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Netherlands gains new Master of Wine

The Institute of Masters of Wine is delighted to announce that, following the successful submission of his dissertation, Cees van Casteren is now a Master of Wine.

Cees becomes only the second Dutch person to achieve the world’s most prestigious wine title. His success means that there are now 301 Masters of Wine in the world, from 23 different countries.

Cees said “I am both relieved and happy to be the second person from my country to achieve this prestigious qualification. Over the years, the interest in my pursuit of the Master of Wine title has been enormous. I am most thankful to my friends and family, who have supported me during this journey.”

Cees van Casteren started writing about wine in 2004. Since then he has written ten books and some 300 articles on wine and food. He is a noted wine educator in the Netherlands through his involvement with the partnership Liquid Assets, and also runs his own independent wine consultancy and training business. Cees has twice been named Dutch Vinologist of the Year. He is based in Venray, in the south of the Netherlands, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Outside wine, his interests are travel, golf and gastronomy.

Jean Michel Valette MW, Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Cees into the global Master of Wine family. His hard work and persistence have really paid off. I know that he will be an asset to the Institute and the broader wine trade in the Netherlands and beyond. We have several Dutch students in the Institute’s study programme, so I’m sure there won’t be a long wait before we have our next MWs in Holland.”

The subject of Cees’ dissertation was “An Examination of Chenin Blanc as the Potential Reference Wine of South Africa”. The dissertation is the third part of the Master of Wine exam, and follows the Theory and Practical examinations.

The Institute of Masters of Wine congratulates Cees on behalf of all its members worldwide, and looks forward to honouring his achievement at the Annual Reception in London in 2013.

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Canadian winner for 2012 Yalumba Scholarship

The Institute of Masters of Wine and Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, are delighted to announce that Elsa McDonald is the winner of the 2012 Yalumba Scholarship.

This generous scholarship is awarded annually to one second-year student in the Institute’s study programme who is based outside Australia or New Zealand. It enables the winner to attend the Institute’s annual Australasian residential seminar in Adelaide and to spend a week visiting the Yalumba vineyards, nursery and winery near Angaston.

Elsa McDonald was born in Scotland, and moved to Canada at the age of five. In 2003 she left a career in Management Consultancy to pursue her passion for wine via a series of regional wine courses in France and the WSET Diploma. Elsa is currently Director of the Constellation Brands Academy of Wine for Canada, and sits on the board of directors for the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. When she isn’t studying, Elsa loves the outdoors and spends her time canoeing, hiking, or most often just eating al fresco.

Elsa said: “I am absolutely thrilled with the opportunity to study and explore with Yalumba. It’s very timely as Australia’s regional diversity and distinctions are coming to the forefront in the Canadian market.”

Applicants for this year’s scholarship were asked to pen an essay in response to the concept of ‘Masttige’ and diminishing brand image. In 1,000 words, entrants had to explore and discuss the concept of high volume and high value being mutually exclusive (or not), with both actual examples and their own insights into the phenomenon.

This year the competition for the scholarship was more close-fought than ever before. Institute student Patrick Schmitt, who is editor of The Drinks Business magazine, also received honourable mention for his submission.

There are plans afoot for Patrick to visit Yalumba too before his Master of Wine exam in June next year.

Fifth generation Yalumba proprietor Robert Hill Smith said: “We are proud to be associated with The Institute of Masters of Wine and it is important to me that Yalumba continues to support this valuable programme. Winery experience remains an integral factor in wine education and one that we are committed to sharing with the wider wine community.

He continued, “Elsa will have the rare opportunity to immerse herself alongside our experienced viti and vini teams and absorb and question our philosophies and techniques. Our team, their knowledge and resources will be at Elsa’s disposal for the duration of her visit and this is a great opportunity for her to drill down into the real nuts and bolts of winery life and gain focussed, on-ground experience’’.

Jean-Michel Valette MW, Chairman of the Institute, said: “Congratulations to Elsa on her success and thanks again to the team at Yalumba for providing this wonderful learning opportunity to one of our students. Bringing wine communities together and facilitating the exchange of knowledge is at the heart of what the Institute does. This scholarship embodies that ethos.”

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Awards for new Masters of Wine at Annual Reception

The Institute of Masters of Wine held its Annual Reception and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday evening at Vintners’ Hall in the City of London.

 The largest annual gathering of Masters of Wine came together from all over the world to celebrate a successful year in the life of the Institute, and to honour new Masters of Wine Catriona Felstead MW, Annette Scarfe MW, and Andreas Wickhoff MW.
Jean-Michel Valette MW, Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine, said:
“For me, this has always been the most special day in the Institute’s calendar.  It’s a great joy to come together to welcome new members, reward excellence, and celebrate our stalwarts.  It’s particularly appropriate that all of the day’s celebrations took place this year in Vintners’ Hall, which is in a sense the spiritual home of the Institute.”
The awards, each of which is sponsored by a supporter of the Institute, are given in recognition of excellence in a particular area of the Master of Wine exam.
The Villa Maria Award is awarded to the new Master of Wine who showed outstanding knowledge and understanding of viticulture in their exams.  Philip Tuck MW of Hatch Mansfield, representing Villa Maria, presented the award to Andreas Wickhoff MW.
The Errazuriz Award is for performance in the Business of Wine examination.  Philip Tuck MW presented the award on behalf of Eduardo Chadwick of Viña Errázuriz to Andreas Wickhoff MW.
The Robert Mondavi Winery Award is presented for outstanding performance across all of the Theory papers.  Mark de Vere MW, of Constellation Wines, presented the award to Catriona Felstead MW.
The Bollinger Medal is awarded as recognition of outstanding tasting ability.  Etienne Bizot of the Mme Bollinger Foundation presented the award to Andreas Wickhoff MW.
The Noval Award, sponsored by Quinta da Noval, part of AXA Millésimes, is awarded for the best Dissertation by a new Master of Wine.  Christian Seely,  Managing Director of AXA Millésimes, presented the award to Annette Scarfe MW for her dissertation on Ribera del Duero.
The Institute of Masters of Wine Outstanding Achievement Award, sponsored by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, is awarded to a candidate who was outstanding in all parts of the exam.  Willi Klinger, head of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, presented the award to Andreas Wickhoff MW.
Three Masters of Wine who celebrate their 50th Anniversary this year as members were also recognised for their long service to the Institute and the broader wine trade.  Ian Bamford MW, John Brownsdon MW, and David Peppercorn MW all passed their exams and joined the Institute in 1962.
The day of celebrations began with the Annual Claret Tasting, one of the world’s largest annual retrospective tastings of classed growth Bordeaux wines.
This tasting, which is a traditional highlight of the Institute’s calendar, assembled well over a hundred wines from the 2008 vintage.  All the wines shown were from Grands Crus Classés properties of the Médoc, including the First Growths, or their right bank equivalents from St. Émilion and Pomerol.  A selection of Grands Crus Classés wines from Sauternes and Barsac were also available.
The Master Vintner Michael Cox joined guests for a Champagne reception prior to the Awards Ceremony, and noted in a speech of welcome in the Livery Hall that his grandfather, also a Vintner, had been instrumental in setting up the Institute in 1953.
Following the awards ceremony and reception, the day’s events culminated in a dinner in the Vintners’ Livery Hall, which was attended by the Master Vintner, the Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine, supporters of the Institute, Masters of Wine and their guests, and Institute staff.
(The picture above shows Willi Klinger of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, Annette Scarfe MW, Andreas Wickhoff MW, Catriona Felstead MW, and Jean-Michel Valette MW, Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine.)