The IWSC recently announced Jane Anson as the 2023 winner of its coveted Wine Communicator Trophy, which is sponsored by Vinitaly.
Sadly while she was unable to make it to our Awards Dinner at the Roundhouse, we caught up with her to discover what kept her away and what else has been keeping her busy.
One of the many reasons our judges selected you as this year’s trophy winner, was the work you’re doing as a mentor. Sadly this impeded you getting to our Awards Dinner, but can you tell us a bit more about the Bordeaux mentor week of which you are a co-founder, and the people you mentor.
The Bordeaux Mentor Week is a not-for-profit week that I founded with Chinedu Rita Rosa. It came about when I launched my site last October and wanted to find a different way to talk about wine and to offer something more to subscribers than online content (even though I try to make that great!!).
All subscribers can either apply or nominate someone they feel would benefit from this week, and in year one we had 103 applicants from 28 countries. There were no fees for the attendees to pay, for either accommodation or travel around the region, instead we worked with sponsors to cover travel, transport and accommodation.
The first edition took place at the end of September 2022, with a five-day programme in Bordeaux to open up knowledge and access, and increase diversity and inclusivity in the wine world. This is not aimed at people looking to work in Bordeaux necessarily, but in using the insights gained here in their future careers within the wine or hospitality industry. It was an amazing week, with our scholars coming from all over the world - Fernando from Puerto Rico (just days after the hurricane took out electricity and water across much of the island), Audrey from London, Isabelle from Switzerland, Shane and Zintle from South Africa, Tanmay from India (in fact working in France at the time but back in India now) and Tracy from Nigeria.
They were incredible, all of them, so motivated and brilliant, and made the most of a week where we had them doing different things every day, from harvesting and sorting grapes, to meeting start-ups in wine, to experiencing organic and biodynamic farming, to blending and tasting older vintages, finishing up with personal mentoring sessions on the last day. We'll be holding another one in September 2023, opening applications in March 2023.
You can read a full description of the week here.
You have been writing about Bordeaux for over 20 years, what have been some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the region over this period.
Probably the most significant has been the shift towards more environmentally conscious farming, from organics and biodynamics to biodiversity programmes, and just a general understanding that these extremely high profile, luxury wine estates have to be thought leaders in an industry that is facing increasing challenges from the climate crisis.
There have of course been style shifts also, and market evolutions such as the arrival of China as a significant destination for Bordeaux wines, continuing the long history of this being a place that reflects wider global socio-economic trends. And the city itself has turned into a much nicer place to live, with a ton of great restaurants and wine bars!
Your website is launched, your amazing tome, “Inside Bordeaux” is published, and the Bordeaux Mentor Week has had its first year, what is next?
This has been an incredible year, and I hope to spend the next 12 months just making sure that all the initiatives I started, including the Mentor Week, the Connoisseur Week and the work I'm doing with 1% for the Planet, are able to become long-term parts of the business. I also plan to keep things interesting - over the last year I did crazy things like an NFT ebook and a Bordeaux advent calendar, and hopefully I can keep doing these kinds of fun things alongside covering the staples of chateau verticals, appellation deep dives, En Primeur, in Bottle, and the icon non-Bordeaux wines. I am also looking at how to ensure my site subscribers get better access to information from the Inside Bordeaux book, so watch this space on that. I couldn't be more grateful that people supported the launch this year and hope above all to keep subscribers (to the free newsletter or the site) engaged and happy!
Jane Anson was awarded the IWSC’s 2023 Wine Communicator Trophy. She has lived in Bordeaux since 2003 and is widely recognised as the world’s leading authority on the wines of Bordeaux.