2023 Director’s Message

I think its fair to say that 2023 has been […]

I think its fair to say that 2023 has been another tricky yet hugely successful year for the Global Fine Wine Challenge. This year marked the 20th edition, founded in 2003. I’ve been in and around this unique event since 2008 when it was the Tri-Nations Wine Challenge with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as the participating nations. Whilst the premise behind the challenge remains unchanged, its incredible to see the evolution in the last 5 years specifically with the technology that we use. Our bespoke software, Drinkme Digital, has evolved to a point where the depth of insights available to our judges at discussion time ensures that every wine is given its opportunity to shine. Nothing is overlooked! Unanimous industry feedback is that this is world-class software. We haven’t even scratched the surface with Drinkme Digital, so watch this space!

We farewelled Bob Campbell MW who served as New Zealand’s representative judge since inception in 2003 and always brought the best kiwi wines to the challenge. Thank you Bob for your incredible contribution and dedication over the years. You will be sorely missed.

We welcomed Jane Skilton MW & Anthony Mueller to the team this year. Jane has taken over from Bob Campbell MW as New Zealands representative judge, and really upped the ante in her first outing with another sizzling performance for New Zealand. Anthony Mueller shared American nomination duties with Virginie Boone and joined us for judging. It was a tough year for American entries this year due to many domestic factors, but we’re confident of a strong return in 2024.

If timing had been different, we would have had Michael Fridjhon (South Africa) and Christopher Waters (Canada) join us, but alas the scheduling close to Christmas made this difficult. Huon Hooke (Australia) returned to judge for the first time since Covid together with independent judge Toni Paterson MW.

Our stewarding team had a face lift this year. Once again lead by Alistair Dunn with guest appearances by Andrew Tran, we welcomed Beatrice Checkley, Tanya Blair, Vanessa Simpson and Sam Roediger to the team. It was once again seamless – prompt, accurate and professional… and a lot of fun!

A special word of thanks to the Embassies, High Commissions, and Consulates who are to be congratulated for the support they continue to give their winemakers involved in the Challenge.

To my amazing team who support and share my vision, thank you! In particular Ash Reynolds (Drinkme Digital), Tarryn Vincent (Reciprocal Wine Co), Motti Lewis (Cape Town), Marty Clubb (L’Ecole Winery Washington State USA), Anita Cole (Vancover), Rolf de Bruin (Fort Berens Winery Canada), John Pidler & Michael McLaren (Wine-Ark) & Deep Gujral (Manjit’s Group Sydney).

Congratulations to all participants in the 2023 Challenge. Just being selected to participate is an accolade in its own right. Well done to all the Trophy Winners, Double Gold and Gold medalists. I hope to see you all again in 2024. To you the reader, I encourage you, wherever in the world you are, to seek out these wines and enjoy them with family and friends. Cheers, Ross Anderson!

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