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Gareth Birchley: 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.

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.

Read our interview with Gareth Birchley below…

Which year or decade do you wish you’d been born in and why?
1985 – it was a great ‘all-round’ vintage. And I don’t want to wish my life away!

☆ How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’ and what was it?
My first wine ‘experience’ was visiting Gaston Huet at only a few months old. My first recollection of liking wine was a taste of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, sometime in the early 90s. My ‘eureka’ moment came at university, with a stunning bottle of Ducru-Beaucaillou 1996, and then there was no turning back!

☆ How many bottles do you have in your cellar and what is your most recent addition?
Approximately 3000 bottles. The most recent addition is a single bottle of Laville Haut-Brion Blanc 1985, intended for a 30th birthday dinner next year.

☆ How many years have you been working in the wine industry and what was your first job?
My first job was working part-time at Great Western Wine while at university in Bath. I went full-time eight years ago, when I joined Bordeaux Index, working in private client sales.

☆ Which wine do you wish you’d bought a whole case of?
1945 Mouton – for the label, the significance… and of course, the wine!

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

☆ In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered and why?
Champagne – looking beyond the big houses and exploring older vintages.

☆ Who’s your wine idol (who has inspired you the most in the wine world)?
Michael Broadbent. Having elevenses at Chippenham Lodge while at university will forever remain one of my greatest wine experiences.

☆ What’s your most memorable wine and food moment?
Returning from Vouvray aged 19 with a jar of foie gras, a St Maure and a bottle of Huet ‘Clos du Bourg, Moelleux, Première Trie’ 1990 – heaven!

☆ If you could taste/drink any wine in the world what would it be and who would you drink it with?
1955 Château d’Yquem – with my Dad.

☆ What do you enjoy most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
The efficiency and organisation, but most of all, the people. Tasting alongside the most experienced palates in the industry is a humbling experience.

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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