Tasting sessions, theory lectures and never to forget: fun with both. The Stage 1 students managed successfully to get all of this out of their residential Seminar in Rust.
Rust – always a quiet little town with not much distraction in January – presented itself in full beauty: The Neusiedlersee frozen, some sunny days with a bright blue sky, some snowflakes inbetween and very cold temperatures hitting the minus 14 Celsius at night. So cold that the warnings of the first day became redundant after a while and some students risked to test the strength of the ice before sitting down in front of their 12 glasses in the morning at the Weinakademie.
It is not exaggerated to say that the Austrian Weinakademie is an ideal venue for the purposes of a residential Seminar: Three rooms made it possible to split the 41 students from all over the world in three groups for the tastings as well as the theory sessions, each session guided by two MWs. The team of the Weinakademie added to smooth processes, without their tremendous work a Seminar like this would not be possible. The glasses have been manually polished after every tasting by two marvellous ladies: Kati and Silvia. Christian has received all the wines and stored them for us. Joachim was helping in every thinkable and unthinkable situation, rebooting the Wi-Fi as well as copying and printing the tasting papers of the students for the feedback.
The face to face feedback has been extended to two sessions for the first time. There was a personal feedback for every single student already after the first 12 wine paper to give a general guidance regarding the style of the notes. And on the last day every single student got feedback on a 12 wine mock for a minimum of 30 minutes by an MW. This would not have been possible without the impressive work force of 14 MWs teaching and marking – donating their time and their engagement. And their knowledge. Like Lenka Sedlackova MW who gave an intense and interesting introduction into the current scene of Cava. Or Eran Pick MW who compared wines from warm and cool climates. This was not only exciting for the students but as well for the attending MWs who are always eager to learn.
And there was more to learn for all of us: Jean-Guillaume Prats, President and CEO of Estates and Wines at Moët Hennessy, compared wine tradition and innovation in an exciting lecture. And Professor Monika Christmann, president of OIV and head of the Institute of Oenology in Geisenheim updated us all in the newest facts and trends in winemaking.
The head full of facts, the students have been able to add the practical impressions in the evenings. Pepi Schuller MW, our gentile host, arranged tastings and visits at local wineries, he invited wineries from all over Austria to present their wines, he organised once again the famous pruning day, this year with the Pannonian wineries after an introduction into the gentle pruning. But still, it was very courageous of famous wineries such as Gernot Heinrich or Claus Preisinger to let the students prune their vines. The pruning was followed by a panel tasting with great reds of Austria at Umathum winery and great whites of the Leithaberg appellation. Two further highlights: the evening as Schloss Esterhazy and the final tasting at Palais Coburg in Vienna before the departure.
Traditionally the last night was dedicated to the Gala dinner, this time we had the hotel for ourselves, the firefighters of Rust have postponed their annual ball which usually took place in the room next to us. But the students didn’t care that much: They opened their own dance floor in the basement. And there were rumours at the departure at 8am at the next morning that some have not taken the detour through the bed on their way to the bus. Studies and fun – that definitely was the mixture in Rust this year.