Newsletter November 2016


Jane Masters.pngNovember is one of the most important months in our Master of Wine Calendar. On 9 November 2016 we officially welcome 18 new Masters of Wine coming from far and wide including Asia, India and Eastern Europe as Members to our Institute. On the night we will also be toasting Masters of Wine David Burns MW and Derek Stuart Todd MW who are celebrating their Diamond Jubilee and Dick Bowes MW, Ronnie Hicks MW and Robin Walters MW their Golden Jubilee. Many congratulations to all.

The day starts with our Annual Claret tasting showing over 90 Bordeaux Chateaux from the 2012 vintage. This hugely popular tasting will be replicated in San Francisco and Sydney next year. Twenty two of the Institute’s Supporters are travelling to be with us and I look forward to discussing with them what more we can do together. I would like to thank Master Vintner Robert Rolls for the use of the fabulous Vintners' Hall which makes the event even more special and the staff who work hard with our team to ensure the day runs smoothly.

The 2016-17 Seminar season kicks off this month with the first residential
Seminar in Australia. It will be followed by Austria and United States in January, and UK and France in February. With more students than ever before, over 70 MWs organising and participating in the Seminars and over 90 MWs acting as Mentors, the energy, enthusiasm and sharing of knowledge is what makes the Institute unique and very special. Thank you to everyone involved.

Finally, work has started in our new office and is on track for us to move in by the end of the year. This will give us a fantastic purpose-designed facility to do even more.

Jane Masters MW

 Study Programme


2016-17 MW Student update

Registration for the 2016-17 academic year has closed and we have welcomed a record number of students to the Study Programme. 106 students are registered for Stage 1 of the programme (compared to 93 for 2015-16) and 205 for Stage 2 (compared to 189 for 2015-16). 35 candidates are now in the Research Paper stage, meaning we have a total of 346 students this year. These higher student numbers come despite an increased rigour with the IMW admissions process and a continued application of the more stringent Stage 1 Assessment progression requirements. As an example, even where an applicant may have reached the required level in the admissions examination, if they did not meet the trade experience or qualification requirements, they were not offered a place. This year, over 170 applications were received, with 88 being accepted to join the programme. The remaining Stage 1 students are those repeating this stage.

The academic year has started for all students, with Course Days taking place in London and North America, assignments being submitted by all Stage 1 and Stage 2 students, Research Paper Proposals due shortly from RP candidates and the first student Seminar of the academic session taking place in Adelaide in November.

A range of funding opportunities and scholarships have been made available to students this year, including a North America student fee scholarship offered by the Napa Wine Academy and a New Zealand Family of XII scholarship which includes an all expenses visit to New Zealand in February. A first ever student trip to Chile, hosted by Santa Rita Estates and Errazuriz and led by Richard Bampfield MW is taking place in early November. Whilst in Chile, we will host an Information Session to introduce the Institute and the Study Programme to potential students based in Chile. Further Information Sessions are being held in Australia, in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney in late November, full details of all sessions can be found here.

The 2016 Examiners’ reports are now available in the student area of the website, under the ‘Examination’ tab. We have also uploaded the Theory, Practical and RP Panel Chair feedback videos, under the ‘Examination feedback’ tab. The individual Theory Paper Chair videos (Papers 1 to 5) will be made available in the next few weeks.

Two newly developed guides for preparing for Practical and Theory Exams are available to download from the Study Programme page of the student area of the website. These should be read in conjunction with the Examiners’ reports. To complement the Practical guideline, a video filmed at a Stage 1 Course Day in Napa has been added to the student area, of Peter Marks MW delivering a presentation which introduces the MW Practical Exam. It can be viewed here. 

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Annual Claret Tasting 2016, 9 November 2016, London

claret - news.pngThere are just a few tickets left for the Annual Claret Tasting, at Vintners' Hall. This year we will be showcasing wines from the 2012 Vintage of the Grands Crus Classés, properties of the Medoc, including First Growths and their right bank equivalents. With many Chateaux releasing less wine en primeur year on year, our annual walk around tasting gains commercial relevance in interesting times for the Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé market. This year is of particular significance because the 2012s have shown increasingly well in bottle and their pricing looks highly attractive when placed in the context of the recent campaign for the 2015s. As ever, this event will provide a valuable opportunity to try most of Bordeaux's classed growths side by side. There are a few tickets left for the second tasting session at 1230-1400. Tickets are priced £45 for MWs, £55 for MW students and £90 for guests. To reserve a place for the second session, please email Chloe Thompson

Save the date: A version of this tasting will also take place on 25 January 2017 in San Francisco, USA and 30 April 2017 at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Further details for both will be released soon. 


Awards Ceremony and Reception, 9 November 2016, London

awards 2Following the Annual Claret Tasting the newest Members will be formally welcomed to the IMW at the Awards Ceremony on 9 November 2016. Taking place at Vintners' Hall, London, the evening starts promptly at 1730 with a glass or two of Bollinger and will be followed by the Awards Ceremony at 1800. This year we will not only be welcoming the new MWs, but will also celebrate the 60th anniversaries of two MWs, and 50th anniversaries of three MWs. During the ceremony we will be presenting prizes to new MWs who have shone in particular parts of the MW Examination. Following the ceremony there will be an evening drinks reception with wines and canapes, finishing at 8pm. For those who have confirmed their attendance and wish to continue the celebrations into the evening, we have compiled a list of restaurants nearby to Vintners' Hall which may be useful, available here.


Luxury Sparkling Wines Tasting – 29 November 2016, London

Luxury Sparkling Wines Tasting (2).pngThe Sparkling Wine sector is clearly one that is growing in importance. In the UK alone, the Sparkling Wine category (excluding Champagne) is now worth over £1 billion. But what of the quality levels? Is there a place for high-end Sparkling Wine catering to the luxury market? Or is that niche still reserved for Champagne only? Before the Christmas parties begin, this timely event offers you the opportunity to make up your own mind. Come and taste up to 50 top-end traditional method Sparkling Wines, sourced from the main national producers, France, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, England, and the USA. The wines will be presented in style categories and tasted entirely blind. Some Champagne ringers may be inserted to heighten the interest! Tickets are £35 for MWs, £45 for MW students and £55 for guests. To register your place contact Chloe Thompson.


American Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting, 26 January 2017, London

american_cab 2Following the successful American Cabernet Sauvignon tasting that was held earlier this year in San Francisco, the Institute of Masters of Wine is thrilled to be able to replicate this tasting in London. The selection will include wines from many outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons from across North America including, but not limited to, California, Washington, Virginia, Texas and British Columbia and Ontario, Canada. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to taste a wide range of the top American Cabernet Sauvignon wines. For more information email Chloe Thompson.




Minerality seminar reviews

Newsletter Minerality new (3).pngThe IMW seminar on Minerality took place in October. Sally Easton MW, the lead organiser of the seminar, and Dermot Nolan MW give their take on the seminar, both on the Events and Trips blog here. Jancis Robinson MW also covered the seminar in her FT column here. The video from the seminar will be available on the website soon.



Tim Atkin MW: Nederburg Auction 2016 guest speaker

Tim Atkin Tim Atkin MW was the keynote speaker at this year’s Nederburg Auction. On announcing the appointment, the Nederburg Auction said: "The internationally followed wine writer and judge has served as a member and co-leader of the Nederburg Auction selection panel for several years. During this time, he cemented his reputation as a practical and sensible judge, as being exceptionally knowledgeable about South African wine – and not shy to vigorously defend his annual choices for inclusion or exclusion of wines in the Auction line-up. This willingness to speak his mind will be very much in the foreground during his keynote address at the Auction when he tackles the sometimes controversial subject of South African wine heritage: whether it is a boon or burden to the local industry, and to what extent South African producers should depend on past successes to ensure icon wines in the future." Members can read the full text of Tim's speech from the evening here

Rosemary George MW: The wines of Faugères

Rosemary GeorgeRosemary George MW has a newly published book, The wines of Faugères, which is a completely up-to-date guide to the wines of this remarkably compact and homogeneous area, covering just seven villages and a couple of hamlets. The wines of Faugères covers the history, geography and climate of the region, as well as its grape varieties and viticulture, before profiling the individual producers and their wines. It ends with an indispensable assessment of vintages going back to the creation of the appellation, and appendices that cover production figures by vintage, dates of the bans de vendanges, climatic data, a breakdown of grape varieties for 2016 and an appellation summary. As Rosemary says, “The wines of Faugères … always have a distinctive freshness which places them amongst the finest of the Languedoc.” Faugères’ wines, currently little known outside of France, are set to become the next global wine discovery, and Rosemary George’s The wines of Faugères is the most up-to-date and authoritative guide to this beautiful region and its fascinating wines.

Eric Hemer MW: Leading a 'superteam' of wine educators

hemer.pngAmerican drinks giant Southern Glazer’s has announced the creation of ‘the industry’s first national wine team’ to educate and certify the company’s employees across the US. The team, which includes one of only 23 female Master Sommeliers in the world, is made up of eight of the industry’s most highly-trained experts who hold qualifications including Master Sommelier, Master of Wine or Certified Wine Educator. The new national ‘superteam‘ of wine educators is being led by Eric Hemer MW, MS, CWE, who is senior vice-president and Corporate Director of Wine Education for Southern Glazer’s. Eric says: “Exceptional education is a point of differentiation at Southern Glazer’s and what makes us the best at what we do in the industry. Our new wine education team will help ensure that we have the most knowledgeable sales organisation in the marketplace.” Read more here


Konstantinos Lazarakis MW: President of the Thessaloniki International Wine & Spirits Competition

Konstantinos Lazarakis Congratulations to Konstantinos Lazarakis MW, who was very recently appointed President of the Thessaloniki International Wine & Spirits Competition, Greece’s only Wine & Spirit Competition, organised by the Wine Producers Association of the Northern Greece Vineyard. Concurrently with the Competition, Konstantinos will be introducing a series of afternoon Masterclasses, designed to provide judges with an in-depth analysis of the current state of Greek wine production. Although places for the 2017 competition (taking place in Thessaloniki, 21-23 February) are already allocated, Konstantinos would be pleased to hear from anyone interested in future competitions. Contact Konstantinos by email here.



Bill Nesto MW: Chianti Classico: The Search for Tuscany's Noblest Wine

nesto.pngIn August we informed Members that Bill Nesto MW and his wife Frances Di Savino have written their second book: Chianti Classico: The Search for Tuscany's Noblest Wine. The book has now been published and reviews are available to read from Walter Speller, available behind the paywall at, The Wine Economist and the Boston Globe. Walter Speller says "Nesto and Di Savino are brilliant historic investigators (with Di Savino turning it into beautiful prose) who have unearthed a wealth of information from the many archives they studied in Florence and throughout Chianti Classico, notably those of Barone Ricasoli kept at Castello di Brolio in Gaiole. Read more behind the paywall at here.


Cathy van Zyl MW: The making of South African iconic wine guide

CVZ1Cathy van Zyl MW's 37th edition of Platter’s South African Wine Guide will be launched at a ceremony later this month. At the ceremony, the wines achieving its highest accolade, 5- star rating, will be announced. "Leading up to this event is a process that begins in May when well over 900 producers of wine, sherry-style wine, brandy and husk spirit in Platter’s database are invited to enter their products for review- a theoretical total of more than 8,000 individual labels. The pace picks up towards the end of June when the team of tasters is mobilised, and reaches its apogee for the tasters and logistics team at the end of August, when the Wines of the Year tasting is held to select the top performers. It’s not over for the publisher, editor, associate editors, fact checker, proof readers and layout specialist, however - they must endure another month of long days and lost weekends fine-tuning the text and verifying the myriad details the Guide contains: vintages, varieties, blend proportions, wine styles, lees ageing, vinification and maturation details; the list is a long one. The results of the tasters’ work make up the bulk of the guide, with producers and their products listed in an A-Z directory." Read the full article here.


Fine wines fly high

wines fly high 1Producing a fine wine takes time. So too has the creation of the Air New Zealand's inaugural Fine Wines of New Zealand list. The Fine Wines of New Zealand comprises 47 wines, chosen by five Masters of Wine, (Michael Brajkovich MWSam Harrop MW, Alastair Maling MW, Simon Nash MW and Steve Smith MW) and one Master Sommelier (Cameron Douglas). It has taken over eight months to fine tune, during which time the six wine professionals have discussed and tasted more than 130 wines, of all varieties. Air New Zealand Chief Operations Officer Bruce Parton, says the Fine Wine List is the culmination of a plan put into action more than two years ago. “We thought we could do something to really promote the top end of wine in New Zealand. But we wanted to ensure that it was independent from the airline itself.” Hence approaching the MWs and seeking their ideas on just how that could be achieved. Find out more here.


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Wine-Searcher Pro Version Complimentary Offer

winesearcher 2.pngWine-Searcher is offering a complimentary $49 per year Pro Version to all MWs. As well as more prices and merchants to purchase from, the Pro Version includes: reviews, scores and awards for the wine; five years of price, availability and demand history. To claim the offer please send an email to Add MW Pro in the headline, include your First and Last Name and the email you want to use for the log in. You will then be sent the log on instructions.




Winestate Magazine Digital Version Complimentary Copy

winestate (2).pngWinestate Magazine are kindly offering all Members and students a complimentary digital copy of the latest magazine. This is the same issue as the printed version that was released recently in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, and digitally via Zinio and the Hospitality Directory, as well as through major international airlines. Click here to read your complimentary copy.



The 2016 harvest at Dourthe, a great vintage to come?

dourthe 1The 2016 harvest has just come to a close in the Dourthe (a Major Supporter of the Institute) vineyards located in Bordeaux’s major wine-producing areas on the Right and Left Bank alike. Once again, the year has not been without its fair share of surprises, keeping us constantly on our toes and ready to adapt accordingly. The new and exciting challenge this year was to bring out the very best of such diverse terroirs while battling with Nature’s capricious ways and adapting in every location to the constantly unpredictable and unprecedented weather conditions. All these factors are currently working their magic to create a range of wines - dry whites, red, rosés and even sweet wines - all revealing remarkable potential. Now, through carefully tailored winemaking and attentive ageing in the months to come, we must ensure the wines truly shine in all our Chateaux. Each harvest is a new novel, where each chapter is different from previous editions, offering suspense, action, many twists and turns, and always in the hope of a happy ending as we turn the last page. As we put the finishing touches to the final chapter, click here to explore the completed chapters of Dourthe’s 2016 harvest and peruse our vineyards for a complete overview of the Bordeaux region.


Jackson Family Wines celebrates its 2013 Vérité releases

jackson family wines (2).pngJackson Family Wines, a Major Supporter of the Institute, hosted a preview tasting at The Corinthia Hotel in London to celebrate the release of its 2013 Vérité wines; La Muse, La Joie and Le Desir. From the trio, each was given 100 points by Robert Parker. Vintages from 1998-2006 provided a rare opportunity to taste the journey of these iconic California wines. The tasting was also a celebration of 50 years of winemaking by Vérité’s first and only vigneron, Pierre Seillan. The wines of Vérité are the result of a combination of old world experience and new world fruit. Each wine is a distinct blend of unique components harvested from small vineyard blocks, culminating in a meticulously formed union of grape varieties, climate, soil, expression and winemaking technique. Pierre Seillan refers to this methodology as droit du sol, ‘right of the soil’. The vines are grown on no fewer than 32 different soil types, across four different regions: Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley, Chalk Hill and Knights Valley. Each Vérité wine represents a blend of micro-crus from these mountain vineyards.


Viñedo Chadwick 2014: Second Best Wine in the World

In his last report entitled The Top 100 Wines of 2016, international wine critic James Suckling placed Viñedo Chadwick Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 as the second best wine worldwide, above more than 10,000 wines tasted all around the world during 2016. This recognition crowns a most successful year for Viñedo Chadwick, part of Viña Errázuriz, a Supporter of the Institute, as it became the first Chilean wine to achieve a perfect 100 points score last May. In his report, Suckling said, “Perhaps a sign of Chile truly coming of age is our 100-point rating of the 2014 Viñedo Chadwick, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Valle de Maipo. This is a wine that defines the greatness of Chile with a purity, structure, and finesse that competes with the best reds of the world. Chile's first perfect wine and well deserved”.


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21 Club Lunch - by John Casson MW

The 21 Club Lunch was held again at The Oxford & Cambridge Club for the fourth year. Twenty-six Masters of Wine sat down to a three course lunch in the Princess Marie Louise Dining Room following an apéritif of Bollinger Special Cuvée.

Special mention should be made of David Burns MW (1956) and Vincent Larvan MW (1957) as the senior attendees, both overcoming some physical issues to attend; and at the other end of the spectrum Richard Kelley MW and Michael Palij MW for the first eligible year of the 1995 vintage, both of whom left early to go back to work! Ten from the 1970s decade attended, including Sarah Morphew Stephen MW, the Institute’s first female MW in 1970.

Most attendees chose to bring two bottles of their finest and rarest so there was plenty of wine to taste and to drink.  Among the white wines Burgundy was well represented with various Chablis 1er and Grand Cru, and also a fresh McWilliams Hunter Valley Semillon 2005 and a classic Vouvray Sec 1985 from Marc Brédif.  

Claret was represented by Ch La Tour Haut Brion 1982, Ch Lascombes 1990, Ch La Tourette 2002, Ch Chasse Spleen 2005 and Ch Domaine de L’Eglise 2005; also a wine bottled within a few hundred yards at Christopher’s in Ormond Yard, Ch du Colombier Monpelou 1961. Among the red Burgundies were Vougeot 1er Cru 2001 Hudolot-Noellat and Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Les Crots 2006 Domaine des Clos.

Other reds included a fascinating comparison between Leasingham Classic Clare Shiraz 1994, winner of the first Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1998, and Hermitage La Chapelle 1982 Jaboulet, both well preserved in magnums.  From further afield a Martinborough Vineyards Pinot Noir 2002 showed how well New Zealand Pinot can mature, while Paraduxx 1994 and Staglin Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, both from the Napa Valley, still had deep fruit and power.

Dessert wines were a more important category at the 2016 lunch.  A Vouvray 2002 Demi Sec from Domaine Pouvroy, a Tokay 6 Puttynos 1993 and a Winkeler Hasensprung Riesling Auslese 1983 (brought to remind us when Mark Bingley MW had passed the Exam). Bordeaux was represented by Doisy Daene 1996, Lions de Suduiraut 2012 and Ch Yquem 2003.

Altogether the lunch was a most enjoyable reunion.

John Casson MW


Stage 2 MW student becomes a Master Sommelier

Congratulations to Ben Hasko, a Stage 2 MW student based in Australia, who who passed the Master Sommelier Diploma in October. Ben passed all three parts on his first attempt and is awarded the inaugural Dom Ruinart cup and a trip to visit their cellars in Reims. Well done Ben!



Copyright 2017 The Institute of Masters of Wine