & Spirits: Looking Behind the Label and previously worked for UK supermarket Sainsbury’s.

Read our interview with Antony Moss MW below…

Which year or decade do you wish you’d been born in and why?
Sometime far in the future. I’m curious to see how things will evolve in, say, a million years from now. Will our descendants colonise the stars? Will they find other intelligent life? Will it end in catastrophe? Of course there is a risk I could find myself totally alone if things don’t work out…

☆ How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’ and what was it?
Maybe seven or eight. My parents were given a bottle of Blue Nun to drink at Christmas and I kept the cork in a glass jar. Some months later I opened the jar and was amazed by how fruity the air inside smelled. That could be the origin of my love of German wines!

☆ How many years have you been working in the wine industry and what was your first job?
My first job was 16 years ago, as a part-time retail sales advisor for S.H. Jones in Leamington Spa. It was a new shop and we had a lot of freedom to experiment, so we built up an amazing malt whisky club and had a great deal of fun working with local restaurants to run food and wine evenings.

☆ Which wine do you wish you’d bought a whole case of?
Penfolds Grange 1998. In fact, I did buy a whole case and every bottle has been consumed under special, memorable circumstances, and each has been better than the previous. I now have just two bottles left and wish I’d bought another case.

☆ In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?
Pinot Noir, followed closely by Riesling.

☆ In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered and why?
Honestly, it is sake in Japan. I have been there three times in the last year, on WSET business, and managed to fit in visits to several breweries each time. I love the way traditions are preserved by the tiny producers, and I am fascinated by the application of technology in the industrial giants (who still use traditional artisan methods for their competition Junmai Daigonjo sakes). But most of all, I love the aromas and structure of this unique drink.

☆ Who’s your wine idol (who has inspired you the most in the wine world)?
Very early on in my career, I soaked up the Oxford Companion to Wine and Tom Stevenson’s Encyclopaedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine. These formed the basis of my knowledge and my wine-aesthetic values. The more I have been involved in writing, the more I have come to recognise what an achievement these two books are. Tom and Jancis Robinson MW remain my two wine idols.

☆ What’s your most memorable wine and food moment?
There are two, but they are conceptually linked. 15 years ago someone recommended a mature Côte Rotie to partner with an umami-rich game bird and I immediately discovered their aromatic argument (pairing gaminess with gaminess) was irrelevant, as the intense umami in the dish made the wine taste undrinkably bitter and metallic. Then, about 5 years ago at a lecture by Jerry Comfort of Beringer Vineyards, which covered some of the ideas Tim Hanni MW talks about, I had a eureka moment when I realised that there is no objective target for food and wine pairing. Instead there are just personal preferences for wines, and flavour interactions with food can enhance or detract from an individual’s perception of the wines they drink.

☆ If you could taste/drink any wine in the world what would it be and who would you drink it with?
A selection of Champagnes and Hocks from the great comet vintage, 1811. But to avoid fake or out-of-condition bottles, I would drink these around 1820 and ideally with Arthur Schopenhauer. He seems like he would be a fun drinking partner, and we would have much to discuss.

☆ What are you most looking forward to about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
The chance to have my aesthetic values challenged – to have another expert judge point me in the direction of pleasure in a sample I might otherwise have misunderstood and dismissed. This is the great value of judging as a panel and having time to discuss our decisions, it improves the quality of the judging, and improves the quality of the judges!

For more information on this year’s competition, including how to enter, visit the Decanter World Wine Awards website

Written by Decanter

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