MW study programme seminar: Odney

Annette Scarfe MW

At noon on the 9 February 68 students from 17 countries arrived at the Odney Club, Cookham for the last of the stage 2 European seminars. After welcome speeches and introductions, the seminar commenced with the Theory Chair Neil Tully MW giving tips on ‘How to pass the theory’ exam. The rest of the afternoon revolved around the ‘Back in the saddle’ tasting of six wines. For the first time the 4 session rooms combined the full programme and practical only (PO) students together.

Morning sessions for the next four days were 12 wine tastings led by MWs. On Saturday afternoon we were joined by Matthew Stubbs MW, who lead a session on ‘How to pass the practical’. This was followed by an enthusiastic and lively presentation from Tim Jackson MW (who passed in 2017), on how he approached the research paper (RP). After a short break all students joined together for a fascinating and detailed Sparkling tasting by Ying Hsien Tan MW demonstrating how different house styles are achieved and the impact of different disgorgement dates. While the students were enjoying this splendid tasting, a group of ever-reliable MWs were outside grappling with Ying’s decanting process, and his specific pouring timelines and guidelines! Thank you to those assisting! In total 14 wines were served blind almost all of which had been generously sponsored.

The day ended with three consecutive activities, a blind tasting, feedback on two wines from the morning and a fascinating discussion led by Sarah Knowles MW on ‘Current and future trends’ with analysis and data from The Wine Society.

The mock exam took place on Sunday morning. The afternoon started with Elizabeth Gabay MW holding a focused tasting on Rosé. Later Tim Jackson MW led a paper 4 lecture and Yiannis Karakassis MW bought to life the ‘dry’ topic of soil with a tasting of Greek wines from different soil types. The resident MWs were disappointed to miss these tastings: they were all busy marking papers for the PO group in order to meet the objective of giving 30 minutes of one-on-one feedback to each PO student within 7 hours of completing their exam! An informal, optional, walk-around blind tasting session ended the day, giving candidates the choice of sleeping, working or exercising if they preferred.

Monday afternoon had several simultaneous activities: the full programme students attended a theory paper 2 session run by Richard Hemming MW, a walk-around tasting of VDP Riesling and a mock feedback session. The PO group was treated to a vertical tasting of Angelus led by Matthew Hemming MW. For the final session of the day we were joined by Caroline Gilby MW and Simon Thorpe MW for a live video feedback session led by Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW on papers 3 and 4. On Monday evening, all the MWs, weary from marking, headed to the local Cookham curry house.


On Tuesday afternoon Anne Krebiehl MW led an informative tasting on VDP Riesling whilst Richard Hemming MW, Ying Hsien Tan MW and Cathy Van Zyl MW ran a paper 5 session. Tuesday evening was the gala dinner where we were joined by Chairman Jane Masters MW and Penny Richards: a fun, relaxing evening was had by all.


On Wednesday morning we went to Bothy Vineyard in Oxfordshire for our pruning session. It was bitterly cold, although thankfully not raining this year. Thanks go to Sian Liwicki for making this possible and to Ed Mitcham for pruning guidance and interesting facts for theory-thirsty candidates. The seminar ended with a pub lunch at the Dog House with a tasting of the red and white wines of Bothy vineyard.

In total 19 MWs participated: thanks also go to Sam Caporn MW, Philip Harden MW and Demetri Walters MW. The Odney seminar would not have been possible without the help of Matthew Hemming MW (PO coordinator) and of course the IMW executive team: Olly, Robyn and Angus – a big thank you to you all, and to all the students that made the seminar so enjoyable.


I walked out of the gates at Odney with some sadness: this was my last year running the seminar, but I will certainly still be involved with student education.

Annette Scarfe MW
27 February 2018