Nine expert wine judges have arrived

Nine expert wine judges have arrived in the Margaret River Wine Region to judge Margaret River wines for the distinguished International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).

The IWSC has judged in situ programs in South Africa, Argentina, Turkey, Austria and Georgia this year. However, Margaret River is the only wine region in the world where the in situ judging will focus solely on one region’s wines rather than an entire nation’s. It will also be the first time to judge outside of Europe, Africa or South America.

Margaret River Wine Association CEO Amanda Whiteland said, “Securing this amazing opportunity is massive.  It reinforces Margaret River’s reputation as a desirable destination producing high-quality and world class wines.”

“Winning an IWSC medal holds significant prestige, and it can really boost the reputation and assist with sales of a wine.”

The visit will provide a significant opportunity for the judges to dive deep into the region and gain an appreciation of what makes it so unique.

In addition to the three days of wine judging being conducted at Clairault Streicker, the judges will stay in gorgeous beach houses at Smiths Beach Resort and participate in masterclasses, wine tastings and cultural storytelling in some of the region’s most breathtaking locations.

They will also have a chance to discover the region’s quality produce through meals prepared by local chefs including, Ben Jacob of Lagoon Yallingup, Aaron Carr of Yarri and Ben Day of Cullen Wines.

The IWSC results will be announced to the exhibitors on the final day of judging at a sundowner in the Art Gallery at Vasse Felix, and the UK trade will have the opportunity to taste the medal-winning wines at events in London at the Roundhouse on 19 October and 67 Pall Mall on 1 November.

Meet the Judges

Alistair Cooper MW is an independent British wine writer, judge, consultant and educator with over 20 years of experience in the industry. He writes for and regularly contributes to several publications, including Club Oenologique and Decanter. Alistair is also the global consultant wine buyer for the Sydney-based Australian company United Cellars, Australia's largest independent wine merchant.

Freddy Bulmer is a veteran IWSC judge and wine buyer for The Wine Society, the world's oldest wine club, where he's responsible for The Wine Society's portfolio of wines. He also contributes a monthly column to and judges in numerous wine competitions. Freddy strongly believes that wine should, first and foremost, be about having fun.

Melania Battiston traded a career in marketing for one in wine, swapping university for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and Court of Master Sommelier (MS) exams. She’s now sizing up what it takes to become an MS. After working as Head sommelier/wine buyer at Medlar, Melania is currently the Junior Food and Beverage Manager at Aman Resorts. In 2022, she won the Young Sommelier Competition and was number 3 on Harper’s Top 25 Sommeliers in the UK.

Libby Brodie is the founder of London-based independent wine consultancy Bacchus & Brodie, co-founder of The Wine Collective and City AM’s dedicated wine columnist with her regular “Wine Without The Snobbery” page. Libby is a qualified wine consultant and self-proclaimed “wine translator” with a passion for accessible, entertaining wine communication. She regularly moderates and hosts panels and events, sources and curates wines for private clients, and guest lectures at Universities on Wine Communication.

Beth Pearce MW is the Buying Director for Lay & Wheeler, one of Britain's longest-standing fine wine merchants. Before that, she spent ten years at Majestic Wine, initially managing stores in the UK’s South West, followed by five years in the buying team at Majestic Wine, sourcing wines, beers and spirits from around the world for their 200 stores. Beth became a Master of Wine in February 2020 and, in September 2021, won the 'Outstanding Young Person award at the Vintner's Company.

Chris Crawford is Group General Manager of Beverage at Crown Resorts (Melbourne, Perth and Sydney). Chris is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers (UK and USA) and a past president of Sommeliers Australia. He is also a senior judge at various regional and capital wine shows and the outgoing chair of the Yarra Valley Wine Show and James Halliday Chardonnay and Cabernet Challenge.

Randall Pollard is a Roseworthy (Wine Production & Marketing) Graduate. Since 1999, Randall has been an importer and merchant of fine wines for Melbourne-based Heart& Soil Imports and Randall’s Fine Wines. He’s judged in Australian Capital City Shows widely since 1987 and smaller regional shows since the 1990s. Randall regularly visits many European wine producers, tasting and learning each year. He is a regular tutor at the Len Evans Tutorial.

Emma Farrelly is Director of Wine for the State Buildings & Como The Treasury, where she curates unique wine lists and wine events for each of the award-winning restaurants. For over 19 years, Emma’s passion for the wine industry has produced award-winning wine lists across top venues in Perth. For two years, Emma studied under the guidance of Dr Steve Charters, Master of Wine. Since then, Emma has worked as a Sommelier and consulted on various wine lists and menus, earning her recognition through numerous awards.

Erin Larkin is an independent wine writer and communicator based in Perth. In 2012, Erin left her successful fashion career and moved into the Wine business, where she is now a writer, judge, and presenter. She reviews Australian and New Zealand wines for Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and contributes to publications, including The Wine Companion magazine and Gourmet Traveller Wine. Erin is also WSET Level 3 qualified and is a Barossa Wine School Specialist educator. In 2022, she was accepted as a scholar in the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial.