The IWC Merchant Awards UK judging panel is headed by Peter McCombie MW and Charles Metcalfe. In 2018, they were joined by the 3 below guest judges. 2019 guest judges will be announced soon.
Peter's career in wine started in sales working with legendary Winecellars that champion Italian wines. He now operates an independent wine consultancy service, focused on hotels and restaurants.
Born and raised in New Zealand, now resident in London, he speaks widely, hosting corporate and public events as well as industry seminars. He teaches at the Christie's Wine Course and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, as well as conducting bespoke courses for anyone from beginners to MW students. He writes for a number of publications and has judged wine competitions around the world.
Charles Metcalfe's tasting career started at university, where he captained the Oxford tasting team to victory over Cambridge two years running. He co-founded the consumer magazine Wine International with Robert Joseph in 1983. They started the International Wine Challenge in 1984. He is also in demand as an international wine judge, and has judged in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal and South Africa.
As well as writing books on Spanish and Portuguese wines, and on matching wine with food, Charles has appeared on many UK television programmes, presenting drinks and and food items. His latest book is 'The Wine & Food Lover's Guide to Portugal', written with his wife, Kathryn McWhirter, with an update due shortly, and his website, www.charlesmetcalfe.com, allows him the occasional rant.
Laura Jewell took up the position of Head of Market for the UK and Europe at Wine Australia in February 2015, overseeing the marketing strategy for Australian wines. The focus is on trade education, tastings and exhibitions and consumer engagement through retailer promotions within the on and off-trade. Leading a team of 5, Laura has a programme of over 50 events across the UK and Europe to tell the stories behind premium Australian wines, and to increase the demand for Australian wines.
Laura joined the Product Development team at Tesco in September 2010, overseeing the development of the range in conjunction with the wine buying team, for all the markets Tesco trades in, including Central Europe and Asia. Tesco won the Wine Supermarket of the Year award at the IWC following 2 years of dynamic development in store and on line, resulting in a better shopping experience for customers.
Laura gained her Master of Wine in 1997 while working as the wine buyer at the Waverley Group, one of the UK’s largest wholesalers.
Spencer is an entrepreneur and investor in internet technology, media and consumer products. He is a founder and partner at www.cocoarunners.com. Prior to this he founded and was CEO of Artfinder, COO of Last.fm (which he helped sell to CBS for $280m) and was General Manager of Technology Products for Amazon in Europe.
Currently, Spencer also serves as a board / advisory board member for a number of start-ups including Linked-In, Yoyo-games, Melody VR, Summly, Jingle Punks, Makie-Doll, Lux Fix and Pigeonhole. Outside of these commercial interests he is a Trustee of the Foundling Museum and is on the international advisory board of Creative Commons.
Robin Copestick began his wine career at Moreno Wines in the mid 1980’s. Having started his apprenticeship in the Maida Vale store he soon became their first full time salesperson and then, as the company grew, he was promoted to Sales Director and then Joint Managing Director.
In 2001 Robin was approached by McGuigan Simeon (now Australian Vintage Limited) to become their General Manager for Europe. During his three and half years with McGuigan Simeon sales increased exponentially and Robin also presided over the launch of the now famous McGuigan brand in the UK and Irish Supermarkets.
In July 2005 Robin co-founded the start up of Copestick Murray. Thirteen years later and the company is set for a turnover of over £70 million in 2018. It has recently acquired 100% of Free Run Wines and 40% of The Slurp Wine Company. Copestick Murray now employs more than 30 people and is the owner of the i Heart Wines brand which is on target for sales in excess of 20 million bottles in 2018.
In 2013 Henkell & Co purchased 60% of Copestick Murray and the remaining 40% in 2016. Following the news that Henkell & Co have now acquired more than 50% of Freixenet S.A. the group will become the largest producer of Sparkling wine in the world.
In his spare time Robin enjoys playing and watching sport as well as travelling and discovering new wines and restaurants.