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.
In this exclusive interview Decanter finds out more about Emma Jenkins MW, a New Zealand-based wine writer and educator…
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I am a freelance writer and educator based in Taupo, which is a large lake in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island. Despite having a few vineyards these days, Taupo is yet to make its name as a wine region.
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
As a teenager I was always fascinated by how every wine I tried tasted different. Having studied anatomy at university, upon graduation I took a summer job in a wine shop that exposed me to an amazing selection of wine, and from then on I was simply hooked. Studying for my MW gave me a super excuse to read, taste and travel as widely as possible, and I am now fortunate to continually meet wonderful, passionate and interesting people from all facets of the trade who continue to inspire and educate.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a wine writer?
To listen and learn, and to always be honest.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
My first employer: Peter Taylor of Scenic Cellars. A very demanding boss but hugely generous too; his unaffected love of wine is infectious and inspiring. I learned an enormous amount from him and still do every time we meet.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
1947 Marc Bredif Vouvray (for sheer deliciousness and wonder), 2003 Château d’Yquem (for satisfaction and relief when achieving my MW), and Champagne Salon (when celebrating the births of my children).
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
As a New Zealander, I would like to see people explore beyond the obvious in this country, be it region, producer or variety. Our diversity in wine can be easily overlooked due to the tyranny of distance and the tiny volumes [produced] but it’s worth exploring at every opportunity. Apart from that, any wine with spirit and honesty should be supported.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
Mostly samples I’m sent for review so I can keep on top of things, but apart from that, I’m happy to drink most things – it’s all grist to the mill. Favourites are always those with a bit of character and vigour. It’s been an extremely hot summer here, so anything that can be well chilled does have an extra edge at the moment!
Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
Taupo is a small town, but has surprisingly good wine shops. It’s also not difficult in New Zealand to find nearly anything you fancy online.
What’s your desert island wine?
Champagne: perfect at any time of the day. But I’d probably have to sneak in some old Madeira, too.
What single piece of advice do you have for new people just starting out in wine?
Keep your ears and eyes open, avoid fashion and prejudice, and trust your instincts.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
A wine that makes me want to find out what it is afterwards so I can buy some. Usually this is a wine with harmony and character.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
The opportunity to judge amongst world-class palates in one of the world’s greatest cities. Plus the stimulation of being surrounded by people who love wine.
Written by Decanter.com