Meet the Judges – Jacopo Dalli Cani

July 30, 2021

Robert Diletti


Jacopo (rebaptised “Japo” by his fellow Australians) was born in Soave, a prime wine region in the north-east of Italy. Growing up surrounded by vineyards and wineries, Japo was involved in wine production since an early age.  After graduating at the Viticulture and Oenology University of Conegliano, Italy and upon gathering valuable experience in his home country, Japo decided to broaden his knowledge by travelling to other wine regions in Europe and the new world. Japo completed internships for top producers in France, Australia and New Zealand.

Impressed by the quality of the wines and by the breath-taking beauty of the landscape, he returned to WA and settled in Margaret River. Japo joined the McHenry Hohnen team in 2016 where he was appointed Head Winemaker in 2019. He has competed the AWAC course in Adelaide and has judged at the Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show and the Wine Show of WA.

We asked Japo a few questions about his love of wine – here’s what he had to say!


What was the last show stopping wine you drank?
“It was a white wine from Rioja we had at our end of Vintage party: Vina Tondonia Reserva Blanco 2005. I had no idea that this region could produce such outstanding and age worthy white wines. It was a blend of Viura and a local clone of Malvasia and the wine was over 15 years old…it smelled like a complex Fiano and had plenty of freshness left on the palate with great drinkability, it didn’t last long on the table.

What is your go to food and wine pairing?
“Champagne and Pizza! It’s a good compromise between sacred and profane, and you can always shave some truffle on your pizza to lift the bar…”

Earliest memory of wine?
“Got a few as a child but one of the better ones would be ‘assisting’ my Grandfather making wine in his dark cellar in Italy. I was only a kid but I remember clearly his red wines being very light in colour, unoaked, definitely un-fined and un-filtered, hand bottled by gravity and often without any sulphur…I guess today he would be considered a brave innovator and probably a bit of a hipster and his wines would be featured in every cool wine bar’s list. Later as a young student of oenology I would try to suggest to him a few tricks in the cellar and in the vineyard, however he would only take suggestions in the vineyard and didn’t want to change anything about the way he operated in his cellar. Took me 20 years to understand it was all about integrity, and I truly respect him for that.”

What gets you excited about the Geographe wine region?
“The is an extra point of interest for me in judging wines from this region, there are a multitude of alternative varieties I am rarely exposed to in Margaret River, but I was when I was in Italy. Here there are producers well experienced in crafting high quality wines from these alternative varieties, there is much to learn and take inspiration from.”

What’s the most interesting part of wine judging for you?
Connecting with other industry professionals and benchmarking my palate with theirs, you always learn from others. Sharing interesting and inspiring wines with them after judging is also good fun…

Stay tuned for our final profile, on Associate Judge, Yu Kurosawa