The judging team
The IWC China has a staged level of experienced judges. The majority of these judges have been with us for many years and have moved up the scale. We not only judge wines but we judge judges too! We expect our Panel Chairman to report on each judge on their panels and also the judges to report on how the panel chairman leads the panel. We take action based on these recommendations, either promoting, demoting or de-listing judges based on their performance at the IWC China. We do not confine our judges to one area, region or style.
We expect our judges to have a global knowledge of wines and styles, and to judge them accordingly. If they are not certain on a style, they have their panels and co-chairmen to back them up. At the IWCC we believe in keeping your palate fresh and the day interesting. A typical day will start off with a flight of Sparkling wines, then a flight of reds, then whites, back to reds and so on. Then the day will finish with Sweets, stickies and ports. Then you can have a beer!
Tasting panels are usually made up of a Panel Chairman, Senior Judge, 2 Judges and an Associate judge. 5 people is the optimum number of judges to make the process quick and the discussions diverse. All communication is in English and we separate judges from the same countries so there is no country specific bias.
4 Co-chairs are responsible for all wine related matters. The Co-chairs are there as a safety net so that not one wine gets missed. In round one they taste all wines that have been given out or commended to check the decision is correct, and if required, give them another chance in round 2. In round 2 they re-taste everything for consistency. A Panel chair may see 2 flights of Chenin Blanc. The Co-chairs will see 20! The Co-chairs mostly agree with the Panel Chairs but if they think a decision by the panels is 'harsh' or 'over awarded' they can adjust the score up or down. But importantly they need to get another Co-chairman to agree and sign to say they agree before any change is made. Arguments are not uncommon. But this means the IWC China's judging is fair and consistent and every wine has a chance.
Yang LU MS
Kenichi Ohashi MW
Kenichi (Ken) Ohashi MW is a leading Japanese wine and Sake distributor in Tokyo with accolades from the industry. Awarded Best Wine Merchant 1999 by Japan Sommelier Association he has shown his intricate knowledge of the subject both at home and abroad. He is author of "Natural Wine" and is the online wine columnist of Japan's top wine publication 'Wine Report'. He holds a Diploma from WSET in London and He is a Master of Wine and was also awarded the Personality of the Year 2016 by the IWC. He has also been certified as a Master of Sake (SSI) and Sake Expert Assessor (NRIB). In addition, he has started exporting his selection of Sake and Japanese wines to the world market.
Iain Riggs AM
Australian Iain Riggs is a veteran of 47 vintages, including 36 with Brokenwood Wines, of which he is managing director, chief winemaker and part owner. Iain has had a wide and varied career in winemaking, judging, mentoring, educating, and as a thought pioneer in Australian wine.
He is widely recognised as one of the exceptional people of the Australian wine industry. His many achievements and accolades were crowned with an Order of Australia (AM) in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The recognition is for his significant service to oenology as a winemaker, to the development of the Australian wine industry, and to the promotion of the Hunter Valley region.
Other career highlights include being an inaugural board member of the Winemakers Federation of Australia and chairman of the Hunter Valley Wine Show, having taken over from Len Evans in 2002.
Iain was also chairman of the IWCC’s predecessor, the Shanghai International Wine Challenge, for eight years.
Iain’s current roles include chairman of trustees of the Len Evans Foundation that conducts the prestigious week-long Len Evans Tutorial.
Fongyee Walker MW
Fongyee Walker MW (Master of Wine) is the co-founder, with Edward Ragg, of Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting, Beijing’s first and fully independent wine consulting and education service (est. 2007). She is mainland China’s most qualified wine educator having passed her Master of Wine (MW) examinations on top of years of experience as a teacher in a variety of areas. She is a leading Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Certified Educator teaching all over China; including the WSET’s flagship qualification, the Level 4 Diploma in Wines & Spirits. She is now a specialist wine educator and consultant (in English and Mandarin). Under her direction Dragon Phoenix has become mainland China’s most successful WSET provider by results – with classrooms in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Shenyang and Qingdao – and is the only provider teaching the full WSET Level 4 Diploma. Fongyee is now a specialist wine educator and consultant and has had a wide and varied career in educating, judging, winemaking in China.
Oz is one of the world's most recognisable wine experts. He’s a regular on television, appearing on BBC Two’s ‘Food and Drink’, as well as with James May on ‘Oz and James Drink to...’, and he currently has a weekly gig with celebrity chef James Martin.
Oz is one of the world's most recognisable wine experts. He’s a regular on television, appearing on BBC Two’s ‘Food and Drink’, as well as with James May on ‘Oz and James Drink to...’, and he currently has a weekly gig with celebrity chef James Martin. Oz is also a prolific author and has written “more books than I can remember” – including New Classic Wines, Bordeaux, The Wine Atlas, Grapes and Wines, The History of Wines in 100 Bottles, Wine by the Glass, and Red and White. Obviously, he also tastes and judges wine, most importantly as a co-chair of IWC (after starting as a judge in the very first IWC). When he has time, he performs concerts of Baroque music and wine with the Armonico Consort.
IWC China 2020 Judges
Judging is collegiate, which means at any one time a number of experienced experts are tasting and discussing the wines. At the helm of the judges are three Chairmen, each of them leaders in their field. Between them, they taste every single medal-winning wine, ensuring that only the best succeed. The majority of judges will be from China or based in Asia and familiar with the local palate. They will be supported by some of the most knowledgeable and trusted international IWC judges, including Jennifer Docherty MW, Dr Jamie Goode, Julien Boulard MW, Edward Ragg MW, James Dai and world-famous wine writer Oz Clarke.
Dr Jamie Goode - Panel Chair
Jamie obtained a PhD in plant biology and worked as a science editor before deciding that his passions lay with wine. He authors www.wineanorak.com, is the weekly columnist for the Sunday Express and writes for several magazines. In 2006 he won a Glenfiddich award for his first book, Wine science (Mitchell Beazeley), and in 2007 he won a second Glenfiddich award, this time as Wine Writer of the Year. Jamie is currently working on a book titled Natural wine, with Sam Harrop MW.
Jennifer Docherty MW - Panel Chair
Jennifer, the first ethnically Chinese and Mandarin speaking Master of Wine splits her time between Hong Kong and Shanghai heading up top importer distributor Summergate’s portfolio and leading their brand management (and educators) team. She brings to Asia 12 years of UK wine business experience in sales, fine wine and buying. For over six years, she used her acute palate, which enabled her to pass her Masters of Wine practical tasting exam on the first attempt, to select wines for venerated importer, Liberty Wines' award-winning portfolio as their wine and sake buyer. Jennifer also judges IWC sake competition and has her Master of Sake (SSI).
Edward Ragg MW - Panel Chair
Edward is a wine educator based in Beijing but with classrooms across China. He is also an experienced international judge, writer, academic and co-founder, with Fongyee Walker MW, of Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting (est. 2007). He has passed the Master of Wine theory and tasting examinations and is currently working on his MW research paper. With Fongyee, he is the other official tutor of the WSET Level 4 Diploma in mainland China. Dragon Phoenix won the 2016 WSET Educator of the Year Award and is a leading education provider, both of WSET and its own courses. Edward is an experienced international judge and has judged at the IWC in London, as well as competitions in China and Australia.
James Dai - Panel Chair
James is the founder of the wine community website www.gourmet114.com. He is a respected wine educator and served as a judge at the Shanghai International Wine Challenge, as well as other domestic and foreign wine competitions. In his early years, he toured many wine regions around the world and has an in-depth understanding of winemaking and brewing techniques.
As a wine educator, Sam Chen delivers WSET and other wine-related courses all over China. He is also the translator of ‘The Concise Guide To Wine And Blind Tasting’, an expert blind-taster and a respected international judge.
Leon is the founder of the Shanghai Sannianjian Wine Club and the chief operating officer of Grapea Institute. He is a champion blind-taster, a tutor at ONAV CHINA, and translated the Concise Guide To Wine And Blind Tasting.
Tokyo-based Motohiro Okoshi is a wine and Sake consultant for several leading restaurant groups in Japan, as well as for a wine importer, a wholesaler and Japan Airlines. Motohiro, a trained sommelier, is also a senior wine and Sake judge at the International Wine Challenge in London and the author of ‘Wine note’, ‘Aromas of Wine’ and ‘Pairing with Japanese food’.
Dr Ruyi Li
Dr Ruyi is a lecturer in wine at the Ningxia University in China. She has a PhD in wine science and business from the University of Adelaide, where she is now an honorary associate. She was an associate judge at the International Wine Challenge in London in 2018.
Christian Zhang is chief sommelier at Noah’s Yacht Club on the Bund, Shanghai. He has been working in the hotel F&B industry for ten years, and helped launch several top hotel brands in China, including the Amanfayun Luxury Boutique Resort and JW Marriott in Hangzhou, and the Park Hyatt in Ningbo. Christian has a WSET diploma.
As executive director of beverage operations at Wynn Palace and Wynn Macau, Paco Galdeano oversees the property-wide wine and sake programme, working closely with the head sommeliers. Originally from Spain, Paco brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, having worked in the industry for more than 15 years, across eight countries. Prior to joining Wynn Palace, Paco was group beverage director at Roberto’s Restaurant & Lounge in Dubai. His career also includes sommelier and head sommelier positions at prestigious hotels in Singapore, Dubai, and London. He is currently also one of the judges for the International Wine Challenge in UK and Japan.
Shanghai-based Michelle has been working in the wine industry for eight years and has a WSET diploma. Currently she is a Wine and Spirits Institute wine trainer at Grapea & Co.
Chang Liu of Beijing-based Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting is a senior wine educator and has been teaching WSET courses in China for four years. Previously, Chang was a buyer at Pinshang Wine in Shenzhen and before that he was an assistant winemaker in McLaren Vale, Australia. He has masters’ degrees in wine business and oenology from the University of Adelaide, Australia, and a degree in agriculture from Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou.
Deng is a highly respected international judge, a freelance wine writer and columnist, and a winemaking consultant for Chateau Lansai, Estate of Rongyuanmei, Domaine Charme, Malan Flower Vineyard, and Chateau Yunling. He studied in Burgundy and has worked at Chateau Lascombes, Domaine des Lambrays, and Domaine de Vincent Girardin. Deng is also co-founder of Ningxia Wine Art Land.
Shao, a member of the Chinese wine experts committee, has a degree in food science and trained in winemaking and viticulture in Australia. He has worked as a winemaker at Chateau Junding, Greatwall (Yantai), and Qingdao Huadong. Shao is also an experienced international judge.
Desheng is the award-winning chief winemaker at Domaine Franco-Chinois and the Canaan Wine Estate in Huailai, China. He has Master’s Degree in Viti-vini Science from the China Agriculture University in Beijing and a Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture from the Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology.
David Liu is a wine training lecturer at Wine Academy of JD University and the founder of www.winespice.com. He has a degree in oenology from Northwest A&F University of China and a WSET diploma, he is the Nominated educator and accessor of Wine and Spirits Education Trust. He hold many leading wine regions’ official wine educator certificates, like New Zealand, Argentina, Napa Valley, Jerez and South France. In 2019, David is awarded as the Best German Wine Educator in China by the German Wine Institute.
Zhang Jing is state-level wine taster and appraisal judge of wine in China. She graduated from the School of Agriculture, Ningxia University, and has been working as a winemaker in Ningxia Helan Qingxue Vineyard since 2005, after gaining experience in France, USA and Australia. Jiabeilan wines made by her team got very good reputation in the world. Jing was announced as Excellent Chinese Winemaker in 2017 by CFWC (China Fine Wine Challenge), in fact she has been honored with this title since 2007.
Wine Educator of Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting. Yonan has obtained WSET Diploma with DPWC. As a WSET certified Educator, Official Educator of Wines of Hungary, New Zealand Wine Professional LV2 Educator and Certified Educator of Wines of Chile; Yonan excels at teaching multilingually in Mandarin, English and Cantonese due to her overseas study experience in the UK for many years. Yonan is active in Wine, Art & Design fields as well as charity work.
Echo is a WSET Diploma candidate and was an associate judge at the International Wine Challenge in London in 2018. A former airline crew member, she is also a former member of Singapore Airlines’ WAG tasting group and an airline wine trainer.
Bruce is the head sommelier at Shangri-la's China World Summit Wing in Beijing. That means he is the custodian of a cellar which holds more than 715 labels and stocks more than 9,600 bottles – one of the most diverse ranges of wines in Beijing. A sommelier certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, Bruce is also armed with WSET Level 3 and nine years’ experience. Now, Bruce is leading a team of talented young sommeliers who are about to develop more professionally through his training.
Tai Kang who found LITS Wine & Spirit Education and Training is a well-known wine educator. He has a WSET diploma qualification and a Master Cigar Sommelier certificate of International Association of Cigar Sommeliers. Besides educating he also works as a consultant for some wine enterprises. Tai Kang was a judge at the International Wine Challenge 2018 in London and IWC China 2019 in Shanghai.
Arneis Wu is the head sommelier at Joel Robuchon China Group and responsible for all the restaurants' beverages, including at the two-star Michelin L'atelier de Joel Robuchon. Arneis graduated from Shandong Agriculture University, where he studied vine and wine engineering. He is the 2017 China Sommelier Competition champion, and is currently preparing for the Master Sommelier exam, having already passed at advanced level. In 2018 he picked up two awards at the China Wine List Awards – for Best Wine List and being the Best Sommelier in Mainland China.
James is the Head Sommelier at The Middle House Hotel Shanghai. He looks after the wine programme of its three restaurants, located in this modern boutique hotel right in the middle of the city. James started his Sommelier career in London with Hakkasan Group while he was pursuing his master degree in Landscape Urbanism. He relocated to Shanghai to open Hakkasan Shanghai where he has built a respected and successful wine programme there. He is a frequent traveller to vineyards and wineries around the world, from England to New Zealand, in between and beyond. James is a multi-award winners as a Sommelier as well as for his wine list which included China’s Wine List of the Year Award ‘2016 Best Wine List for Mainland China’. He has judged at various wine competitions internationally as well as locally. He is also a wine and sake educator.
Within the curiosity of wine, Fei Fei started her discovery of wine in Bordeaux, educated in CAFA Formation (Sommelier school). As one of the very few female sommeliers in China, Fei Fei used to be the Head Sommelier of two Swire Hotels (The Temple House in Chengdu &The Middle House in Shanghai). Guided her sommelier team to win the champion of the 7th China Young Sommelier Competition. Her passion in wine makes her keep learning and exploring the wine regions. She just made the 2nd place of the 11th China National Sommelier Competition 2019; and the Bronze Medal of the 1st China’s Best Sommelier Competition of German Wine. Fei Fei continued her sommelier path in Pudao wines as Head Sommelier and Operation Manager, expanding her charms in wines to guests in this Wine shop &Wine bar in the cultural district of Ferguson Lane.