It was a bittersweet seminar in Adelaide for me, in many ways, not least because it was my last seminar as co-coordinator with the lovely Andrea Pritzker MW (who will continue in the role another year with incoming coordinator Dr. Edward Ragg MW and our excellent Australasian organiser Sarah Bradshaw). It was also the final MW educational seminar under the aegis of Olly Chapman – who was fared well at the final dinner. He will be greatly missed. As a six day seminar, we have both stage one and stage two students, spread across four rooms at the National Wine Centre, including a record proportion of stage ones this year – nearly half of the entire student body!
We were fortunate to have, throughout the week, a rotating roster of a diverse group of MWs; David Allen MW, Dr. Steve Charters MW, Neil Hadley MW, Richard Hemming MW, Dr. Brendan Jansen MW, Emma Jenkins MW, David Le Mire MW, Peter Marks MW, Caro Maurer MW, Robert MacCulloch MW, Andrea Pritker MW, Dr. Edward Ragg MW, Philip Reedman MW, Jane Skilton MW and Fongyee Walker MW. The team of volunteers giving up their time and expertise has always remained a lynchpin of the IMW’s spirit and character – Adelaide 2019 distilled that spirit to a fine point.
Richard, Caro and myself used the Adelaide seminar as a testbed for the now universally adopted new system of providing feedback for the practical sessions, and we also did some work on the theory/essay writing presentations which Victoria Burt MW, Caro Maurer MW and Rod Smith MW put together for the stage one students. We were treated to three focus tasting masterclasses; Caro presented wines from the VDP, Fongyee and Edward revealed some new developments in Chinese wine, while Andrea and myself held a masterclass on the new Burgundy laws governing the use of GDs for the regional appellations. Emma Jenkins organised a walk-around tasting of the Air New Zealand Fine Wines of NZ list for the evening when the MWs gave feedback to students on their mock exams. Wine Australia, who had presented a viticultural masterclass with four esteemed Australian viticulturists from across the nation, also put on a lovely dinner of great Australian classic wines in the Botanic Gardens Restaurant, right beside the National Wine Centre.
Another bittersweet moment was the field trip when we took the 55 students to the Adelaide Hills. We started at Shaw & Smith vineyard in the morning before carrying on further to Anderson Hill at Lenswood for the afternoon where Golding Wines, Henschke, Pike & Joyce, Turon Wines and Anderson Hill put on a masterclass to introduce us to the special character of Lenswood wines. This was only a month before the devastating Cudlee Creek bush fire would wipe out a heartbreaking amount of vineyards, buildings and wines which we tasted. This was not the only evidence of climate disaster we experienced – on the Wednesday of the seminar, temperatures in Adelaide soared from 26ºC to 42ºC, causing spontaneous bushfires around South Australia. We awoke on Thursday morning to a city shrouded in thick black smoke and the heavy smell of bushfires. We later discovered that this was due to fires in the city’s many parks as well as the surrounding areas.
I hold by the belief that participating in the educational seminars is one of the most rewarding and authentic experiences in the Institute, and I will greatly miss the opportunity to work with these fantastic people in Adelaide, but I’m most excited to see what Edward and Andrea organise for this year’s seminar.