Meet the Liquor Barons Tasting Panel

The Liquor Barons Tasting Panel comprises of a wine trade professional and retailers who have extensive knowledge of wines. They have studied degrees in oenology and the WSET in Wines and Spirits Level 2, 3 and 4. The Panel meets twice a month and taste through up to 35 wines (blind) at each sitting shortlisting the silver and golds in order to pick their top 24 wines for each quarterly issue of the On the Vine magazine. In addition to tasting wines on the Panel, they also attend trade tastings regularly and are judges at wine shows

The Liquor Barons Tasting Panel

Rod Properjohn: Rod has been involved in wine for 40 years and has been a wine educator for 35 years. He has written for a number of magazines including Scoop, WineState, West Coast, Menu, Spice and Cravings as well as newspapers in WA. He is the writer of On the Rod ProperjohnVine, a Liquor Barons publication. Rod has also been chief judge/judge at numerous wine shows including, Bridgetown Boutique, Geographe, Timbertowns and Wandering. He has won the Jack Mann medal for outstanding contribution to the WA wine industry.He loves wine and food, “a perfect marriage” he says.

Rod enjoys being on the panel as he can taste different wines with a group of knowing wine professionals. Outside of the panel, Rod tastes wines whenever able. It’s difficult for him to identify his three best wines as he likes to find quality wines at great prices and there has been lots of those lately. His next regional visit would be Champagne, because it is so long since he has been there.


Stef Biagi: Stef loves discovering new wines and tasting new vintages from some of his favourites. He has always had a passion for wine Stefand joined the trade 17 years ago. His wine trade life began with managing six independents for over 10 years before moving to Swanbourne Cellars as manager in 2010. While in the trade, Stef studied all the courses provided at the Wine Education Centre including Wine Basics, Advanced Wine and WSET Level 2. He has also travelled extensively in Australia and last September headed off to explore the wine regions of Spain including Rioja, Navarra, San Sebastián, Penedès and Bilbao. Click here to read about part one of his trip and click here for part two. Stef currently chairs the Liquor Barons Tasting Panel.


Steve Perry: Steve has been involved in the wine trade for many years starting at John Coppins in 1985 where he worked for 12 years. He then became General Manager at Swanbourne Cellars  and now co-chairs the Liquor Barons panel with Stef. Steve hasSteve travelled extensively within Australia and across to Europe visiting Champagne, Burgundy, Rhône Valley, Provence and Tuscany. What he likes most about his job, apart from the wine, is the people which is reflected in his loyal customer base who don’t hesitate to ask him for his latest recommendations. When he’s not at the store, you might find him playing tennis, off bike riding and when the swell is up, surfing. In September and October, Steve headed off to Spain and Portugal visiting not only some fantastic bodegas but sampling the tasty seafood lunches and soaking up the incredible atmosphere of the towns. We’re currently writing up his trip so keep a look out on the blog for updates!


Michael Dickson: Michael Dickson was interested in wine initially as a hobby and then later as a career. In the past he has worked as Michaelboth a wholesaler and retailer and more recently at Liquor Barons Claremont.
Michael started tasting with a panel while working at Liberty Liquors and has now been on the Liquor Barons Panel for the past 10 years. Michael loves the fact that the world of wine is continuously changing and there are always new varieties and wines to try. There is also the opportunity to learn from new and experienced panel members whose knowledge he says is more developed than his. The greatest satisfaction of the panel’s work is when a wine that we have chosen for review, in the Liquor Barons newsletter, later goes on to receive wine show awards or further acclaim from the wine industry.

Michael has recently been impressed by the improvement in three of his favourite wine styles, as shown by the stunning 2010 Singlefile Blanc de Blanc, in his opinion up there with the very best WA sparkling wines. A tall poppy but still a sensational wine the 2014 Leeuwin Chardonnay and the very good value and beautifully perfumed 2016 Dalrymple Pinot Noir.

Michael would like to next visit Spain, an incredible mix of wine, food, culture, landscapes and passion. When not working or tasting, Michael will be cycling around Perth.

Anthony Reynolds: Anthony is a qualified winemaker having made wines for Palandri for over 9 years and has been maAnthony-Reynoldsking wines for Cowaramup Wines for over 14 years. As well as making wine, Anthony has travelled extensively; working vintages in Margaret River, Beaujolais & Languedoc in France and Rheinhessen in Germany. Anthony has been the main owner at Liquor Barons Dalkeith for 7 years. In June Anthony headed off to London with family to see the sights and where he was also able to taste a range of international and Australian wines. When asked about what he loves most about his job, it’s going to trade tastings and seeing what’s out there in the world and buying it for his loyal customers. And when he’s not working, you might see him paddle boarding or playing a round of golf!


Anthony Cooper: Anthony is the manager of Liquor Barons Mosman Park. Before joining the Liquor Barons group, Anthony was a wine sales representative working with many international and Australian brands. AnthonyAnthony enjoys being on the panel, hearing different opinions on wines in front of the group and the debates on style, technique, region & trends vs. tradition that follow – things can change quickly with fashion in the industry, at the same same time he can be brought back to memories of wines tasted a decade or more ago as variety, region or maker rises above and just produces a great wine.

His top 3 wines tasted in the last 3 months have been; Mount Mary Chardonnay, Yarra Valley 2014, Champagne Veuve Fourny 2005 Cuvée du “Clos Faubourg Notre-Dame” and Antoniolo “Osso San Grato” Gattinara 2008. Anthony attends trade tastings and masterclasses as often as possible as few industries have their ranges completely renewed which each harvest with such enthusiasm & vigor. New regions, winemakers, varieties as well as time in bottle mean each tasting can bring new learning and experience. He would next like to visit Tasmania – Chardonnay & Pinot are almost unbeatable as favourite varieties, sparkling wine has always been a major love, the island’s best wines probably still have not even been produced yet. The future is bright.

Grattan Joyce: Grattan started early in the world of wine with a passionate vino loving father and with close family friends at Frankland Estate. This began the long and fulfilling journey for Grattan in wine. While studying a Bachelor of Science (Viticulture and Oenology) he worked and lived in the Margaret River wine industry under the banner of some of Australia’s most well-known and respected wineries. Grattan was humbled to have worked with and mentored by Virginia Willcock and Rob Mann (former Australian Winemakers oGrattanf the Year recipients) accomplishing several vintages with them at Vasse Felix and Cape Mentelle respectively. Looking for something a little different he ventured into hospitality beginning at Morries in Margaret River. He soon climbed through the ranks which stimulated a fruitful career in hospitality management. Since then he has worked for some of the best restaurants Perth has to offer. Grattan enjoys being on the panel with an educated group of professionals whom debate, and sometimes healthily argue, about wine. It provides a real platform for the customer, something they can rely on that isn’t biased or subjective due to an individual’s preference. He enjoys providing that service to the customers, as it’s hard enough choosing with the ever growing wine selection these days!
Grattan’s top 3 wines tasted in the last 3 months are: 1.RieslingFreak No. 3 (Riesling) 2.Domaine William Fevre Les Preuses Grand Cru (Chablis) 3.E. Guigal Saint-Joseph ‘Cuvee Lieu-Dit Saint-Joseph’ (95% Marsanne, 5% Rousanne.) Grattan attends as many tastings as he can with his busy schedule. Most are hosted by distributors while he also attends private tastings when in Margaret River or if a friend has “found a diamond in the rough”. Grattan would like to next visit Burgundy as he would like to be able to look at the wines that don’t get a chance to reach Australian soils due to importing costs and or supply restrictions. When not tasting wines on the panel, Grattan is tasting beer with the beer panel where he faces off beers from around the globe to present only the best at Swanbourne Cellars.


Ruth Turnbull: Living in Bordeaux as a university student and writing her dissertation about the reputation of Bordeaux wine Ruthstarted Ruth’s interest in the industry. Since then Ruth has passed the Wine and Spirits Advanced Certificate and Diploma, both with merit, at the WSET school in London. Ruth first worked in retail and then in Public Relations in the wine trade. Since moving to Perth and working as a consultant in the trade, Ruth has studied the Wines Essentials Plus course and tasted on the panel with Peter Forrestal and for the past 3 years; on the Liquor Barons Tasting Panel. She enjoys being on the panel with such talented people and being able to discuss the wines, learn about different styles and loves tasting them all blind which ensures there is no preconceived judging.

Ruth’s top 3 wines tasted in the past 3 months have been Marq Malbec 2015, Coriole Barbera 2016 and BY OTT Rosé Côtes du Provence 2016. As often as she can you’ll see Ruth at trade and consumer tastings especially as her aim is to complete the highly acclaimed Master of Wine so she needs to keep developing her palate as much as possible. The next wine region Ruth would like to visit is Chile.  They are making some fantastic wines all over the country from Leyda Valley, Colchagua, Casablanca, Aconcagua, Limari Valley and can’t wait to visit some of the wineries and she hears there’s good surf along the coast too!