Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Case of Questions with Demetri Walters MW

I've gone Trump on you, dear readers. I've lied. A few months back when I covered Yiannis Karakasis' visit to The Rock, I said that Cyprus is still waiting for its first Master of Wine. Well, there's one MW who's actually half-Cypriot and I had no clue. Introducing Demetri Walters, Wine Educator and Presenter for Berry Bros. & Rudd, the UK's oldest wine and spirits merchant having opened its doors back in 1698. Demetri, who's somewhat obsessed with fortified wines, received his MW in 2013 and talks to us here about plenty of his other passions.

Why wine?

Demetri Walters (DW): It was my interest for a long time before I got into the trade. I deluded myself that I wanted to do something else until life showed me that I didn’t have a choice.

First wine that really captured your attention? How old were you?

DW: Commandaria. I remember my parents (my mother is from Cyprus) introducing it to me when I was very little. I used to drink small amounts of it in my early teens and found the flavour (and slight intoxication) thrilling!

All-time favorite bottle of wine?

DW: I once tasted and enjoyed a 1780 Bual Madeira. The wine was exceptionally complex and the associated story quite unbelievable. Oceans of time had elapsed since that harvest.

Favourite wine-producing region? Why?

DW: I don’t really have favourite wines. I am a champion of wines of the Eastern Mediterranean and Eastern Europe. I am extremely partial to fortified wines. Ultimately though, I have great affection for any great wine region.

Your favourite food-and-wine pairing?

DW: Bual or Malvasia Madeira and dark chocolate…Oh yes!

What is Cyprus missing when it comes to wine?

DW: A continuous, little disturbed history of making great wine. However, that’s the past. The future looks very rosy indeed.

Commandaria is one of Demetri's Favourite Wines.

What do you foresee for Cyprus’s wine industry?

DW: That it will only succeed with great collaboration amongst the various stakeholders. That’s already taking effect. Optimising quality is the way forward and Cyprus is on the right track. Patience is the name of the game here and I see it paying-off each time I open a bottle of Cypriot wine.

What do you enjoy most about your work in the food & wine world?

DW: Getting to eat food and drink wine that has been made with passion, commitment and a fascinating story.

What is your “Five Year Plan” for your career/business?

DW: To build up Berry Bros. & Rudd’s wine education profile amongst all channels: on-trade and off-trade, and to develop my own position as a person who strives to knock down the blinkers of wine prejudice.

Who is your favorite wine personality? Why?

DW: I have a number of them, and they are mostly my friends in the wine trade and in the production of wine around the world. Wine people are amongst the friendliest, kindest and most interesting people I know. I love our network.

Any embarrassing episodes involving spilled wine, corkscrews, sommeliers or drunken behavior?

DW: Drunken behaviour? You think I’d tell everyone? Yes, many…sadly. But that was a long time ago…well, maybe not so long ago. Many years ago, whilst living in the Australian bush, I attended a spectacular booze-fuelled Bachelor and Spinsters party. I woke up the next day in the middle of nowhere and cannot, to this day, remember how I got there. I do remember being laid out in the back of a pick-up truck and having a tarpaulin pulled over me so that the local policeman wouldn’t arrest me. As for embarrassing episodes with spilled wine, sommeliers etc., yes, plenty, and I’m sure there’ll be many more!

Of course, your all-time favourite island wine?

DW: Deserted Island wine: would have to be Madeira as it’s the only wine capable of surviving on a deserted island!

Otherwise, Island wine: Commandaria. It’s regaining its deserved reputation as one of the great sweet wines of the world.

You can reach Demetri on Twitter and the Berry Bros. & Rudd Website.

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