The International Wine Challenge (IWC) brings together many of the most important people in the wine world.
Introducing the Co-Chairs
Get an exclusive glimpse behind the scenes of this year's IWC judging as our six distinguished Co-Chairs, leaders in their respective fields, take charge of the judging process. Tim Atkin MW, Sam Caporn MW, Oz Clarke, Dr. Jamie Goode, Peter McCombie MW, and Helen McGinn meticulously taste each and every wine that has been entered into the competition.
Tim Atkin MW
Tim is a British wine writer with an international following, with more than 30 awards to his name, including the 2015 Louis Roederer Wine Feature Writer of the Year and the 2014 Fortnum & Mason On-Line Drinks Writer of the Year. In 2012, he was selected as one of the ten most influential people in the world of wine by Wine Intelligence.
He writes for Gourmet Traveller Wine, Decanter, Imbibe, The Drinks Business, Woman and Home, The World of Fine Wine, Robb Report, Jamie Magazine and his own website, www.timatkin.com, where he publishes authoritative annual reports on Bordeaux, Burgundy, South Africa, Argentina and Rioja. Tim is also one of the Three Wine Men with Oz Clarke and Olly Smith, whose mission is promote better wine.
Tim is respected for his forensic, unsnobbish palate and judges wine all over the world. He passed the Master of Wine exam at the first attempt in 2001, winning the Robert Mondavi Award for the best set of theory papers, and holds a BA in French from Durham University and an MSc in European Studies from the London School of Economics.
Sam Caporn MW
Sam Caporn has been in the wine industry for over 20 years and runs her own wine consultancy business; The Mistress of Wine which she set up in 2012. Prior to that she travelled extensively around the world blending and buying wines whilst working for Accolade Wines and Direct Wines. At the latter she was responsible for Australia, New Zealand, the Loire, Champagne and Central and Eastern Europe. Four years as Tastings Co-ordinator at Wine Magazine preceded those roles and was arguably one of the very best jobs to have whilst studying for the Master of Wine exams. Sam went on to pass both parts of the examination (both practical and theory) first time and in a career highlight was awarded the 2011 Madame Bollinger Foundation Award for Excellence in Tasting which is awarded to the individual who achieves the highest marks in the rigorous Master of Wine blind tasting papers.
Oz is one of the world's leading wine experts, whose formidable reputation is based on his extensive wine knowledge and accessible, no-nonsense approach. His numerous award-winning books include Pocket Wine Guide, 250 Best Wines, Bordeaux and Let me tell you about wine. Oz's third BBC TV series with 'Top Gear' co-presenter James May was 'Oz and James Drink to Britain'. For this series and the accompanying book Oz and James were awarded the International Wine Challenge Personality of the Year Award. Oz has since filmed two series with comic Hugh Dennis and there is more ongoing television with James May. In 2010 Oz became an Officier de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole for services to French agriculture.
Dr Jamie Goode
Jamie obtained a PhD in plant biology and worked as a science editor before deciding that his passions lay with wine. He authors www.wineanorak.com, is the weekly columnist for the Sunday Express and writes for several magazines. In 2006 he won a Glenfiddich award for his first book, Wine science (Mitchell Beazeley), and in 2007 he won a second Glenfiddich award, this time as Wine Writer of the Year. Jamie is currently working on a book titled Natural wine, with Sam Harrop MW.
Peter McCombie MW
Peter's career in wine started in sales working with legendary Winecellars that champion Italian wines. He now operates an independent wine consultancy service, focused on hotels and restaurants.
Born and raised in New Zealand, now resident in London, he speaks widely, hosting corporate and public events as well as industry seminars. He teaches at the Christie's Wine Course and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, as well as conducting bespoke courses for anyone from beginners to MW students. He writes for a number of publications and has judged wine competitions around the world.
Helen is the author of The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club, an award-winning wine blog and best-selling wine book. She spent almost a decade sourcing wines around the world as a wine buyer for Tesco, then spent the next half-decade pregnant. Married with three children, she writes a weekly drinks column for the Daily Mail’s Femail magazine and has been the resident wine expert on ITV’s The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Her latest book, Teetotal Tipples, was published in December 2016 and her third book is due out in the Autumn. Awards include Fortnum & Mason’s Online Drink Writer of the Year and Red Magazine’s Best Blogger.
Introducing the Sake Co-Chairs
Simon Hofstra is owner of Taste of Sake, a company specialized in consulting, importing, distribution and education of sake. He was one of the first non-Japanese in Europe who started to work with traditional Japanese sake. Simon Hofstra is awarded the prestigious title Sake Samurai in 2009, he was winner of the Sake Contribution Award in 2008 and is educator for the WSET Award in Sake.
Ken Ohashi MW
Kenichi (Ken) Ohashi MW is a leading Japanese wine and Sake distributor in Tokyo with accolades from the industry. Awarded Best Wine Merchant 1999 by Japan Sommelier Association he has shown his intricate knowledge of the subject both at home and abroad. He is author of "Natural Wine" and is the online wine columnist of Japan's top wine publication 'Wine Report'. He holds a Diploma from WSET in London and has been certified as a Master of Sake (SSI) and Sake Expert Assessor (NRIB). In addition, he has started exporting his selection of Sake and Japanese wines to the world market. He is a Master of Wine and was also awarded the Personality of the Year 2016 by IWC.
Takuya Kusuda is a wine and Sake instructor at the Academie du Vin in Tokyo and Osaka. He ranks as one of Japan’s leading wine writers, translators and educators. His translation of Robert Parker Junior’s Bordeaux in 1988 was the first to be published in Japanese. He was editor of Stephan Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Japanese Edition), co-author of Wine TAIZEN (2000), and associate Editor of Wine Kingdom, a top Japanese wine magazine. In 2011, he qualified as the first Japanese certified Official Burgundy Wine Instructor from BIVB. He is the individual title holder for the National Japanese Sake Championship (1986). He also has over 30 years’ winemaking experience from vineyards in Germany, Napa, Burgundy, New Zealand and Japan.
Ake is a Diploma sommelier, founder & owner of Akebono Unlimited AB. Founded in 1995 Akebono is today the Scandinavian leading importer and distributor of Japanese Sake. In 1990 he started to travel Japan and visit Sake breweriers to gain a deep understanding of the process and has since then visit Japan more than 50 times. The last nine years he has been a teacher of two of Sweden's sommelier schools and weekly been giving lectures and seminars of sake to professionals and amateurs at university level and trade shows. He also does annually guided gourmet trips to Japans Sake breweries and the interesting Izakaya world.
Beau is one of the foremost non-Japanese authorities of sake in the world. He opened the first dedicated sake retail store outside of Japan in San Francisco, California in 2003. Along with a Master Sake Sommelier License (Kikisake-shi), Beau has been presented the prestigious and inaugural Sake Samurai title as well as the 10th Anniversary Honorary Kikisake-shi distinction. He is an educator, promoter, protector of sake who works in breweries whenever time permits.
The Panel Chairs role is crucial - they control the individual tasting panels to ensure that the quality, potential and typicity of every wine is fairly, professionally and consistently assessed. The Panel Chairs are in attendance for the full 10 days of judging and like the Co-Chairs, are the IWC's core group of tasters.
Nick Adams MW
Nick has been in the wine trade for 30 years and passed the Master of Wine exam in 1992. He grew up in good old W&A Gilbey wholesale (then part of IDV UK) before moving onto the pioneering Geoffrey Roberts agency house, the forerunner for New World wines in the UK. He has spent equal time working in both the On and Off trade channels and now runs his own company First Glass Wine Services, working closely with both the Independent and On Trades and with Corporate and Private clients.
Richard Bampfield MW
Richard became a Master of Wine in 1990 and managed Australian company Brown Brothers' UK office for 9 years. He now works in public relations for Yvon Mau in Bordeaux and Albert Bichot in Burgundy, and other clients include Leiths School of Food and Wine, Dom Perignon Champagne, Santa Rita Estates, Château Sociando-Mallet and the English Wine Group. He was European Champagne Ambassador 2009 and is currently Chairman of the Association of Wine Educators.
Clive Barlow MW
Clive has been in the wine trade for over 20 years. He began working for Safeways in the late 1980's subsequently moving onto Peter Dominics and Wine Rack and establishing his own wine sales and consultancy business. He passed the MW in 1999 and he is currently Chair of the IMW's Education Committee.
Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.
She writes for The Yorkshire Post, Dales Life and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.
Dr Winnie Bowman is a physiotherapist, biomedical scientist and a Cape Wine Master. She is an international wine and spirit judge and panel chair. Winnie writes about wine, teaches, presents corporate tastings and appears regularly on radio and television wine shows. People, wine travel, opera, theatre, reading and art are her passions. She is the Maître of the Commanderie de Bordeaux en Afrique du Sud, a member of the Education Committe of the Institute of Cape Wine Masters, the Honorary secretary of the Circle of Wine Writers, as well as a member of the Association of Wine Educators.
Christy Canterbury MW
Christy Canterbury is a journalist, public speaker and judge based in Manhattan. Upon becoming a Master of Wine, she received the Villa Maria Award for Outstanding Performance in the Viticulture Examination. Christy’s articles have been published in Wine Enthusiast, Food Arts, Sommelier Journal, Beverage Media, TASTED and on Snooth, TimAtkin.com and several other blogs, including her own. Christy is the Consulting Editor of the recently released book, Rock & Vine, and the Italy Editor for the Professional Wine Reference. Her 2012 public speaking appearances included the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference, the Women in Wine Leadership Symposium and TEXSOM. Prior to going independent, Christy was the Global Beverage Director for Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and the National Wine Director for Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group. In retail, she sourced wines from within and outside Italy for Italian Wine Merchants.
Brendan is a Graduate of Charles Sturt University, where he studied winemaking and viticulture. He has been successfully making a diverse range of table wine styles for over twenty years, as well he is a blender and custodian of some of the oldest and richest fortified wine stocks in Australia. He is a passionate wine educator and regularly judges wines throughout Australia.
Ulrich is a winemaker with over 20 years of experience. After an apprenticeship as winemaker and studying oenology in Germany he worked for premium wineries in Spain, France, Napa Valley, Italy and the UK. He has been judging wines internationally for almost as many years.
Ulrich lives in Sussex. He runs Hoffmann & Rathbone, a boutique winery producing fine English Sparkling Wines and also international winemaking consultancy Vivid Wines servicing clients in the UK, Italy and the Lebanon.
Susan Hulme MW
Susan Hulme became a Master of Wine in 2005. She was awarded the 2005 Bollinger Tasting Medal, an award not given every year, for the best tasting papers in the Master of Wine exam. She set up her company Vintuition Ltd in 2000 to run courses for both the general public and trade. She is a former Chairman of the Association of Wine Educators and is the current editor of their newsletter.
Anne Burchett is a wine marketing and communications specialist and a lecturer on the business of wine. She has worked in the wine trade for nearly thirty years.
Her latest role before setting up her own business was MD of Sopexa UK, an agency for international marketing, promotions, press and public relations specialising in food and wine.
She also held a number of General Management, Sales and Marketing positions for various French wine producers, namely, Chantovent, Skalli, Vinival, Grands Chais de France and Castel UK and for Waverley Vintners.
She graduated from European Business School in 1985 with a Master degree in Marketing and passed her WSET Diploma in 1999. She was awarded a Special Recognition Award for services to French wines by Harpers Wine and Spirit in 2014.
French born, Anne Burchett has now lived and worked in the UK for longer than she has lived in France.
Anne Krebiehl MW
German-born but London-based, Anne Krebiehl MW is a freelance wine writer and lecturer. She is the contributing editor for Austria and England for the US Wine Enthusiast and also publishes widely in trade and consumer wine publications. She lectures, consults, translates wine-related texts and judges at international wine competitions. She completed her WSET Diploma in 2010 and was admitted to the Institute of Masters of Wine in September 2014. Anne has helped to harvest and make wine in New Zealand, Germany and Italy. More info on www.anneinvino.com
Elizabeth Kelly MW
Elizabeth has worked in the wine industry for nearly 20 years. She is currently the buying manager for Majestic wines with responsibility for Burgundy, Italy, South Africa and Fine Wine. She is also a certified educator for WSET and is deputy chair of WineGB's sustainability scheme - SWGB. Elizabeth became a Master of Wine in 2020.
Richard Kershaw MW
Born and raised in the UK, Richard travelled extensively before settling in South Africa in 1999 to make wine full time. He established Richard Kershaw Wines in January 2012 to create clonally selected, site-specific, cool climate wines in the Elgin Valley, the country's coolest wine region, choosing to focus on apposite noble grapes (ones with the ability to produce world-class examples) and now has a stable of award-winning, much in demand wines including Kershaw Elgin Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir and Kershaw Deconstructed Chardonnay and Syrah. One of only 10 Masters of Wine who actively make their own wines and South Africa's only winemaking Master of Wine, Richard is much in demand when not in the vineyard or cellar. A wine show judge for many prestigious competitions around the globe, he is also part of the educational panel for the Institute of Masters of Wine, lectures for the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) in South Africa, and shares the breadth of his knowledge with students and consumers via talks, tastings and blogs.
Martin Moran MW
Martin has been involved with wine since 1982 and over the years has worked in almost every facet including the on trade, retail, wholesale, buying, teaching, marketing, wine making, writing and broadcasting. He passed the Master of Wine exam in 1994 and has been short listed for a Glenfiddich award as well as the World Food Media Awards 'Best Drinks Writer'. He's judged at major competitions in the UK, Australia and South Africa.
Angela Mount is a wine writer, presenter and consultant, who was previously head of wine buying for Somerfield supermarkets, where her taste buds were famously insured for £10million. She set up her own business, Angela Mount Associates Ltd, seven years ago; Angela works with a number of major wine producers throughout the world, helping them develop their Uk strategy and wine styles. she is the wine writer for several consumer publications, and is a regular contributor to Harpers Wine & Spirit . She has been judging at the International Wine Challenge for many years. She also consults on a number of restaurant wine lists and is chair judge for both the Bristol and the Bath Good Food Awards.
After having trained as a linguist and musician, Ewan spent a prolonged period of globe-trotting firstly as an English teacher, then a ski-bum, then an export sales manager. Following a Damascene encounter with a bottle of Amarone della Valpolicella, Ewan came to the wine trade in 1999, joining the London on-trade team at Percy Fox & Co. He then became marketing manager looking after, among other brands, Pommery and Babich, firstly at Fox and then at Justerini & Brooks. He finally found out what he wanted to be when he grew up in 2004 when he joined the Tastings & Events team at leading UK wine merchant The Wine Society, allowing him to develop close relationships with some of the world’s most renowned wine producers. After a 10-year stint as The Wine Society’s PR Manager, Ewan returned to the Tastings & Events team in 2023.
Ken Ohashi MW
Kenichi (Ken) Ohashi MW is a leading Japanese wine and Sake distributor in Tokyo with accolades from the industry. Awarded Best Wine Merchant 1999 by Japan Sommelier Association he has shown his intricate knowledge of the subject both at home and abroad. He is author of "Natural Wine" and is the online wine columnist of Japan's top wine publication 'Wine Report'. He holds a Diploma from WSET in London and He is a Master of Wine and was also awarded the Personality of the Year 2016 by the IWC. He has also been certified as a Master of Sake (SSI) and Sake Expert Assessor (NRIB). In addition, he has started exporting his selection of Sake and Japanese wines to the world market.
Treve Ring is a wine writer and editor, judge and speaker, and perpetual traveller. She is based on Vancouver Island, Canada, though is most often found on a plane or in a vineyard.
After completing her Art History degree with Distinction from the University of Victoria and being exposed to the world of wine business at Christie’s in London, England, she switched gears, leaving the realm of art for the world of wine. She is a certified sommelier, WSET diploma holder, Wine Scholar Guild instructor, and Sherry instructor, and has been presenting on wine internationally since co-founding Cru Consultancy, a boutique wine education and consultation company, in 2012.
Treve began writing professionally in 2001. Her work has been published in World of Fine Wine, Meininger’s Wine Business International, Wine & Spirits, Sommelier Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, WineAlign, The Alchemist, Quench Magazine, Vitis, Lonely Planet Travel, and others. In addition to her role as Correspondent Anorak at WineAnorak, she is the executive editor and senior critic at Gismondi on Wine. Previously she was the longtime wine editor for EAT Magazine, editor at large for Scout Magazine, and SIP Northwest Magazine, as well as the National Managing Editor for WineAlign.
She tastes thousands of wines each year, and is an established wine judge in Canada, the UK, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United States. Though her travels take her all over the wine world, Treve has spent the last few years concentrating and researching sparkling wine globally, with a focus on Champagne.
Annette Scarfe MW
Annette Scarfe started in wine by importing from small French domaines while holding down a career as a banker. Her job eventually took her to Singapore where she decided to leave banking and focus on wine. She has since developed a reputation in wine education and consulting for both the on- and off-trade. She has also consulted for restaurants including Sake No Hana, Cha Cha Moon and Princi. Annette is a regular on magazine tasting panels, and is also a WSET-certified educator as well as a Bordeaux Educator, and prefers to work with her clients' wine personnel to deliver bespoke training or support.
Madeleine Stenwreth MW
Madeleine Stenwreth is a Master of Wine and international wine consultant based in Sweden with experience in nearly every aspect of the wine business. Prior to setting up her consultancy in 2010 she worked as quality and product development manager for a leading Nordic wine importing group, as wine buyer at the Swedish alcohol retailing monopoly (Systembolaget), as marketing manager for Wines of South Africa (WOSA) and as head sommelier and restaurant manager at 5-star Relais & Chateaux. In 2008 she received the Quinta do Noval Award for her MW dissertation, ‘The effect of altitude on Malbec in Mendoza’.
Madeleine consults globally to high-profile wine producers on product development, inspires and challenges winemakers on blending and quality and style strategy and also acts as a competence-boosting coach for trade professionals. She is a speaker at seminars, holds masterclasses and lectures at various educational institutes for sommeliers and WSET Diploma students, and is a frequent international guest judge in wine competitions all over the world.
Matthew Stubbs MW
Matthew embarked on a career in wine after deciding it was too difficult to cut it as a professional jazz musician. A stint as Agency Wine Director for Seagram UK was followed by the post as Head of Wine for Safeway. He qualified as a Master of Wine in 1996 winning the Bollinger Award for tasting and Listel award for best vinification paper. In 2003 he moved to the Languedoc to start a consultancy business and in 2008 set up Vinécole, a wine school based near Carcassonne. He lives in the less "wild" part of the Corbières.
Cathy Van Zyl MW
South Africa's only resident Master of Wine, Cathy is a regular judge for the Trophy Wine Show, occasional panellist for several other local competitions and, increasingly, overseas. Co-founder of Grape, she contributes to international magazines and websites, and lectures for the Cape Wine Academy on Tasting and World of Wine Theory. She is currently a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine's education committee responsible for organising its seminar for second-year students in Bordeaux.
Joe won the coveted International Wine and Spirit Communicator of the Year award 2005. He studied wine making in Bordeaux and has since worked as a buyer and consultant for a number of leading supermarket chains. Joe's knowledge and experience culminated in him becoming the youngest ever International Senior Judge at The Royal Melbourne Wine Show.
Since swapping a career as an electronics design engineer for a more enjoyable one in wine communication, Simon has been editor of the Which? Wine Guide, a columnist for the FT and author of a number of books, including the award-winning 'I don't know much about wine but I know what I like.' His unstuffy, entertaining style also means he is much in demand as a speaker for a wide variety of wine events.
John began his winemaking career at Petaluma winery in the late 70's whilst reading Geology at Adelaide University. Embarking on a winemaking degree at Charles Sturt University he was awarded the Ron Potter Scholarship in 1982. Whilst running Four Corners Consultancy throughout the 80s ad 90s he made own label wines from Peru to Romania and many places in between and was acclaimed for improving the quality of English Wine. Currently director of Litmus Wines Ltd, focusing on English wines, contract winemaking and wine sales www.litmuswines.com ; and Worontschak Wine Services Ltd, a wine business consultation service currently working in Russia, Mexico, Israel, China and the UK www.worontschak.com.
Clem Yates MW
Clem's career in the wine industry really began when she used her chemistry degree to study Oenology as a post graduate at Roseworthy University in Australia. It was here that she developed a real passion for the process of creating and developing wines.
Clem currently holds the role of Sourcing and Supply Director at Off-Piste Wines, who are a supplier to the UK retailers. As well as winemaking and buying she is responsible for the quality, safety and legality of all their wines. She tries to use her knowledge and experience to protect quality from the process of picking the grapes right through to when a customer opens a bottle.
Prior to joining Off-Piste, Clem was responsible for all the own label Beers,Wines and Spirits at Sainsbury’s, where she developed the “House” range of wines and re-established the Taste the difference level from around the world. She has also previously worked for Tesco in-house. She started winemaking as a flying winemaker covering vintages in both the North and Southern hemispheres including Australia, California, Chile, France and Italy.
Panel Chairs - Sake
Jennifer Docherty MW
Jennifer Docherty is a Master of Wine and a Master of Sake. She was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada but left at age eighteen to study fashion design in New York City. Her love of gastronomy led her to pursue part-time WSET wine courses which inspired her to change careers. After six years of study, she became a Master of Wine in 2015. Her love of Sake and learning has also earned her the WSET level 3 Award in Sake and the Master of Sake (SSI). She currently resides in London and is a buyer for Liberty Wines.
John Gauntner is a leading sake promoter and educator. Based in Kamakura, Japan, he is the author of seven books on sake, and is the co-publisher of the English-language sake magazine Sake Today. He is the architect and primary instructor of the Sake Professional Course, from which over 1400 people have graduated. He was awarded the Sake Samurai designation the first year that it was awarded, 2006, and has earned several rigorous industry certifications. He proselytizes about sake from www.sake-world.com
Oliver is a renowned sake specialist, shōchū advisor, and the Director of Tengu Sake—an award-winning establishment. Tengu Sake, recognised as the IWC Sake Merchant of the Year from 2016 to 2019 & 2022, is dedicated to introducing premium Japanese sake and spirits to the UK market. Oliver also leads captivating talks, tastings, and food pairings throughout the UK, sharing his experiences of visiting and working with producers in Japan. His expertise and passion have earned him a place among the 'Future 50' drinks industry professionals to watch, and he actively participates as a judge in international competitions for both sake and spirits. Oliver's contributions continue to shape and elevate the world of Japanese spirits, making him a highly respected figure.
Natsuki Kikuya is an sake educator and sake consultant. After developing her career at the well-known sake retail shop Hasegawa Saketen in Tokyo, Japan then at Zuma & Roka restaurants in London, UK as a sake sommelier, she had set up “Museum of Sake”, an agency to provide education and promotion of sake in UK. She has helped to launch Level 3 Awards in Sake at Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), which counted over 5,000 candidates in 27 countries this 2019. She was also awarded as “Sake Samurai” in 2015.
Satoshi is the president (4th generation) of Yokohama Kimijimaya Co., Ltd - a liquor store/wholesale trade company based in Yokohama, dealing Japanese Sake, Shochu, Awamori, and Wine. The company has more than 300 clients nationwide, including major hotels, top-rated restaurants and French grandes maisons in the metropolitan cities. He is also the owner of three restaurants in Tokyo (French, Italian and wine bar). He gives lectures and seminars of sake/wine to professionals and amateurs, and is also a judge/supervisor of sake for the Appellation Control Committee of Nagano prefecture since 2006.
Atsuko Kobayashi Radcliffe
Atsuko first began winemaking in her home country of Japan almost thirty years ago, gaining knowledge from France, California and Australia. She also has 18 months hands on experience making Sake at one of the most respected brewers in Japan – Urakasumi. With her passion for Winemaking and natural heritage of Sake, brings an understanding of fusion the two industries have. Atsuko currently makes her own label of wine in the Upper Hunter Valley of Australia 'Small Forest' which is derived from her family name Kobayashi.
Antony Moss MW
Antony Moss MW is director of strategic planning for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). His current role covers long-term business planning and new product development, and he was previously responsible for the WSET’s textbooks and other education materials. He has worked for the company since 2004 and was the author of Wines & Spirits: Looking Behind the Label. Antony joined the wine industry in 1998 as a part-time sales advisor for S.H. Jones in Leamington Spa, and completed his WSET diploma in 2003 while working for Sainsbury’s supermarkets. He won the Austrian wine marketing board’s prize for both his WSET diploma and MW. While continuing to coach students preparing for the MW exams, outside of the wine industry, he is a keen pianist loving especially the music of Schoenberg, Ives and Ravel.
Best-known for her multi-award-winning work as Group Head of Wine for Hakkasan, Christine is now Co-founder of drinks consultancy ‘Brimful Drinks’. She has judged at the IWC sake awards since 2007, as well as being a wine judge on numerous trade and consumer panels, and was the first European to judge at the US National Sake Appraisal. In 2013 she launched one of the first UK sake courses for consumers. Christine has won numerous awards including IWC Sake Contributor and WSET Educator of the Year.
Laure began her career in North Yorkshire and Bath as part of her initial UK placements following sommelier school in Angers, the Loire Valley before moving to London in 2003.
In total, she has worked the past eight years for Gordon Ramsay Holdings, including almost two years as Assistant Head Sommelier at Claridges, and a further six years as Head Sommelier at Maze where she gained the respect and attention of Jason.
In 2015 just set up her own project with Jason at Social Wine and Tapas, a retail and wine bar/Tapas which focuses on smaller producers. Due to the difficult trading environment, it was closed in 2019. She continues to work as executive head sommelier for the group and supports each new restaurant opening and assists all.
Managing Director at World Sake Imports (WSI) UK. Asami's career in sake started in 2002 at WSI New York as a sake specialist. When she moved to New York in 2001, she soon realized how much she doesn’t know about Japanese culture and sake. She has visited many sake brewers all over in Japan and learned the traditional culture of Japan. Asami played a key role in the growth of sake sales in NYC for WSI and helped to foster the Sake boom in New York City. She moved to London and opened the UK market from 2008. Asami had hands on Sake Brewing experience at the Masumi Brewery (Suwa, Japan) for two weeks.
Michael is a Sake Samurai, Judge, and Sommelier based in Toronto. With a wealth of qualifications and expertise in wine and sake, he serves as a respected Sake Judge and educator. Michael's passion for sake has taken him to over 50 breweries in Japan, inspiring him to create the Sake Scholar Course. He is also the co-author of "Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake." As the Beverage Director at Ki Modern Japanese + Bar, he oversees Canada's largest sake program.
Miho Komatsu is a leading co-organizer for severals Sake events. With a background in the JSS Sake and Shochu Academy, she is a certified Sake Educator and has extensive experience in global sales and marketing for a Japanese artisanal sake brewery. Miho emphasizes the deep meaning of sake and Japanese hospitality.
Senior Judges are the elite of the Challenge's tasting corps. These are individuals with great palates and considerable experience. They are Masters of Wine, winemakers, senior wine buyers or specialist wine writers. Used to tasting large numbers of wines within their daily work, they have a thorough knowledge of a broad range of wines.
Tony Allen, Mimi Avery, David Baldwin, Will Bartholomew, Mike Best MW, Beans Boughton MW, Andy Brown, Neil Bruce, Allan Cheesman, Marie Cheong-Thong, Laura Clay, David Cox, Emma Dalton, Dawn Davies, Martin Day, Annede Berard, Maureen Downey, Nick Dumergue, Tom Forrest, Vivienne Franks, Rosemary George MW, Anita Jackson, Higgo Jacobs, Laura Jewell MW,, Belinda Kleinig, Robin Langton, Phoebe Le Messurier, Paul Letheren, Claire Love, Andre Luis Martins, Kate McFruin, Graham Nash, Nick Oakley, Will Parker, Laure Patry, Jonathan Pedley MW, Phil Poulter, Matt Pym, Noel Reid, Anastasia Roncoletta, Victoria Sharples, Jenny, NicoleSmith, Emma Symington MW, Siobhan Turner, Will Willis, Duncan Wilson
Experienced tasters from all around the world, in all areas of the wine industry, give up their time to taste at the International Wine Challenge, joining at the associate judge level. They can be promoted to judges on the basis of performance reports.
Etienne Akar,Hannah Aldgate, Hope Alexander, Victor Amaro, Nicolas Angelina, Fabio Angius, Alice Archer, Siobhan Astbury, Murray Barlow, Lauren Benjamin, Sarah Benson, Mike Bentley, George Biswas, Camilla Bowler, Nick Brierley, Dominic Buckwell, Milan Budinski, Nigel Bulpitt, Marta Carbonell, Mina Carlin, Micky Chan, Ben Chan, Henri Chapon MS, Kenn Ching,
James Clark, Rebecca Coates, Alessandro Comitini, Roger Conen, Mike Dean, Geoffrey Dean, Alan Derr, Matthew Dicks, Markus A.Dilger, Alison Dillon, Rob Dixon, Achim Doerr,
Esther Duley, Sue Eames, Andrea Eby, Matthieu Elzinga, Linda Field, Federico Firino, James Flewellen, Charlie Foley, Nicky Forrest, Johann Fourie, Heike Funke, Lotte Karolina Gabrovits, Sahar Gharai, Chiara Giorleo, Elcio Giusti, Chris Goldman, Richard Goodacre, Trevor Gulliver, Clare Hanson, Simon Hardy, Alex Haruni, Pippa Hayward, Hsi-Chen (David)Hsiao, Alex Hurley, Mark Innes, Christos Ioannou, Sarah Jefford, Julia Jenkins, Paul Johnson, Anne Jones, Ákos Kamocsay, Eliza Pinta Kauce, Gary Keller, Stephen Kennard, Jonathan Kleeman, Atsuko Kobayashi Radcliffe, Orsolya Kováts, Mabel Lai, Benny, Sing Leung Lee, Stephanie Lee, Elsa Lejeune, Tom Lethaby, Mariarita Liberati, Thomas Ling, Sarah Long, Aaron Mandel, Robert Mason, Rie Matsuki, Thiago Mendes, Sophie Menegain, David Miranda, Rebecca Mitchell, Diogo Moreira, Rebecca Murphy, Lynn Murray, Yegas Naidoo, Roman Neborskiy, Lilla O'Connor, Lindsay Oram, Maria Laura Ortiz, Nelson Pari, Neeta Patel, Mark Payne, Nelio Pinto, Ricardo Pinto Nunes, Fleur Pushack, Christopher Racey, Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright, Emma Roberts, Lisa Rogerson, Maria Scala, Chris Scott, Matthew Scowen, Pippa Sedgwick, Daniela Shelton, Claire Sheppard, George Shields, Martin Shillitoe, Toby Sigouin, Ruma Singh, Chris Skyrme, Jamie Smith, Katrina Smith, Chris Stroud, Kate Sweet, Orsi Szentkiralyi, Caroline Tanner, Simon Taylor, Debbie Templeton, Jon Therkleson, Sue Tolson, Leo Tsang, Mehmet Emin Turkat, Marek Urbanski, Pip Vanham, Elizabeth Watkins, Kate Webber, Jonathan Wright, Laura Young
To be a judge you have to be an experienced taster as well as a good team player. Judges are nominated by the co-chairmen; associate judges can be promoted to judges on the basis of their performance.
Julie Albin, Atsuko Aoyama, Ivo Assanelli, Helena Baker, André Barbosa, Luiz Batistello, Emma Baumann, Giulia Benini, Iker Berasaluce, Suzanne Boswell, Vito Bowen, Richie Brady, Natasha Bresliska, Fran Bridgewater, Matt Brown, Samuele Calistri, Maximilian Cardoso, Denman Chun ManChan, Eugenio Ciccarelli, Anne Cox, Alison Curwood Gore, James Dainty, Sergide Lamo, Mustafa Kaan Dogan, Clive Donaldson, Enrico Donati, Lorenzo Dongarrà, Domenico Doronzo, Janina Doyle, Heidi Duminy, Christopher Eliott Lockhart, Victor Hugo Elso, Sarah Everden, Patrizia Fizzotti, Rebecca Fraser, Billy Fung, Andrew Gadd, Linda Galloway, Frederic Gardelle, Emanuela Gianfreda, Dia Grigoriou, Chris Groenewald, Pawel Gruntowski, Yumiko Hara, Stephanie Hennion, Will Hill, Katia Iontcheva, John Jaswilowicz, Jaewon Jeong, Lona Jones, Zdenek Karafiat, Cihan Keskin, Richard Kilian, Wyman Kok, Minobu Kondo, Katerina Kostovska, Samuel Kozlowski, Richard Lane, Kent Leung, Pedro Lopes, Maria Lopez Repiso, Hazel Macrae, Nimmi Malhotra, Tiago Marques, Alexandra Mawson, Gustavo Medina, Cristina Mercuri, Jack Merrylees, Luma Monteiro, Cristiano Morini, Jeremy Mount, Daniela Mura, Anna Nonciaux, João Miguel Oliveira, Sean Ou, Beatriz Pascual, Diana Pavelescu, David Peacock, Debbie Peel, Monica Perseval-Blanco, Emanuel Pesqueira, Ozbej Peterle, Christian Peters, Victoria Provan, Sovna Puri, João Ramos, Patricia Riber, Miguel Rodríguez, Marien Rodriguez Lopez de la Calle, Rui Santil, Andrea Schmidt, Carolina Seibel, Chantal Serrano, Harshal Shah, Zhuyun Sun, Laurie Swan, AubreyTerrazas, Henry Thorogood, Jonathan Tiffany, Yin Chi, Bowie Tsang, Toshio Ueno, Lizzie Walker, Nicky Walter, Brenda Webber, Dan Whine, Tina Xie, Akihiko Yamamoto, Vasylysa Yilmaz, Kateryna Yushchenko, Lian Zhang
Sake 2023 Judges
Marie Cheong-Thong, Emma Dalton, Anna Lee Iijima, Hiromi Iuchi, Carlin Kumada, Ryosuke Mashio, Yukino Ochiai, Gautier Roussille, Monica Samuels, Toshio Ueno, Yoshiko Ueno-Muller
Adam Bekhor, Micky Chan, Elliot Faber, Adrian Goh, Erika Haigh, Leigh Hudson, Candy Hung, Haruhiko Inui, Sarasa Kitabayashi, Seiji Kitagawa, Sachiko Koyama, Benny Lee, Thomas, Ling Dagmar Maas, Marco Massarotto, Melissa Mills, Masakazu Minatomoto, Tetsusaburo Mogi,
Masamitsu Nakano, Hiroko Nishitani, Raku Oda, Lindsay Oram, Michael Ou, Sean Ou, Neeta Patel, Israel Serralvo-Caballero, Sarah Stewart, Henry Thorogood, Tom Wilson, Akemi Yokoyama
Kayoko Abe, Janina Bueltmann, Yumiko Hara, Takayuki Kazuo, Kazuo Masaki, Daisuke Shibuya