January 2017 Newsletter

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The Institute of Masters of Wine has moved into its new Headquarters and the Executive team couldn’t be more delighted. The new office is based near Vauxhall, on the South bank of the River Thames. We hope when you come, you will agree this is a space fit for the future ambition of the Institute. You’ll find a flexible events space large enough for seated tastings for 45 people, a wine storage and preparation area, and a separate meeting room for Masters of Wine. Please do visit, and use it, we can’t wait to share it (see here for how to find us). If you can’t come before, we are planning a ‘housewarming party’, just for Masters of Wine, on the evening of Tuesday 25 April. We hope to celebrate with you then. We haven’t lost sight this is only possible thanks to the foresight of those of you who set up the Endowment Fund, and all who gave so generously to it. It’s also possible thanks to the continued dedication of all Masters of Wine, who make this Institute such a special place in the global wine world. 



IMW Auction, 16 November 2017

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On 16 November 2017 the Institute will hold an unforgettable evening presenting the very best the wine world has to offer at a unique Auction and Dinner. Hosted by Bonhams, this event will bring together Masters of Wine, wine connoisseurs and renowned winemakers. Guests will have the unparalleled opportunity to bid for Super Lots – exclusive experiences from the world of wine, and there will be an online auction leading up to the event, with numerous wine-themed Lots. We would love your help in helping construct those Lots, and will be in touch soon with more details of the Auction and how to get involved. We hope you can help, as we would like to raise a considerable sum for our Endowment Fund. This will help provide support to our international students, allow us to increase our reach to prospective Members, and extend our range of activities in the global wine world.


IMW International Symposium, Living Wine, June 2018

SymposiumThe Institute’s next Symposium will take place from 14 to 17 June 2018 in Logroño, the centre of the Rioja region of Spain. Entitled ‘Living Wine’, our 9th International Symposium aims to examine the world of wine from numerous and new angles, to get us talking about our relationship with wine and how we regard it in our lives. Over 400 attendees will enjoy a fascinating, fun, action-packed long weekend which will include many of the top personalities in the wine world, both as speakers and delegates.The Living Wine Symposium will be a thought-provoking, network-enabling, taste bud- salivating and wine knowledge-enhancing few days which will leave you enriched and delighted. Filled with magical moments, from the geeky to the indulgent, with some surprises along the way, this promises to be the most exciting and enthralling Symposium yet.

Details of our confirmed speakers and sessions will be published over the coming weeks and months. In January, Masters of Wine will be able to purchase tickets at a discounted rate, before general release. Further details of the Symposium and how to buy tickets will be sent to all Members in January. 


American Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting, 26 January 2017, London

American Cab UK newsletter.pngFollowing the successful American Cabernet Sauvignon tasting held earlier this year in San Francisco, we are thrilled to bring this tasting to London. The selection of wines will include many already well known in Europe (eg Ridge, Opus One, Dominus, Jordan) as well as other top rated Estates that are rarely seen outside the USA. Tickets are priced at £40 for MWs, £60 for students and £80 for all other tasters. The tasting takes place between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH. To book please email Chloe Thompson or call 0207 383 9130.



Annual Bordeaux Tasting 2012 Vintage, 25 January 2017, San Francisco

Claret 2016The fourth annual Institute of Masters of Wine Bordeaux Tasting will be held at the Hyatt Centric Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco on January 25, 2017. This event mirrors the long-established Annual Bordeaux Tasting in London and will showcase wines from the Grands Crus Classés of the Médoc and their equivalents from the Right Bank and Graves (including Sauternes). The tasting is offered in one single session from 10am to 1pm. There are only a few tickets left, $70 for Masters of Wine and current MW students and $100 for general admission. A limited number of reduced-rate general admission tickets will also be available to full-time wine industry professionals (trade credentials required) and registered WSET Diploma students. For further information and to book your tickets online, see here. This tasting will also take place in Sydney, Australia on 30 April 2017.


Sparkling Wine Tasting review - Nancy Gilchrist MW

Sparkling Wines.pngThe Sparkling Wine blind tasting took place in November with a full house of attendees. MWs, MW students and guests blind tasted over 70 high-quality, traditional method sparkling wines from 12 countries. By bringing together some of the very best examples, the intention was to provide an overview of the quality of traditional method sparkling wines made around the world today. Nancy Gilchrist MW reviews the tasting, available to read in full on the Events and Trips blog here"Talking on the night to those who attended, there was a genuine sense of surprise and pleasure at the overall calibre of the wines. These were loosely grouped stylistically: NV blends, Blanc de Blancs and Blancs de Noirs and finally traditional method wines made from grapes other than Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. There were also five Champagnes scattered throughout the tasting by way of benchmarks."


Study Programme

Rust Seminar - Austrian Wine Academy

Rust Seminar.pngIn the December Newsletter we updated you on the Adelaide Educational Seminar, the first of the academic year. The next Seminar, and the first of 2017 takes place in Rust, Austria at the Austrian Wine Academy. The Academy, the largest wine school in Europe, has hosted the MW Seminar for the past 13 years, with nearly 500 students starting their MW journey there. Austrian Wine Academy has always been a fruitful source for the IMW; seven MWs have taken their WSET Diploma and their advanced ‘Weinakademiker’ qualification at the Academy and in 2016 more than 10% of the newly accepted MW students worldwide graduated there. To read more, including comment from Josef Schuller MW, Managing Director of the Academy and past Chairman of the IMW, see here


Napa Valley Wine Academy Awards First Master of Wine Scholarship

Napa Valley Wine Academy.pngThe Napa Valley Wine Academy has awarded its first scholarship to a student in the MW Study Programme. Brandon Sparks-Gillis, the co-founder of Dragonette Cellars in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley, has received the first award. Brandon is a Stage 2 student in the Study Programme and will receive money towards fees, tastings and travel as part of his prize. The scholarship was open to Stage 2 candidates in North America who submitted an essay on: Cabernet Sauvignon: the future of Napa Valley? The judging panel consisted of four Masters of Wine, Christy Canterbury MW, Matt Deller MW, Tim Hanni MW and Peter Marks MW. On receiving the award Brandon said, “I am honored and thrilled to receive this very generous scholarship. It was a really fun question to explore, and I would like to thank my colleagues in Napa for so graciously sharing their perspectives and helping to shape my view on the subject. Thanks to the Napa Valley Wine Academy for the opportunity, and for their commitment to the MW programme and wine education in general.” Read more here.


Research Papers

The Institute is delighted to report that since making the Research Papers (RPs) available for public view, we have had over 400 requests to see them. These requests have come from over 36 different countries and RPs have been sent out to a wide variety of people, from CEOs and directors through to visitor centre managers, Royal Navy commanders and WSET diploma students. We believe this demonstrates the relevance of the Institute’s RPs to the wine community and the high level of interest in the research conducted by Masters of Wine during this third stage of the Exam. 
View the RP titles here.

Education Officer - Maternity Cover

The Institute’s Education Officer, Marianne Crocker, will be temporarily leaving her post in March for maternity leave. We are therefore recruiting for Marianne's maternity cover replacement for a 12 month period, starting in early March. This important role supports MW students and MWs involved in delivering the Study Programme. We are looking for a suitably experienced individual to take on this role, so please share this link, www.mastersofwine.org/vacancies, with anyone you think might have an interest and the requisite skills and experience. If there are any questions regarding the role or the vacancy, please contact Olly Chapman.


Switzerland, 7-11 September 2017

Swiss Trip.pngThe Institute’s newest Supporter Swiss Wine, will be sponsoring a trip for 23 Masters of Wine. This is the first trip ever organised for Institute members to visit this beautiful and lesser known wine country. It will be an opportunity to discover the wines from the qualitative revolution that began in Switzerland one quarter of a century ago and which today reveals impressive and unexpected wines.

The trip will take place following the AGM and will begin on Thursday 7 September 2017 in Geneva and end on Monday 11 September 2017 in Zurich, allowing visits across the country to four of its most important wine growing regions – the Vaud, Valais (French areas), Ticino (Italian area) and Graubünden (German area). The itinerary is still being developed but will look to focus on Swiss viticultural history, regional grape varieties as well as new variety development, regional wine styles, its diverse vineyard soils, "mountain viticulture" and the future for Swiss wine. We will invite MWs to register for this trip shortly, for now please save the date. 


Student Trip to Chile, November 2016

Chile trip (1).pngKindly hosted by Institute Supporters Santa Rita Estates and Viña Errazuriz, 14 MW students from 10 countries enjoyed a week long trip to Chile in November, led by Richard Bampfield MW. "There were two notable aspects of the trip. Firstly, the astonishing generosity of our hosts, with time, wine, people and expense - it exceeded all expectations and reflected the high regard in which the IMW is held. Secondly, the calibre and professionalism of the students. There is no doubt they left a strong and positive impression with our hosts and are already a credit to the Institute." You can read Richard's full report on the Chile trip, on the Events and Trips blog here.


Winemakers' Winemaker Award 2017

Winemakers Award.pngIn collaboration with The Drinks Business, the Institute will be awarding the annual Winemakers’ Winemaker Award at a ceremony in ProWein in March 2017. The honour, which has been awarded since 2011, recognises outstanding achievement in the field of winemaking. The award’s past winners have been: Peter Sisseck of Dominio de Pingus (2011), Peter Gago of Penfolds (2012), Paul Draper of Ridge (2013), Anne-Claude Leflaive (d) of Domaine Leflaive (2014), Egon Müller from Egon Müller Scharzhof (2015) and Àlvaro Palacios of Priorat (2016). We have sent an invitation to all MW winemakers asking for nominations, so we can draw up a shortlist. If you are an MW winemaker, there is still time to cast your vote before the end of January. Please email Chloe Thompson with your nomination.


Giles Cooke MW - Our Fathers 2015 Vintage

Our Fathers.pngIn 2015 Giles Cooke MW launched a wine called Our Fathers, from which all of the profits are donated to Mental Health, Palliative Care, Heart and Cancer related charities. Giles' project was inspired by the desire to give something back after the loss of his father to cancer and his mother losing the battle with depression. Over the course of the last year, the inaugural vintage has allowed donations to be made to St Columbas Hospice in Edinburgh and to Scottish Action on Mental Health’s suicide prevention work. As well as raising much needed funds for charity, the wine was also critically acclaimed, given 94pts by Jamie Goode and described by Rose Murray Brown MW as “one of the best Barossa Shiraz” she has tasted. Giles told the IMW, "With the 2014 almost gone, the 2015 vintage arrives next week and follows a similar style to the 2014. Relatively early picking followed by a natural ferment with 40% whole bunch, it is then aged in large French oak for 18 months before bottling. Production is once again limited to 1100 bottles. I’m very grateful to everyone who has supported the 2014 and hope that the 2015 will be similarly well received." Our Fathers 2015 is £25 per bottle inc VAT. Please contact Giles directly for orders, more information can be found at www.ourfatherswines.com


Matthew Deller MW and Mary Margaret McCamic MW - New Masters of Wine

McCamic and Deller.pngThe two newest US Masters of Wine, Matthew Deller MW and Mary Margaret McCamic MW, spoke to the St Helena Star in December about their respective journeys to become a Master of Wine. Reflecting on their MW achievement, both Matthew and Mary told the Napa Valley newspaper they wanted to pursue the Master of Wine credential because of its global reputation, rigorous standards, and comprehensive view of the world of wine. “The blind-tasting portion alone requires that candidates master all categories of wine, including fortified, sweet, rose, and sparkling wines,” said Mary, who was awarded the Bollinger Medal for her outstanding tasting performance as well as the Outstanding Achievement Award for her best overall score on all portions of the MW exam. Matthew said, “For me, once I knew that there was an exam that represented the pinnacle of wine trade education, it was like a red flag to a bull. Fewer people have passed the MW exams than have climbed Mt. Everest or been into space. It’s a defining achievement.” Read the full article here.


Romana Echensperger MW - Wedding Bells

Romana.pngThe Institute wishes Romana Echensperger MW many congratulations following her wedding to Norbert Kern. Romana and Norbert were married in December and on sharing the news, Romana told us, "My husband is the lovely Norbert Kern, he is an architect and loves - thankfully - Silvaner!". 






Sonal Holland MW - One of Indian Luxury's Most Powerful Women

Sonal Holland MW.pngSonal Holland MW has been named as one of the top 50 most powerful women in Indian Luxury. This list, handpicked by BlackBook, includes the women who have worked tirelessly to ensure the smooth running of the luxury Indian industry. On receiving the accolade Sonal paid tribute to fellow Master of Wine, Jancis Robinson MW, saying "I look up to Jancis...She boasts many credentials, including the Master of Wine title. She inspires me in terms of what a woman can achieve in a profession that has been traditionally male dominated." Sonal, the first Indian MW, is one of the 18 new Masters of Wine who were welcomed to the Membership at the Awards Ceremony in November (pictured). Read more here.


Yiannis Karakasis MW - The Vineyards and Wines of Greece 2017

Yiannis Karakasis MW.pngYiannis Karakasis MW has released an ebook called The Vineyards and Wines of Greece 2017, covering the current wine scene in Greece and all the excitement it has created. In the forward of this first edition, fellow Master of Wine Demetri Walters MW comments that ''set in the context of this renaissance, Yiannis Karahas created an easy-to-read, comprehensive and timely issue that outlines the state of wine production in Greece today, launching a number of enquiries into the current state of Greece's regional styles, specifically the rise of island wines, including the brand dominance of Santorini Assyrtiko. He furthermore assesses the quality developments being achieved in Greece's most famous red wine-growing regions, notably the possibility that Xinomavro of Naoussa might well become the next cause for celebration. Moving on, he evaluates the resurgence of traditional, often obscure, grape varieties and styles, including the rebirth of time-honoured wines such as Retsina as well as the celebrated sweet wine styles. This consideration continues as Karakasis tables his own classification of wine quality based on extensive travels and tasting''. To purchase the ebook, see here.  


Isabelle Legeron MW wins WSET Outstanding Alumni Award

Isabelle Legeron MW.pngIsabelle Legeron MW has been announced as the first winner of the new WSET Outstanding Alumni Award, in partnership with JancisRobinson.com. Jancis Robinson MW sponsored the new award to celebrate a fellow WSET graduate who is notably contributing to the industry. WSET Diploma graduates from across the world voted for Isabelle to win the award over four other nominees – Maureen Downey, Joe Fattorini, Kenichi Ohashi MW and Yang Lu – who are all distinguished personalities in the industry that were chosen by the WSET International Alumni Advisory Board and Jancis Robinson herself. Isabelle will be presented with her award at the annual WSET Graduation and Awards Ceremony in January 2017. On winning the award Isabelle said, "I am honoured to have been chosen for this award. The WSET - and particularly the Diploma - gave me solid foundations to begin a life in wine and I'm very grateful to all my fellow WSET graduates for voting for me. Thank you.” Commenting on Isabelle's win, Jancis said, “I have long been an admirer of Isabelle’s energy and determination. She is a real powerhouse with an international reputation and has truly achieved something hugely distinctive.”


Eugene Mlynczyk MW - Canadian Wines

Eugene.pngFeatured in both La Metropole and SamyRabbat.com, Eugene Mlynczyk MW talks about his experience as a Master of Wine, how passing the examination had been the focus of his career and how, since becoming an MW it has opened up doors in the industry. Based in Canada, Eugene shares his thoughts on the best styles of Canadian wine, including Ice Wine, sparkling wines (even in Nova Scotia), and Chardonnay from Ontario. Read the full article here




Dermot Nolan MW - Wines at Christmas

Dermot Nolan MW.pngDermot Nolan MW shared with Lovin Dublin his wine buying choices for the festive season, from what kind of wine he would recommend for Christmas Day to impressing guests at a party. Speaking about Christmas Day, Dermot said, "There’s often a belief that you should drink red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat and fish. But by and large food and wine matching depends more on the sauce than the protein. Most wines go well with turkey and ham. Unless you’re using a heavily spiced sauce just choose a better version of your normal favourite." To read the full article and all Dermot's choices, see here.



Mark Pygott MW - Annual Awards Ceremony

Mark Pygott MW with JM.pngMark Pygott MW, one of the 18 new Members, shares on his website Sniff.com what the Annual Awards Ceremony and becoming an MW has meant to him. "I had thought that I wasn’t going to write anything about the MW award ceremony as it felt like it would be difficult to not make it all sound rather self congratulatory. However as I’ve subjected Sniff’s readers to some of the trials and tribulations experienced over the last couple of years of my passage through the MW program, it seemed somewhat disingenuous of me not to finish it off with a brief piece on the denouement itself. As always, the memories of the event that will remain forever etched on my consciousness are the spirit of friendliness and welcome that were on constant display from the other MW’s (both new and old) in attendance, and the feeling of joy that pervaded the whole occasion both pre, during and post the ceremony itself. It is hard not to be impressed by many of my fellow MW’s so wide is their scope of experience and impact on the wine world in which I’ve chosen to seek (and sometimes eek) out a living." Read Mark's full reflection here.


Norrel Robertson MW - A plain-speaking Scot shaking up Spanish wine

Norrel Robertson MW.pngThe Sunday Times (UK) recently featured Norrel Robertson MW and discussed his company El Escoces Volant (The Flying Scot) based in Calatayud, Spain. "Doing things differently is Mr Robertson’s style. Anyone considering making wine in Spain, for instance, might head to the heartlands of the industry in La Rioja, Ribera del Duero or Penedès. Mr Robertson decided to base his empire in Calatayud, an unfashionable city in northeastern Spain whose greatest claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of the bawdy Roman poet Martial, pioneer of the epigram. The 47-year-old Scot knows what he is doing, though. He is, after all, the only master of wine living and working in Spain." Read the full article, through Norrel's website here.



Gonzalez Byass UK Portfolio Tasting 2017

Gonzalez Byass.pngInstitute Supporter Gonzalez Byass will hold their annual UK portfolio tasting in February. The tasting will showcase the entire portfolio from the extensive Spanish wine and sherry offerings to premium brands from across the globe including Jackson Estate, Wirra Wirra, Quinta do Noval and Champagne Deutz, alongside more recent additions from Domaine Zind Humbrecht, Disznókő Tokaji, Veramonte in Chile and Txakoli Txomin Etxaniz. The latest releases will be on show, together with a selection of special bottles from the cellars. Highlights include the UK launch of the Tio Pepe Challenge demonstrating sherry’s place as a star ingredient in cocktails and an exclusive masterclass with Alsace producer Domaine Zind Humbrecht. The event takes place Monday 13 February from 10am to 5pm at RIBA, London. To secure your place RSVP to events@gbuk.es or see the Gonzalez Byass UK website here.


Simon Smallwood MW 1937 - 2016

The Institute extends its thoughts and deepest wishes to Simon’s family after his sad passing in December. Simon became a Master of Wine in 1970. He was born in Sydney, Australia, and always thought he was the first Australian passport holder to become an MW. He joined Harvey’s of Bristol after Cambridge in 1958 and was sent by them to UC Davis to work under Professor Harold Berg, and then to Jerez to look after the stability of the sherry that was being sent to Harvey’s. He later joined Peter Dominic as a product controller, and in 1977, left to become a self-employed partner in a wine merchant in Billericay and then in Bath. Simon became a consultant in 1982, and worked with Woolley & Wallis, a firm of auctioneers in Salisbury, until his retirement.

Here, John Salvi MW and Sarah Morphew Stephen MW share some memories of Simon.

John Salvi MW: "Simon and I passed the Master of Wine exam the same year so we spent a lot of time swatting together whenever we could. I had got to know him well, as through my close friendship with Martin Bamford MW, I was attached to the ‘Harvey Gang’. This comprised several persons who would become Masters of Wine: Bamford, Robin Don MW, Ronnie Hicks MW, myself and Smallwood. 

We took short exotic Easter trips to France to eat at one of the great 3 star Michelin restaurants and Simon was particularly keen on the famous Tour d’Argent. Martin Bamford had used his title “Baron von Sederholm” to book the table at short notice. Edgar Hibbert (another much loved member of the group, but not an MW) had created confusion by trying to add some “morilles à la crème” into the middle of a well-chosen meal, but Simon reasoned with him so elegantly, intelligently and yet forcefully that not only did he withdraw the order but an American couple at a nearby table were so impressed that they asked the head waiter who we were and on being informed that we were the table of Baron von Sederholm sent us over a bottle of Krug 61 with their compliments. Simon was very popular indeed." 

Sarah Morphew Stephen MW: "Simon was probably the most uniquely talented friend I have ever known. Becoming an MW was a reflection of his dedicated desire to achieve perfection in all his pursuits.

I first met him when I joined Harvey’s in 1962 and later caught up with him again when he was with Peter Dominic. He, with others, was a major contributor to their successful wine magazine Wine Mine, and later the team produced a superb book for budding wine trade salesmen called “Off the Shelf” which became the bible for wine novices through its simple portrayal of the salient facts needed before being launched into selling wine. In 1968 he married Valerie, by which time takeovers meant that he was working for IDV in York Gate. We both passed the MW exam in 1970 together with Julian Brind MW, Michael Cliff MW, Phillip Goodband MW, Ian Jamieson MW and John Salvi MW.

After his retirement he pursued his love of cabinet making and wood-turning, frequently repairing priceless antiques, particularly if it involved repair of marquetry or fine carving work. This fuelled his love of Ornamental Wood Turning which justified getting the giant lathe into their basement in Bath. About 5 years ago he was a major contributor to a Bath exhibition of exquisitely turned miniature boxes, enhanced by his deep knowledge of hardwoods from around the world. He also managed miraculously to get a huge old printing press into the cellar and became an accomplished letter-press printer.

Over the last few years he and Valerie have hosted OTT (Over the Top) dinners where they drank “legendary wines” with their oldest, closest friends in the wine trade. And how appropriate that he died on the night of the Super Moon, a phenomenon which he understood well with his knowledge of astronomy, just one of the many interests that he studied in depth and kept in his remarkable and varied storehouse of knowledge."



Copyright 2017 The Institute of Masters of Wine