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, find out more about Caro Maurer, a Master of Wine based in Germany, including her desert island wine and what she’s most looking forward to about judging at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards…
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I’m living in Bonn which is an ideal location for a wine writer: close to wine regions such as Mosel, Ahr or Rheingau and – thanks to the position as ex-capital – equipped with an airport close by.
I share my working time between three jobs:
- writing (for the General-Anzeiger, the daily newspaper in Bonn, responsible for the food and wine section, and the two magazines Der Feinschmecker (The Gourmet) and Fine, the German edition of the wine magazine)
- teaching (e.g. WSET diploma at the Weinakademie Austria)
- moderating wine tastings (e.g. at the next ProWein for South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Turkey)
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
I suffered from drinking too many bad wines and started to look for the good ones. My professional life supported my passion as I had been responsible for the lifestyle section of the German edition of Forbes magazine, followed by Die Welt (The World), a nationwide newspaper – including the subjects of food and wine. 20 years ago I decided to fully concentrate on food and wine, the latter became my major subject. As I wanted to intensify and structure my studies about wine I first passed the WSET Diploma (level 5) and went on with the Master of Wine which I passed in 2011.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while working in the wine industry?
It’s not the Grand Cru ruling the wine world. I especially appreciate the work of winemakers producing good and affordable basic wines which reach as many people as possible.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
My biggest inspiration was Bernhard Breuer, a great German winemaker in the Rheingau who died nine years ago. When I was a new resident on planet wine, it was him who welcomed me and supported me. He gave me the feeling that I had arrived at home and he always filled me with the courage to go on.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
When I was informed by the Institute of Masters of Wine that I have passed the theory part of the exam (what I did not expect) I was on vacation on Usedom, an island in Eastern Germany. My friends who passed too, emailed that they celebrated with Crystal or Comte. But the only wine me and my husband could get hold of were two piccolos of a cheap Eastern German sparkling: Rotkaeppchen Sekt. Nothing has ever tasted better than this simple sparkler which we drank sitting in traditional wicker beach chairs.
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
Wines with natural low alcohol like German Riesling Kabinett or Hunter Valley Semillon because I want to be able to drink a second glass.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
A moment for me is as long as a glass of wine. In the next moment I will discover and drink another one. There are too many good wines to have only one darling, even for a moment.
Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
My city is more the region Rheinland including Bonn, Cologne and Duesseldorf. Yes, there is a strong wine scene driven by young and engaged sommeliers. I’m very happy that they sometimes invite dinosaurs like me, too. It keeps me curious and open minded.
What’s your desert island wine?
If I could get hold of a bottle: 1959 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett from J. J. Prüm, Mosel
What single piece of advice do you have for new people just starting out in wine?
Listen to every wine and try to understand it before you make your judgement.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
It should have a story to tell which makes me curious.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
To taste great wines and to meet other experts to discuss them – especially when we have different opinions.
Written by Decanter
Caro Maurer MW is a wine writer based in Bonn, Germany, with a writing career spanning almost 30 years.