Find out more about the world-renowned names that make up the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards judging line-up in this Q&A series.
☆ Which year or decade do you wish you’d been born in and why?
I wish I had been born in the 60’s as this would make me old enough to have experienced first hand the rise of viticulture in New Zealand. New Zealand’s wine industry really only kicked off a few decades ago and I wish I’d been old enough to watch and work in this pivotal time of the country’s evolving wine industry. The discovery and development of world class wines we see being produced in New Zealand today would have been a phenomenal experience.
☆ How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’ and what was it?
I was probably in my early twenties when I discovered a perfect wine and food match. I still remember the feeling of complete fulfilment that washed over me.
☆ How many bottles do you have in your cellar and what is your most recent addition?
Not enough! My most recent addition was the 2008 Isole e Olena ‘Cepparello’ from Tuscany.
☆ How many years have you been working in the wine industry and what was your first job?
I’ve only been working in the wine industry for the last six years. Before this, I was a chef.
☆ Which vintage and region (or wine) do you wish you’d bought a whole case of wine from?
The 2009 Bell Hill Chardonnay from Waipara, New Zealand.
☆ In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?
Pinot Noir. I just love everything about this varietal and how it is evolving all over the world. New Zealand rivalled Burgundy at one point and now it is nice to see new regions rivalling New Zealand in turn.
☆ In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered and why?
I have always been a huge fan of Martinborough, and no more so than now. Central Otago and Marlborough tend to dominate when it comes to New Zealand wine but I believe Martinborough showcases the best smaller producers from anywhere in New Zealand. The depth and concentration produced from this region is outstanding and, although small in comparison to pretty much everywhere else in New Zealand, this region is definitely worth shouting about.
☆ Who’s your wine idol (who has inspired you the most in the wine world)?
My inspiration comes from a number of outstanding winemakers and vineyard owners, but lately I have become excited about Ruth Spivey. She encourages consumers away from supermarket wine, supports the little guys, and turns heads with unique events in the wine trade.
☆ What’s your most memorable wine and food moment?
The first time a plate of foie gras and a glass of Sauternes was put in front of me was pretty idyllic …
☆ If you could taste/drink any wine in the world what would it be and who would you drink it with?
1990 Dom Pérignon Rosé with my husband.
☆ What do you enjoy most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
I really enjoy the detailed discussion and process involved in awarding a wine a gold medal.