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Home News > April 2018 > A few sips with... Nigel Lister

SWA Judge Nigel Lister tells us about his return as team leader this year.

1. How long have you been working on on-trade and judging at SWA?

I first started working as a sommelier at Asia de Cuba about 15 years ago and I must have been judging SWA for about ten years.

2. You returned to judge this year, how was your experience of being back?

Well it was a surprise to be team leading again! Having been away for about three years I expected to just join a team but when someone’s journey was foiled by the Monday morning snow Christine Parkinson suggested I might like to join the team leaders briefing. It was great to be back: walking into the room to be greeted by some old friends, (Tom Forrest took one look at me and shouted, ‘where the hell have you been?’) But also a sea of new faces. A new bunch of sommeliers who were enthusiastic about the competition; some great tasters and note writers and no divas!

3. And what’s the most challenging part?

I really enjoy listening to other Sommeliers take on a wine. It’s always interesting when someone advocates a wine and others offer reasons why it’s not so great... it can sometimes be tricky if you find yourself disagreeing with the way a group is heading with a wine but tact, diplomacy and a quiet word with Christine to highlight a controversy is all part of what makes the team leaders role interesting.

4. What were your favourite flights or wines you tasted / highlights from this year?

Overall I found this year to be consistent rather than thrilling, Australian Riesling and Chardonnay being an example. Often flights I had high hopes for disappointed but others surprised. The flight of wines from Georgia, Turkey and Kazakhstan were impressive, the Rhône was pretty good and I still vaguely remember that beautifully, autumnal, plangent Barolo... Also, I must acknowledge the extraordinary vocal eruptions from (SWA team leader) Laurent Richet as a constant highlight of the whole competition.

5. Finally, what’s your favourite wine/region/country?

Well like everyone in our industry I drink fairly eclectically though mainly European wines and my favourite wine country is still France. I love the spice of south; the elegance in Rhône and Bordeaux but also Burgundy and Champagne.