Once again this year’s judging panel will be entirely comprised of independent wine merchants, and overseen by David Williams. Here are some of this year’s judges – we’ll be announcing more very soon.
Julia Jenkins, Flagship Wines, St Albans
Julia has stepped in as a senior judge this year and is well equipped for the task, having been part of the Top 100 panel on more than one occasion. Prior to starting her own company in 2004, Julia was a buyer for various businesses and marketing manager for Sainsbury’s wine department.
Ted Sandbach, The Oxford Wine Company
Another veteran of our judging panel, Ted runs one of the most famous and successful independent wine merchants in the UK, which is a major regional wholesaler as well as a specialist retailer.
Lucy Chenoweth, The Old Garage, Truro
Lucy’s wine shop and delicatessen caters for the Truro tourists and locals alike, with a wide range of goodies, including “loads of crazy Italian wines that people just go nuts for”. The Old Garage focuses on showcasing not just the best of Cornwall, but the best of the world with an emphasis on producers with great stories and ethics.
Andrew Taylor, Taylor’s Fine Wines, Kingston upon Thames
Andrew began his wine retail career in the early 90s, and gained WSET Diploma while working with Wine Rack. He started his independent wine merchant business in 2005 and has built a strong local client base, offering regular customer tastings and a carefully selected range of wines from quality producers, as well as locally sourced craft ales and spirits.
Polly Gibson, GrapeSmith, Hungerford
Polly’s wine journey began after a 15-year career in horticulture. She is now a WSET educator and runs the GrapeSmith Wine Academy from the Berkshire independent where she works alongside the owner, Barnaby Smith. Polly particularly enjoys “seeking out lesser-known wines of the Spanish islands”.
Eugenio Ciccarelli, Vinarius, London
Eugenio, a qualified oenologist, has a background in winemaking and he says he has “worked in every role in the wine business since moving to the UK 16 years ago”. He is the owner of this wine merchant/enoteca and outside of wine he is passionate about Juventus FC and Inspector Montalbano books.
Kasia Konys-Pieszko, Dunnell’s, Jersey
With over 15 years of wine experience in the wine trade, Kasia is the wine buyer for Dunell’s Wines in Jersey, which has been recognised as IWC Small Independent Wine Retailer of 2019 and as Drinks Retailing Independent Wine Retailer of the Year 2020. She completed her WSET Diploma last year and was awarded a study trip to Chile for high marks.
Riaz Syed, Stone Wines, Barnet
Riaz founded Stone Wines in 2015. The business has grown to be part of the community; a hybrid wine-shop-coffee-bar, the range of services has grown to include a summer pop up kitchen, tutored wine events and further partnerships within the UK craft beer movement to aid the next phase of business growth.
Dan Kirby, The Suffolk Cellar, Wrentham
Dan is an accomplished buyer, having previously headed up the wine buying at regional brewer Adnams. He currently splits his time between fine wine investment specialists Corkr Fine Wines, Fine Wine Auctioneer, Taversham’s and running the fine wine focused independent, The Suffolk Cellar.
Simon Parkinson, Vinological, Chester
A WSET educator, Simon has now been in the wine business for 10 years and over this time, he has discovered his passion for the wines of eastern Europe, as well as developing an enthusiasm for natural wines. He is an keen advocate for independents and loves that his shop is part of the “Chester Market family” – a community of indies in the heart of the city.