DWWA judge profile: Jane Skilton MW

Jane Skilton MW is a judge at the at the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)
Jane Skilton MW started her wine career in London and passed her Master of Wine examination in 1993. She takes an active role in IMW activities and is a member of council, on the IMW exam and education committee, and is the co-ordinator of the annual Australian IMW educational seminar. After moving to New Zealand in 2000, Skilton founded the NZ School of Wines and Spirits, teaching the Wine and Spirit Education Trust qualifications and general wine courses to trade and consumers. She is also the wine director for Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand and divides her time between Auckland and Wellington. Skilton is the wine editor for Food magazine and a regular contributor to publications in New Zealand, Australia and China. This is the first year Skilton has been a DWWA judge.
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DWWA judge profile: Jean Reilly MW

Jean Reilly MW is a judge at the at the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)Jean Reilly MW has close to 15 years’ experience in the wine industry. She currently works as a public speaker, consultant, and the senior wine editor for Le Pan magazine, based in Hong Kong. In the past, she has run the purchasing operations of JJ Buckley Fine Wines in California, and Morrel & Companionship and the Morrell Wine Bar & Café in New York City. Reilly is also a professional skydiver and recently completed a qualification which will allocate her to fulfil her dream of parachuting into well-known vineyards and iconic wine events around the world. Reilly was first a DWWA judge in 2013.
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DWWA judge profile: Göran Klintberg

Göran Klintberg is a judge at the at the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)Göran Klintberg has been involved in the Swedish wine industry for 26 years, with roles including bartender, sommelier, and manager for numerous restaurants. In 2006, he was elected president of the Swedish Sommelier Association and in 2009 became a wine buyer for the Swedish off-trade monopoly, Systembolaget, where he is responsible for wines from Argentina and Portugal, and also works with the companionship’s CSR programme, responsible for social responsibility of its supply chain. Outside work, Klintberg enjoys a secondary career as a singer/songwriter and has released a number of CDs, and also trains extensively as an amateur triathlete. Klintberg was first a DWWA judge in 2010.
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DWWA judge profile: Roberto Della Pietra

Roberto Della Pietra is a judge at the at the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)Roberto Della Pietra is head sommelier at Clos Maggiore in Covent Garden in London. He joined the restaurant in February 2015 following stints as head sommelier at Morton’s Club in Mayfair, and at Champagne restaurant and bar Tirage in Bishopsgate, which he joined in 2013. Prior to this, Della Pietra worked as head of Gauthier Wines, where he devoted his time to the retail side of Michelin-starred London restaurant Gauthier Soho after several years on the floor. Della Pietra started his career in hospitality in 1993, as commis de rang at the Grand Hotel Moroni in Finale Ligure, Italy, previous to moving to the UK and joining the team at Pennyhill Park Hotel in Surrey, where he worked his way up to the role of sommelier. After a stint as head sommelier at L’Ortolan in Berkshire, Della Pietra went with his employer, John-Burton Race, to The Landmark to open the John-Burton Race restaurant in 1999, which was subsequently awarded two Michelin stars. In 2002, he became head sommelier and wine buyer for the Michelin-starred Roussillon restaurant in Pimlico, previous to joining Gauthier Soho in 2010. Della Pietra was first a DWWA judge in 2010.
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French Parliament backs controversial Evin Law change

French Parliament backs controversial Evin Law changeFrance's Parliament has voted to make the country's controversial Evin Law, which governs wine and alcohol exposure, more bendable - only a few days previous to French president François Hollande is due to open the Vinexpo wine honest in Bordeaux. Harvest time in Bordeaux, where French president Francois Hollande will visit Vinexpo on Sunday 14 June.The amendment to the law, proposed by Republican senator Gerard César, will now permit a greater distinction between advertising and education.
If passed into legislation, the Evin Law would subdue ban advertising on wine and additional alcohol, but educational articles and wine visiting the attractions ventures will not be at risk of breaking the law.
French winemkers have taken last nighttime’s vote as a sign of progress, with many having accused the country’s government of siding with anti-alcohol lobbyists in the past few years.
The issue has been deeply divisive, as ever in France. Health minister Marisol Touraine called this week’s Evin Law amendment ‘incomprehensible’ and Alain Rigaud, director of a national body for prevention of alcohol-related illnesses, said the health of the country ‘should not be sacrificed for economics’.
Earlier this week the Socialist Party government had indicated that it did not want the amendment to pass, but ministers across opposing parties defied them, and voted instead in favour.
Audrey Bourolleau, managing director at wine trade lobbying group Vin & Société, told Decanter.com, ‘This is a cross-party vote, and is a strong indication that there is well loved support for clarifying the Evin Law. This does not loosen up the existing law, it simply makes clearer what does and does not count as advertising. It is very excellent news for the press in France, and for wine visiting the attractions bodies – the thought of marking out a Wine Route, for example, is no longer potentially breaking the law. We were not optimistic earlier in the week, but this is a strong gesture for the worth of the wine industry to the French economy’.
The Evin Law, first introduced in 1991, bans media advertising of any drink with an alcohol make pleased of more than 1.2%. Recent years have seen the law tightened up in various aspects, with many French journalists unsure of what they are allowed to write in relation to wine and beer after key suitcases where Le Parisien (2007) and Paris Match (2012) received fines for editorial pieces.
Hollande is expected to address the issue in his opening explanation at Vinexpo, ‘There are subdue many inconsistencies within government policy,’ said Bourolleau, ‘and we want to hear that this amendment indicates a growing support for the 500,000 actors within the wine industry from the government itself’.
 
 
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Anson on Thursday: En primeur heads west

Anson on Thursday: En primeur heads westLet’s pick up where we left off, just for one final discussion about en primeur previous to moving on for another year. Only this time, rather than talk about how Bordeaux approaches things, it might be worth looking at Napa; a place that has some pretty fascinating experiments going on with the whole wine futures market right now. Bidders at the Auction Napa Valley 2015Obviously comparing the two is crazy in many ways. Where Bordeaux, on a excellent year, sees around 400 estates engage in selling its fledgling wine, in Napa it’s something more like 40 at the very outside. And where Bordeaux has an En Primeur turnover that runs into the many, many millions on a excellent year, for Napa it represents a drop in the ocean. And where Bordeaux has been pre-selling to merchants, if not consumers, for centuries, Napa is relatively new to the game (Mondavi was amongst the first to offer it back in the 1980s, along with V Sattui).
But there are subdue things to look at – if for no additional wits than you can be particular the smart Bordeaux chateaux are doing so, and it might shed a small more set alight on what they are plotting to do (although not necessarily why).
For a start, Napa already seems to be where Bordeaux is heading; namely releasing only very tiny percentages of its overall wine through the futures programme. Only in Napa they are upfront about it. The estates tell their consumer exactly how huge a slice they are releasing (nearly invariably 10-15%), and at what discount it is from the final in-bottle release fee (as far as I have seen between 10 -20% discount). And there are plenty of instances when they don’t even offer a discount on the bottled wine, but make the whole thing about access. Oh, and many only offer futures in the best vintages.
 
The largest player in the Californian Futures game is the yearly Napa Premiere auction that has been running each February since 1996. This is a weeklong event with tastings and dinners where the trade will bid on specific wine futures (around 90% come from wines yet to be bottled). The second huge futures auction is the charity event Auction Napa Valley, which took place this week and raised over US$15 million. Part of the weekend involves a Barrel Auction of unfinished wine where consumers bid frankly and wineries provide tastings from the barrel.  This year it set a confirmation, raising US$1.9 million through the sale of 120 lots of wine futures.
 
But increasingly, private wineries also run their own programmes direct to consumers, nearly always for wine club members, subscribers or best customers. V Sattui Winery, Château Montelena and Joseph Phelps Vineyards are three of the most prominent, but there are several others gaining increasing attention, from Nickel & Nickel to Lail Vineyards. They offer personalised marks, limited editions, special bottle sizes, name engravings, private tastings during the ageing administer, basically anything that makes buying wine as a future a way of establishing a private connection with their customers (or ‘patrons’ as Bill Harlan calls buyers of his new Promontory Estate, taking the ‘keep your customer pleased’ schtick to its most likely end).
But there is another futures model that is quietly gaining traction, in the form of a companionship based on the East Coast of the United States called e-Cep. Started in 2012 by Frenchman Serge Marquié and his wife Sally Wilkinson, it has made a business out of brokering futures for some of the most iconic Napa Valley wines including Staglin, Scarecrow and Continuum. They offer a direct-to-consumer bond that has so far been sold to a few thousand customers.
 
I spar to Marquié this week to be with you how it might develop. ‘In the US, there is no need for a Futures market for wines that are readily available. If it can be seen on the shelf, then there is no need to buy in advance. Instead we are looking to provide access to exclusive wines not for a discount but as a way of getting around the well-known waiting lists for the top Napa names. The bond is available earlier than the email lists sent out to the wineries’ favourite customers and works as a complement to their direct sales, or those that go through a merchant. It’s not an intermediary model. We are not buying and selling, it is a platform that allows wineries to sell direct to consumers. But instead of buying the wine they are issued with a bond, which is approved by the winery previous to being accepted. They then take delivery of the wine direct from the property when it is bottled’.
 
‘Wineries all have their own reasons for working with us – for some it’s a way to test new thoughts, others offer verticals or use it to pre-sell specific bottles sizes such as magnums or jeroboams that are tough to commit to for small production estates. Growers that have more than one winery may issue terroir packs representing all of their vineyards. It’s a way to risk manage, or to test for prices, or just to offer an additional benefit for buyers. The only thing that is never a motivation for the wineries is cash management. It is not a way to get advance funds in the way that En Primeur is – the quantities sold are just too small for that’.
‘We are not plotting to extend this to Bordeaux, but I can see it avoids a lot of the issues that En Primeur has such as lack of transparency and over-influence of intermediaries. And when I look at the Bordeaux market, there is one property that surely should be looking closely at bonds; and that is Château Latour. They say they don’t want people to drink their wine early, but it would make sense for them to sell in the form of bonds today. They say one of their huge issues is provenance; so selling bonds against future bottlings is a fantastic way to stay right to their intentions while giving assurances to their customers, and keeping their brand active’.
The largest stumbling block for any of these things in Bordeaux is the number produced by most chateaux here. Direct to consumer is very tough when you make thousands of suitcases of your top wine, and to date no one has been better at championing the quality of Bordeaux than the thousands of merchants around the world who subdue like these wines, despite current frustrations. But if we accept that châteaux are starting to question their existing strategy, then it’s certainly worth looking to see what lessons can be learnt from Napa.
And one thing that Napa has clearly taken to heart is that well-heeled wine drinkers are looking for greater date. So let’s place it another way – Bordeaux chateaux might only be thought about disrupting their immediate supply chain, but is there a larger opportunity for us as consumers here? If En Primeur is to continue, as surely it will in some form, shouldn’t we be following Napa wine drinkers and asking for more?
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DWWA judge profile: Hamish Anderson

Hamish Anderson is a judge at the at the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)Hamish Anderson started his career in wine as sommelier at Bibendum, the original Conran restaurant in the Michelin building. He is currently the head sommelier and wine buyer for Tate, whose cellars have won numerous awards. His book Vino: Fantastic Wine for Everyday Life, sold over 15,000 copies and he currently writes regular columns for the Saturday Telegraph Magazine and Imbibe, along with contributions to Telegraph Men.
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DWWA judge profile: Peter Richards MW

Peter Richards MW is Regional Chair for Chile and Brazil at the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA)A presenter on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, Peter Richards MW has won many awards for his work and his credits include Sky One, ESPN, The Guardian, ITV1, Radio 4, Times Online and BBC2. Richards is a regular Decanter contributor as well as chairman of the Retailer Awards and, after publishing his book Wines of Chile, and Chile Wine Brief, he was recently described as “the world’s leading commentator on Chilean wine”. Together with his wife and fellow MW Susie Barrie, Richards runs a wine school and launched Wine Festival Winchester in November 2014. Richards was first a DWWA judge in 2004.
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