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.
Emilio Del Fante is maitre d’hotel and head sommelier for the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola in Lugano, where he has worked since 1995. He was named Best Sommelier of Switzerland 2001 and in 2003, he received his professional sommelier diploma from the Italian Association of Sommeliers.
Read our interview with Emilio Del Fante below…
☆ Which year or decade do you wish you’d been born in and why?
If I could choose, I would like to have been born in the 70s and been more involved in the wine world from the start.
☆ How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’ and what was it?
I was about 26 and had the chance to visit the Mosel wine region in Germany. It was a beautiful experience.
☆ How many bottles do you have in your cellar and what is your most recent addition?
I have about 5000 bottles. I recently added some Italian sparkling wines and some 2ème Cru Classé Bordeaux.
☆ How many years have you been working in the wine industry and what was your first job?
I have been working as a maître d’hotel for about 30 years and as a sommelier for about 25 years. My first job was as commis de rang at the 4 star Hotel Reber Au Lac in Switzerland.
☆ Which vintage and region (or wine) do you wish you’d bought a whole case of wine from?
The 1985 Vega Sicilia Unico. It is simply extraordinary.
☆ In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?
Mostly Merlot, but also Sangiovese as a close second.
☆ In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered and why?
I recently returned to the Mosel with some friends and also explored the Rheingau. It was just I remembered. Another trip has taken me to the Douro in Portugal where I had the opportunity to speak with some very interesting winemakers.
☆ Who’s your wine idol (who has inspired you the most in the wine world)?
I have always appreciated the ‘simple vignerons’, those extremely hard working, passionate people, whom one meets in places like Piedmont, Tuscany, Alsace and Switzerland.
☆ What’s your most memorable wine and food moment?
A few years ago I was invited to dinner by a friend. His wife had prepared the most amazing meal and the wines they choose to share were unforgettable – Krug, Montrachet, Romanèe-Conti, Petrus, and Barolo Chinato.
☆ If you could taste/drink any wine in the world what would it be and who would you drink it with?
An aged Amarone from Dal Forno Romano with people who are equally passionate about the wines of this producer.
☆ What’s the highest number of wines you’ve had on one of your wine lists?
About 450 bins – not as many as I should have liked to have, but enough!
☆ What is the oldest bottle of wine you’ve served?
I was serving at a private party where an 1870 was served with dessert.
☆ What are you most looking forward to about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
It is always a pleasure for me to meet new people, share experiences, and learn more about wine.
Written by Decanter
Emilio Del Fante has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry and now works with wine producers in the