Meet the judges: Q&A with Terry Kandylis


Terry Kandylis, DWWA Regional Chair

Titled Best Sommelier 2015 in Greece, Sommelier of the Year 2016 in the UK and representing Greece in the European Final in Vienna in 2017, Terry Kandylis is now the Group Head Sommelier at Noble Rot in London.

Growing up in Evia, Greece, Kandylis’ earliest encounters with wine were humble, centred around homemade wine that his family produced with purchased grapes. It wasn’t until his cousin, a sommelier, gave him a glass of quality Greek wine that his curiosity grew.

Working part-time in restaurants whilst studying Physics at the University of Athens, Kandylis experienced a pivotal moment when he served Pouilly-Fuissé instead of Pouilly-Fumé. ‘A classic rookie mistake’ he commented. Guided by his mentor, a restaurateur, he began learning more about different grape varieties, regions and wine styles.

Fast forward, Kandylis has worked at numerous fine-dining establishments including The Fat Duck, The Ledbury and private members club 67 Pall Mall before holding the position of Group Wine Director at Caprice Holdings Ltd.

Announced Regional Chair for Greece and Cyprus at Decanter World Wine Awards 2023, he will once again oversee the panel at the 2024 competition.

Ahead of judging this May – and with entries closing soon on 15th March – we get to know more about Kandylis, his proudest moments, thoughts on the future of Greek and Cypriot wines, as well as advice for producers.

Tell us about yourself. What does a typical day look like?

I’m now the Group Head Sommelier at Noble Rot and we have three sites. We’re a very wine centric group of restaurants. We started as a magazine which is still doing better and better every year and I love what the team is doing, their ethos and approach, and I think we’re very like-minded when it comes to the wines we like and the producers we admire.

My daily or weekly routine includes liaising with the Head Sommelier, all the sommeliers and tasks in each restaurant, being by their side, answering any questions they might have, guiding them and hopefully mentoring them in their steps. In a way, I want to transfer my experiences from the places I’ve been and the wines tied to them.

What is your proudest achievement so far?

I’m quite proud for 2020-2021 when I embarked on a winemaking journey. I bought some vineyards in Ribera del Duero and I started my own winemaking project.

I think the stories and the memories of my grandfather making his own wine, and of course, diving deeper into the world of wine and being able and lucky enough to meet producers and try some of the world’s best wines inspired me. Plus, hospitality was suffering in the middle of the pandemic and I really wanted to embark on this journey.

So one of my proudest achievements is resuscitating some extremely old bush vines. Some of them were abandoned or about to be grubbed up. I feel that making my own wine in Ribera del Duero captures my philosophy and my understanding about the wines of the world.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in the wine industry so far?

Staying humble. Wine is a fantastic beverage; I call it the social lubricant in the western world. I’m coming from Greece where it was always a vital part in the symposiums and meetings of people. The ancient sommeliers – ‘?enohoos’ as they used to call them – had even more power in their hands!

We’re not going to the moon. We need to stay humble. Wine can teach us so many lessons. When tasting a wine blind, one allows their senses to be part of a play where they’re trying to think about the origin of the wine, the variety or how it’s been made and, quite frequently, they might guess that wrong, so staying grounded I believe is important.

Which wine producing region or varieties would you encourage people to explore?

If speaking about my native Greek varieties, I would definitely say the grapes of Santorini, Robola from Kefalonia when it comes to whites and the amazing…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/decanter-world-wine-awards/meet-the-judges-qa-with-terry-kandylis-523531/