Champagne Bollinger welcomes 2021 Madame Bollinger Medal Winner Álvaro Ribalta MW
On Wednesday 5th October 2022, Champagne Bollinger was delighted to welcome the 2021 Institute of Masters of Wine Madame Bollinger Medal winner, Álvaro Ribalta MW, to the House in Aÿ in Champagne. The visit was hosted by Etienne Bizot, President of Groupe Bollinger and Chairman of the Madame Bollinger Foundation.
Not open to visits from the general public, the trip to the House of Bollinger has historically been an important part of the Medal winner’s prize. Álvaro and his family were invited behind the scenes of the great Champagne House to discover the vineyards, history and production methods behind the iconic Bollinger cuvées. Following the visit, a lunch was hosted to honour Álvaro’s achievements accompanied by a tasting of several rare cuvées and the official presentation by Etienne Bizot of the Madame Bollinger Medal.
Originally from Barcelona, Álvaro moved to London in 2006 after completing his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. His wine passion developed over several years, working in restaurants and wine bars in the UK capital. Over the years that followed, Álvaro studied all WSET qualifications, finishing his Diploma in 2014, for which he won the Lustau and Derouet Jameson Scholarships. In 2011, Álvaro completed a master’s degree in engineering management and carried out the final thesis in a wine bottling plant in Veneto, Italy. He has been working for Indigo Wine, Spanish Specialist Importer, since 2014, currently as their Spanish buyer. In addition, Álvaro has launched his own company in Spain in 2022, Massal Selection, a wine importer and distributor as well as an online shop.
Álvaro Ribalta MW said: “Being awarded the Madame Bollinger Medal on the day of my graduation was a great surprise. However, I would have never imagined how exciting and memorable our visit to this historic house would be. My family, friends and I were very warmly welcomed, taken through a very special visit and enjoyed the best hospitality. Our visit to Bollinger will remain as one of the most special days in our lives.”
Etienne Bizot said: “I was delighted to welcome Álvaro in Champagne, and it is always a great honour to meet the next generation of some of the most talented wine tasters in the world. The Madame Bollinger Medal remains a highly prized award and I am very happy that the memory of Madame Bollinger can live on in this way.”
The association between the Madame Bollinger Foundation and the Institute of Masters of Wine dates back over 35 years. Created by Etienne’s father, Christian Bizot, to commemorate the memory of his aunt, Lily Bollinger, The Madame Bollinger Foundation was the original supporter of the IMW in 1987, with the first Madame Bollinger Medal awarded in 1988. The highly prized Medal is presented each year and is awarded for outstanding achievement in the Masters of Wine practical examinations to the candidate with the highest practical exam mark. Today, the Madame Bollinger Foundation remains one of only five Principal Supporters of the IMW.