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.
Find out more about Jane Parkinson, a freelance journalist who spends her time contributing to various wine magazines and publications including Decanter, as well as hosting regular tastings, wine courses and masterclasses.
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
I got into wine during university. I lived in Dijon for a year so I did my dissertation on Burgundy, and as soon as I started my research – travelling into the vineyards on weekends to interview producers and taste wines – I caught the wine bug big-time and have never looked back.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a journalist?
To be ultra-careful with the facts. Wine is such a wonderfully intricate subject that there are many opportunities to slip up.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
Good question! There are many, and all for different reasons, but two constants have been Jancis Robinson MW and Joanna Simon.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
Again, so many! And it’s not necessarily about drinking back vintages of some of the world’s most acclaimed wines, but for me it’s more simple affairs – like having a chilled White Port as you sail slowly down the Douro on a blisteringly hot day. Having the first ever wine from my vintage – a Selvapiana at the estate – was also hugely memorable.
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
Sherry and Franciacorta.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
It changes all the time, but in the last week or so I’ve opened a Palo Cortado, an Alto Adige Kerner, a Limari Syrah, a Bulgarian Pinot Noir and a Dolcetto d’Alba.
What’s your desert island wine?
Champagne. But which one? It sounds a bit obvious but the 2002 Dom Perignon is sublime at the moment, so maybe I’d go for that.
What single piece of advice do you have for new people just starting out in wine?
Taste and record at every possible opportunity. There’s no substitute for experiencing a wine on your palate, no matter how good the textbook.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
I’m looking for that special balance of contrasts. When a wine can be elegant but characterful, smooth but textured, fresh but rounded, and taste delicious to boot, it’s truly a great wine for me.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Judging is like an annual MOT for your palate, as you’re in an environment where for once you’re not tasting in solitude, so I’m looking forward to tasting alongside my peers and seeing where both my palate and theirs are at.
Written by Decanter