Alex joined the wine trade as a van driver for Oddbins while studying Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Oxford, where he captained the Varsity Blind Tasting Team.
Fresh out of university, he joined London-based wine merchant Mayfair Cellars in 2000, holding both sales and buying roles, before moving to Berkmann Wine Cellars in 2006 where he is currently purchasing director.
Alex has contributed articles to Decanter, World of Fine Wine and The Drinks Business, and is a seasoned wine judge, with experience ranging from the Decanter World Wine Awards and International Wine Challenge to South Africa's Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. Since February 2012, he has also written a regular column for jancisrobinson.com.
How many references have you got in your portfolio? Are there any countries or regions that you're looking to expand on?
Officially 1,500, but if you include parcels of fine wine and bespoke lines for certain customers, the real number is much higher! At the moment, Greece is a focus: we are looking to launch a Greek range for the first time in about 15 years. And Burgundy, always – it’s a perennial challenge to have enough great burgundy on the books.
What are you looking for when judging wines? What makes a Gold medal-winning wine?
First pleasure, then complexity, then flair, then unique, evocative beauty. A Gold medal-winning wine has all of those, without losing sight of its primary duty: to be a delicious drink.
What’s your most memorable experience in the wine industry (so far)?
It has to be stepping out onto the stage of the O2 Islington in front of a 300-strong industry crowd, as guitarist for wine-trade rock band Skin Côntact. The day I became an MW wasn’t bad either.
What are you most excited about judging at the IWSC?
I’m down to oversee Australia, so what’s not to get excited about? This is a country really at the top of its game right now, with a breath-taking variety of styles, approaches and climates. Let’s hope the entries represent the true breadth of Australian wine today.