On the eve of Chinese New Year over 70 students from 24 countries arrived at the Odney Club Cookham for the first of the 2nd Year European seminars. The course was one day longer this year, which brought mixed feelings for candidates and MWs alike! Ultimately the extra day was advantageous for the majority as, instead of commencing with the ‘dreaded’ 12 wine white paper, the morning session was more relaxed with a 6 wine tasting to get back in the saddle. Several candidates later said “This is a great idea, I was still looking for my horse for the first 3 wines!”.
We were joined by a Phil Tuck MW and Neil Tully MW to give direction on both practical and theory papers. Neil shared insights, such as that candidates for whom English was not their first language tended to have a higher success rate in the theory exams. The afternoon revolved around three theory sessions run simultaneously by Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW, Richard Hemming MW and Rod Smith MW who tirelessly repeated each session three times to facilitate smaller groups. The day had a sweet end, with Demetri Walters MW holding a blind tasting on sweet wines from around the world. Candidates had to group the wines according to production method: ice wine, botrytis, appassimento/dried and fortified.
Morning sessions for the rest of the week were 12 wine tastings led by MWs, with external speakers joining in the afternoon for specialised sessions. On Sunday afternoon each candidate received one-on-one feedback on two wines from the morning session and Lenka Sedlackova MW held an interesting Cava focus tasing.
Monday morning was the mock exam and in the afternoon Anne Krebiehl MW presented insights on her dissertation topic and held a delightful tasting of German Pinot Noirs, as well as an informative session on communicating clearly. The resident MWs were disappointed to miss this: they were busy marking papers for the Practical Only group (PO) in order to meet the objective of giving 30 minutes of one-on-one feedback to each PO student within seven hours of completing their exam! The full programme candidates joined a Research Paper session with Sheri Sauter-Morano MW who had braved a series of broken airplanes to join us! An informal, optional walk around blind tasting session ended the day, giving candidates the option of sleeping, working or exercising if they preferred.
Tuesday afternoon, for the first time, Plumpton College came to us, thus avoiding long coach journeys for students and MWs. Sarah Midgley and Tony Milanowski ran fascinating sessions on Sensory analysis: Acids, residual sugar and role of alcohol on perception of aromas and Sparkling – understanding the organoleptic effects on dosage amounts and different ingredients. They kindly ran each session four times in total, to facilitate smaller groups whilst allowing one group to receive their mock exam feedback. There was then an optional walk around tasting of English wines.
Wednesday afternoon saw Julia Trustam Eve, of English Wine Growers and Henry Laithwaite join us. Henry focused on answering several Paper 1 and 2 questions whilst Julia focused on Paper 4 questions. The evening was our BYO Gala dinner that was attended by Penny Richards and Jane Masters MW, and was enjoyed by all.
On Thursday morning we went to the Harrow and Hope, in driving rain(!) for our pruning session. Henry Laithwaite and his team provided plenty of good examples for theory-thirsty candidates.
In total 20 MWs participated and thanks also go to: Sam Caporn MW, James Davis MW, Natasha Hughes MW, Laura Jewell MW, Justin Knock MW and Ying Tan MW. The Odney Seminar would not have been possible without the help of Matthew Hemming MW (PO coordinator) and Phil Reedman MW (Theory Only coordinator) and of course the IMW office, especially Marianne. A big thank you to you all.