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.
Dee Blackstock MW joined Waitrose in 1991 and has been made a Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole in recognition of her services to French wine in her buying role. She currently sits on the wine committee for government hospitality, and began her career in the wine trade in 1984 through Gerard Harris Wines in Aston Clinton.
Read our interview with Dee Blackstock MW below…
☆ Which year or decade do you wish you’d been born in and why?
2009, as it was a great claret vintage year, which I hope people would give me as presents on significant birthdays/anniversaries. I would still have most of my life ahead of me, and knowing how important the wine world would be for me, I could make an earlier start in it!
☆ How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’ and what was it?
About 13, en route by car, through France to Portugal for a family holiday. My father chose a restaurant in Chiroubles, a Beaujolais village, and we drank the local wine with a lovely lunch – an epiphany!
☆ How many bottles do you have in your cellar and what is your most recent addition?
Actually at home, probably about 60-70, but I have invested in some good Bordeaux to sell/enjoy later. However, my latest purchase was some excellent red and white southern Italian wine, Triade, from Waitrose.
☆ How many years have you been working in the wine industry and what was your first job?
About 30 years. My first job was typing the wine lists for Gerard Harris, the fine wine merchant side of The Bell Inn in Aston Clinton.
☆ Which wine do you wish you’d bought a whole case of?
1985 Château Lafite.
☆ In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?
Chardonnay. I love white Burgundy, as well as some of the Burgundian styles to be found in Central Otago and Mornington Peninsula.
☆ In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered and why?
Greece – I was lucky enough to visit on a wine trip last year and discovered a whole new world of grape varieties, weather conditions and terrain, along with a new generation of talented viticulturalists and winemakers. Oh, and not to mention sensational food!
☆ Who’s your wine idol (who has inspired you the most in the wine world)?
Dominique Demarville, chef de cave at Veuve Clicquot. For someone who is so talented and revered, he is very modest and always delighted to help inform and discuss. He is my living idol. No longer with us is my other idol, Daniel Thibault, from Charles and Piper Heidsieck.
☆ What’s your most memorable wine and food moment?
On a warm summer evening, Dom Perignon rosé with an amazing cold soup of lightly jellied lobster consomme, with grains of caviar suspended in it, topped with a layer of delicate cream of cauliflower. Looking down on it you thought it was a vichyssoise of some sort, but when you took up your spoon you could see the grains of caviar, which then exploded in your mouth like bubbles in champagne – a wow moment!
☆ If you could taste/drink any wine in the world what would it be and who would you drink it with?
I would be greedy and ask to drink a range of wines from 1985 (the first notable vintage after I started working in the trade) which had miraculously been stored under the sea to preserve them. Champagne, claret, Burgundy and Port, to go with different courses of a simple meal, and I would drink them with some close friends who are not in the trade but just love wine, so they could understand how special top wines are when they are aged well.
☆ What do you enjoy most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Being able to immerse myself in evaluating some of the best wines in the world in a quiet serious environment in a team of my peers, knowing that we could be about to identify a new and rising star or endorse a well-established wine which might otherwise fall off the radar. It is also a lot of fun and a chance to catch up with people and news from around the wine world.
For more information on this year’s competition, including how to enter, visit the Decanter World Wine Awards website
Written by Decanter