To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Decanter World Wine Awards, we're profiling a number of this year's judges, who are some of the world's most renowned wine experts. Our 'Meet the Judges' interview series offers a rare insight into the world of wine and judging from the key industry experts choosing this year's best wines.
Dirceu Vianna Junior MW has over 20 years experience in the wine industry and is currently Coe Vintners’ Wine Director. In this interview he tells Decanter about his inspirations, dining with royalty, and which wines he’s enjoying drinking at home…
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I’m London-based and have been in the industry for over 20 years. I’m the Wine Director at Coe Vintners, and aside from my main job I enjoy contributing to several external consultancy projects, as well as writing and lecturing.
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
I became involved with wine as soon as I arrived in the UK in the late 80s, and I’ve not stopped studying since. Most people consider me as a South American wine specialist, but I know just as much about classic European wine-producing areas.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while working in the wine industry?
No matter how much you know, there is always room for improvement.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
People who inspire me are individuals such as Olivier Humbrecht MW and Jacques Thienpont, who combine talent and passion with simplicity and humility. Integrity is vital in our business – I’ve been inspired and learnt a lot about this from my boss, John Coe.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
Enjoying lunch with Prince Robert de Luxembourg and drinking all the first growths from 1982.
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
Given the economic situation, I think it will be wise to give attention to and reward wines that punch above their weight, offering real value to the Decanter reader.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
I often enjoy Champagne and white Burgundies. In terms of reds, I tend to vary a lot but it is fair to say that I drink more Old World. In preparation for a project that I’m undertaking later this year, I’ve been reading, tasting and enjoying the diversity that Portuguese wines have to offer.
What’s your ‘desert island’ wine?
This is a tough question since I ‘ve been privileged to share some remarkable bottles with amazing friends over the years. It would probably be easier to draw a list of the top 100. Near the top would be A.A. Ferreira Garrafeira’s 1863 Port.
What single piece of advice do you have for people just starting out in wine?
Don’t be intimidated or afraid of making mistakes.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
In a great wine I look for intensity, concentration and personality. A great wine should possess sophisticated structure, refined texture combined with harmony, persistency and layers of complexity. Great wine puts you in a good mood and makes you want to share it with people around you.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Sharing knowledge and learning from some of the best tasters in the world (as well as a cold beer at the end of a long tasting day, which is always something to look forward to).
Written by Decanter.com