The International Wine Challenge (IWC) brings together many of the most important people in the wine world.
Introducing the Co-Chairs
Six Co-Chairs, each of them leaders in their field, have been at the helm for this year's IWC. Between them, they taste every single medal-winning wine, ensuring that only the best succeed. They are: Tim Atkin MW, Sam Caporn MW, Oz Clarke, Dr. Jamie Goode, Peter McCombie MW and Helen McGinn
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brett is a graduate of Australia’s Roseworthy College and has been judging in international wine competitions around the globe for more than 30 years. Brett’s experience is extensive, currently working with many of the great wine estates globally, including Domaine Guigal. He has lived and worked in Australia, Argentina, Russia, France and UK including 12 years with LVMH in their sparkling wine and Champagne operations. He spends many months a year globetrotting to advise and service his clients, and regularly contributes to radio, TV and numerous international journals.
Alison Eisermann-Ctercteko MW
Alison is a trained winemaker, viticulturist, and wine educator. Over the past 15 years she has been making wine, managing a large commercial vineyard, and judging wine throughout Australia, the US and at the IWC. For the past seven years she has worked as a wine educator at the Sydney Wine Academy delivering primarily the WSET courses at all levels. Alison became a Master of Wine in 2013.
Jim comes from a family that is rich in wine making history, his grandfather, father and brother were all winemakers, and his other brother has been involved in the wine trade in France for the last 25 years. Having been involved in wine judging for over twenty years Jim has been part of the judging teams of every major New Zealand Show. Internationally Jim is a regular judge in the United States, London, Japan and China. Jim currently holds the position of Senior Judge with New Zealand Winegrowers, Chairman of Judges for the New World Wine Competition and is a Wine Consultant for Air New Zealand.
Natasha Hughes MW
Natasha Hughes graduated as a Master of Wine in 2014, winning four out of the seven prizes awarded that year, including the Outstanding Achievement Award.
Natasha is a freelance journalist, specialising in wine and food, and has written for numerous publications in both print and online. She consults for restaurants, private clients and wine producers, judges at several international competitions and hosts wine events, seminars and tutored tastings for private clients and members of the wine trade.
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 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
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.
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.
Sheri Sauter Morano MW
Sheri is a Master of Wine, wine educator and wine writer. She also works as a marketing research consultant. She has been featured in numerous magazines and online publications and has appeared on television and radio shows around the United States as well as in France and Argentina. She has extensive experience as a wine judge and has judged at competitions in the US, the UK and Argentina. Sheri resides in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
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 leading UK wine merchant The Wine Society as Tastings and Events Manager, developing an annual programme of 140 wine events in the UK and France while nurturing close relationships with some of the world’s most renowned wine producers. He is currently The Society’s Public Relations Manager.
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.
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.
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.
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
Melinda Joe is a journalist and food writer. Originally from the United States, she is
based in Tokyo, Japan. She writes about drinks in her column for The Japan Times
and is the Tokyo correspondent for Gourmet Sweden. Her work covering gastronomy
around the world has taken her from the Andean salt flats of Chile to the cliffs of the
Faroe Islands. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Newsweek, The Wall
Street Journal, CNN, and Departures Magazine and has been translated into four
languages. A certified sake and wine specialist, she has judged sake at London’s
International Wine Challenge since 2012.
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.
Yuji is a Shochu specialist and was the first certified Master Sake Sommelier in the US. Yuji was the president of the California Sushi Academy from 1998 until 2002 and the President of the Sake Institute of America and Beverage manager of Kabuki Restaurants, Inc. in 2011. He has conducted more than 300 sake seminars for the general public, restaurants and wine cellars and has regular columns in Japanese Restaurant News and Sushi and Sake Magazine. Yuji was awarded a Sake Samurai in 2010 by the Japan National Sake Brewery Association Junior Council.
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.
Dr. Sudo was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1954. He worked for 22 years in the technical division of National Tax Agency, and worked at National Research Institute of Brewing for 12 years. He has rich technical knowledge on brewing science and tasting of sake. Moreover, he is familiar with how to drink deliciously sake and also the compatibility with the food and sake. These valuable technical knowledge has been appreciated, now he appointed to technical adviser of Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association. He is invited as a judge in many sake contests.
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.
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.
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.
Mimi Avery, David Baldwin, Will Bartholomew, Andy Brown, Neil Bruce, Laura Clay, David Cox, Emma Dalton, Sergio de Luca, Nick Dumergue, Simon Field MW, Tom Forrest, Vivienne Franks, Rosemary George MW, Abi Hirshfeld, Elizabeth Kelly MW, Robin Langton, Kate McFruin, Anthony Mitchell, Nick Oakley, Will Parker, Laure Patry, David Round MW, Xenia Ruscombe-King MW, Victoria Sharples, Siobhan Turner, Luke Webster.
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.
Nicolas Angelina, George Biswas, Marie Cheong-Thong, Rebecca Coates, Martin Day, Anne de Bérard, Geoffrey Dean, Alan Derr, Alison Dillon, Charlie Foley, Pippa Hayward, Lauren Hodgkins, Dirk Kind, Jacob Leadley, Andre Luis Martins, Victoria Mason, Nelio Pinto, Christopher Racey, Noel Reid, Jenny Nicole Smith, Jamie Smith, Masahito Suzuki, Orsi Szentkiralyi, Jon Therkleson, Sue Tolson, Zsuzsa Toronyi, Elizabeth Watkins, Will Willis, Jonathan Wright.
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.
Hannah Aldgate, Deniz Bayram, Roger Conen, Celia Develey, Linda Galloway, Zigmars Grinbergs, Zareh Mesrobyan, Matthew Scowen, Elena Terekhova, Pauline Vicard.
Sake 2021 Judges
Antony Moss MW, Christine Parkinson, Asami Tasaka
Marie Cheong-Thong, Peter McCombie MW, Natsuki Kikuya, Ryosuke Mashio, Satomi Dosseur Okubo, Laure Patry, Emma Dalton, Rie Yoshitake, Miho Welpe-Komatsu, Oliver Hilton-Smith
Harriet Furze, Masafumi Futatsugi, Erika Haigh, Hiroyuki Ito, Tetsusaburo Mogi, Hiroko Nishitani, Takayuki Ono, Lindsay Oram, Neeta Patel, Israel Serralvo - Caballero, Sarah Stewart, Henry Thorogood, Tom Wilson, Akemi Yokoyama.
Ashish Behera, Alex Kirillov, Masayo Nuttall, Rako Oda, Filippo Pastorini, Robin Sola.