Key Competition Personnel
The key to The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC) might well be its three specialist judges, but it takes more than three people to run a global wine competition.
We have a fourth judge, George MARKUS, a Champagne and sparkling wine expert from Hungary who shadows us, but as our permanent associate judge he does not contribute to the scoring. Associate judging is very much part of the Australian agricultural show regime. George’s role is, however, slightly different, as he is a permanent fixture, not one of several associates on a rota. Already one of the world’s best Champagne tasters by the time our first competition was launched in 2014, he is now privy to tasting the best sparkling wines in the world at the CSWWC every year, so is perfectly qualified to step in if Essi, Tony or Tom fall ill.
Our Competition Steward is Simon STOCKTON, an Australian living in the UK who specialises in all things effervescent. Simon completed a ‘Mastering Champagne’ Diploma at the University of Reims/Avize Viticampus and became official UK Champagne Ambassador in 2016. He is an avid tweeter and blogger under his pseudonym @SugarandYeast and fulfils several freelance champagne roles including training, masterclasses and brand ambassador work. Simon is the lynchpin of the Competition during the judging process, co-ordinating between the judges, SWS and Orsi Szentkiralyi. This crucial role requires tact and diplomacy, an extensive knowledge and understanding of all styles of Champagne and sparkling wine and a strong sense of fairness – something which Simon has in abundance.
Orsi SZENTKIRALYI, is our Tasting Quality Control Director. Also from Hungary, Orsi has worked extensively in the trade as a sommelier and in various other roles. This year she is studying at Plumpton College in Sussex. As the Tasting Quality Control Director Orsi shadows the judges one flight behind, opening up at least one bottle of every Bronze, Commended and No Award wines, plus all Silver-graded Deluxe Champagnes to identify bottle variation. New samples of any suspect wines will be fed back into the blind tasting schedule to ensure that they are re-evaluated.
If there is one person without whom this competition would not exist, that is Karl FRANZ, director of Sensible Wine Services (SWS) who heads up our judging logistics. He and his team unpack, number and log every wine that arrives at their depot, sorting them into flights before transporting them to the judging venue where he chills, pours and serves the wines in numbered glasses. Why are SWS and Karl so good at what they do? Because they have more experience than anyone else on earth, providing logistical support for Decanter’s World Wine Awards, the International Wine Challenge and the International Wine and Spirit Competition, to name just a few of their very largest clients. They also perform a similar logistics role for a whole raft of major trade tastings.
Bryony WRIGHT is a co-director of the CSWWC and responsible for overall logistics for the competition. Having founded and run a PR company for 12 years which specialised particularly in Champagne and sparkling wine she is perfectly placed to oversee the CSWWC. Bryony also works now as a post-graduate qualified executive coach, with senior business leaders and management teams across the drinks sector and beyond. When it comes to the CSWWC, Bryony is responsible for booking the judging venue, looking after the judges, negotiating with all suppliers and managing the website. She also makes sure that everyone retains their sense of humour!
Rachel DAVEY is also a co-director of the CSWWC with Tom and Bryony. With 10 years’ wine PR and events experience, Rachel is perfectly placed to manage the PR and marketing for the Championships and to organise and manage the annual Awards Dinner. Her passion for all things effervescent, combined with an incredible attention to detail and superb event management skills make her a bubbly and invaluable member of the team.
Eva CALLAGHAN is the third Hungarian member of the team and the power house in terms of administration. Eva deals with all the day to day enquiries from entrants and other interested parties, logs all the entries, organises invoices and receipts, pays all the bills, sorts out the books and keeps us on the right side of the law when dealing with HMRC! Needless to say, we’d be lost without her.