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 deciding this year's best wines.
Andrea Briccarello is a London-based Head Sommelier and Wine Buyer with Italian roots. In Decanter’s exclusive interview, find out about his love of wine from all over the world…
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I’m currently working for the Galvin Restaurants Group; I’m mostly based at the Michelin-starred Galvin La Chapelle in the City, but I’m also looking after the Bistro de Luxe in Baker Street (London).
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
I was raised in the hills of Piedmont and so wine was always around me. When I moved to London I had the opportunity to try exotic wines coming from Chile, Australia and the USA, and that’s what really inspired me to learn and discover more every day.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a Sommelier?
Humility. No matter what, there will be always somebody who knows more than you.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
Gerard Basset MS MW. His dedication, professionalism and humble spirit are a true source of inspiration.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
I will always remember a certain Armand Rousseau tasting – a revealing and compelling tasting of old vintages that made me discover the true beauty of Pinot. Visiting Cognac and sampling vintages from the 1800s was also another high point of my career; it was the chance of a lifetime, and that I will always carry with me.
Which kinds of wines would you like to give more attention to in 2013?
In 2013, I would love to explore the east of Europe (Croatia, Hungary etc.) but I would also love to rediscover Spain and Portugal. There are so many appellations and styles that I would love to try, and hopefully list in the future.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
Loire and Roussillon are on the top of my list at the moment. I was recently in the Loire, and I rediscovered the beauty of Chenin Blanc in all its shapes and forms (sparkling, dry and sweet). Roussillon still amazes me, with its hearty reds and crisp whites (I’m a huge fan of Grenache Gris), and I have a soft spot for VDNs (Vins Doux Naturel) like Maury and Rivesaltes.
What’s your desert island wine?
It would have to be the Baolo Granbussia 2000 from Conterno – I’ve tasted it only once but I’ve never forgotten it.
What single piece of advice do you have for people just starting out in wine?
Passion, sacrifice and attitude are the key qualities when you want to start in wine. Without passion, nobody will last more than a week working for so many hours; sacrifice is needed in order to dedicate your time to study and taste as much as possible; attitude is probably the most important of all, without it you won’t be able to progress in your career.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
For me it is all about balance; as in life, too much of something or too less of another, will unbalance the delicate and harmonious spirit of a wine. A good wine, for me, has to show personality and character almost like a book, with a great beginning, intriguing middle part and surprising finish.
Finally, what do you enjoy most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
It’s always a great opportunity to learn from the best judges in the world, and I always discover new grapes and wines in each flight we try.
Written by Decanter.com