Dirceu Vianna Jr ('Junior') is originally from Brazil, where he studied Forest Engineering and Law before moving to the UK in 1989. With almost three decades of experience in the wine industry, he now consults for several businesses in different parts of the world.
He is also a judge at selected wine competitions, a wine educator, and author. Junior, the first Brazilian Master of Wine, lives in London with his wife Adriana and daughter Sophia.
What wine regions are you most interested in at the moment?
Chile and the exploration of new terroir in the far south of the country is pretty cool. Cabernet Franc from Argentina is another interesting trend. People also speak at length about natural wine and there is a buzz around Georgian wines. However, I am yet to be convinced by any of these trends. Personally, I am enjoying the diversity, quality and value for money that Portugal has to offer.
What are you looking for when judging wines?
First and foremost, I look for harmony. When the wine is well-structured and balanced, it has the basic qualities to be a good wine. In addition, intensity of fruit on the nose and concentration of fruit on the palate, combined with complexity and persistency, are important features.
A gold medal wine must show its personality by demonstrating a sense of place as well as varietal expression. It must stand out from its peers. I ultimately ask myself: ‘would I like to take this wine to my friends, and would I be proud to share it?’. If the answer is yes, it deserves a gold.
What’s been your most memorable experience in the wine industry (so far)?
After almost three decades in the industry, there are too many memorable experiences to count. We are extremely lucky to work in an industry full of great characters and generous people. I have had lunches with rustic wines and simple food in the middle of vineyards that were very memorable, and a formal event in a great chateau with a horizontal tasting of all 1st Growths from 1982 – that was an unforgettable experience. Great company is the key ingredient to making an experience memorable.
What are you most excited about judging at the IWSC?
I am particularly excited since this is the first time I will be working at the IWSC. I am really looking forward to the interaction, learning opportunities, and sharing knowledge with all the judges.