A wine tasting course was the catalyst for my re-invention from lawyer to purveyor, raconteur and professional imbiber of wines. As they say, converts are always the worst and I love sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm about wine through tastings, wine writing, now wine tours. There is no better way to combine pleasure and learning!
I started off my wine career with multi-award winning wine merchants Oddbins in 2000, managing Oddbin’s flagship Fine Wine Store in the city between 2003 and 2005. Since striking out on my own in 2005 as an independent wine writer and educator, I have become an acknowledged authority on the wines of Portugal and Australia.
In addition to publishing www.thewinedetective.co.uk, I write for respected magazine titles such as Decanter and The World of Fine Wine and have contributed to leading reference books on my areas of expertise, including:
Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book (Portugal, Port & Madeira, since 2006),
Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson MW’s The World Atlas of Wine (6 ed. & 7th ed., Portugal & Australia)
Jancis Robinson MW’s & Julia Harding MW’s The Oxford Companion to Wine (4th ed., Portugal) – “we have benefited from the new brooms wielded with particular energy by Walter Speller, who has rewritten most of the Italian entries, Huon Hooke on Australia, Sarah Ahmed on Portugal, and David Schildknecht, who has done the same for Germany and Austria,” said Jancis.
Other book and online contributions include: 1001 Wines You Must Drink Before You Die (editions1 & 2), The Wine Opus, 1000 Great Wines, Oz Clarke Pocket Wine Book, Wine Behind the Label, Wine-Searcher and Blend, all about wine.
Broadcast experience includes appearances on BBC Radio 4 and ABC TV’s Landline.
In demand as a judge and speaker at home and abroad, I am delighted to be counted among Decanter’s “experts par excellence” in my capacity as Regional Chair, Portugal at Decanter World Wine Awards and to be one of four “UK leading wine experts” judging Oddbins’ The Palate 2014.
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- Cavaliero of Confraria do Vinho do Porto (Port brotherhood)
- One of 14 international wine opinion leaders selected for The Landmark Australia Tutorial 2010
- Short-listed for the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Wine Communicator of the Year 2010
- Portuguese Annual Wine Awards Wine Writer of the Year 2009
- Short-listed for the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Wine Communicator of the Year 2009
- Finalist, the Women of Wine Awards 2007
- The Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma (Distinction); as top graduate, awarded the Rouyer Guillet Cup (re-named the Vintners’ Cup), Geoffrey Jameson Award and Vintners’ Scholarship
- WSET Higher (Distinction); awarded the Vintners’ Bursary
- WSET Certificate
- 2016 – The Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show
- 2015 – Hunter Valley Wine Show
- 2014, 2015 – Oddbins’ “The Palate”
- 2014, 2015 – Wines of Portugal Sommelier Quest
- 2013 – 125th Rutherglen Wine Show, Australia
- 2013 – Wolf Blass Master Blend Classification
- 2013 – Wines of Portugal Challenge, Portugal
- 2012 – Concurso Nacional de Vinhos, Portugal
- 2011 onwards – Regional Chair for Portuguese table wines, Decanter World Wine Awards, London
- 2009 – Vinipax, Alentejo, Portugal
- 2009 – Qantas Wine Show of Western Australia, Mount Barker
- 2009 – Essencia do Vinho Top 10 Portuguese Wines, Porto
- 2009 – Interloire Project Sauvignon Blanc Ambassadors’ Tasting, the Loire
- 2009, 2010 – The International Wine Challenge, Senior Judge
- 2008 – Annual Chile Wine Awards, Santiago
- 2006 onwards – Decanter World Wine Awards, London, (Loire, Portugal, Chile, Australia)
- 2006 onwards – Decanter panel tastings, London
- 2006-2007 – Wine & Spirit Sommelier Challenge, London
- 2007 – Interloire Project Cabernet Franc Ambassadors’ tasting, the Loire
- 2007 – Wine & Spirit Muscadet Panel, London
- 2006 – Union des Oenologues de France Rendez-Vous de Chenin Blanc & Cabernet Franc, the Loire
- 2004 – Union des Oenologues de France Rendez-Vous de Chenin Blanc, the Loire