Select Page

AXA Millésimes awards 2020 scholarships to five Master of Wine students

AXA Millésimes awards 2020 scholarships to five Master of Wine students

The Institute of Masters of Wine and AXA Millésimes are pleased to announce five international winners of the AXA Millésimes scholarship. The 2020 chosen scholars are Nicoletta Dicova, a Bulgarian journalist/communicator, based in Italy; Cherie Xin Huang, a Napa Valley wine educator from China; Portuguese winemaker Tiago Macena; Fleur Pushack, from London’s Domaine of the Bee; and German Elena Rameder, sommelier at Restaurant Hofmeister, Austria.

The scholarship, now in its twelfth year, gives the winners a unique insight into the portfolio of AXA Millésimes properties in Bordeaux, and beyond.

As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions lift and it is safe to travel, the winning scholars will visit the Medoc, based at Chateau Pichon Baron in Pauillac, as well as neighbouring Château Pibran, and leading 1er Cru Château Suduiraut in Sauternes. During this three day stay in Bordeaux, they will spend time with the winemakers, tour the vineyards and develop their blending skills in the cellars. Concluding this spectacular prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to Quinta do Noval estate in the Douro valley, where the winners will stay in the Quinta house, high above Pinhão, tour the vineyards and taste Quinta do Noval ports and still wines.

The scholarship was open to all stage one and two students in the MW study programme. Entrants were asked to research and write a 1000 word essay on the following highly topical subject, set by AXA Millésimes: Do the Douro Valley’s unfortified dry white wines have the quality potential to become an important part of the future of the region, both in terms of economics and reputation?

It was a challenging competition to judge, as Christian Seely, Managing Director of AXA Millésimes, a principal supporter of the IMW for many years, attests. ‘It was a pleasure to read these essays, which were generally of a very high standard, but the shortlist of winners stood out for the quality of their research and analysis. One entry, in particular, was exceptionally insightful and well written. We now have five clear winners, despite the high quality of the competition, and we look forward to welcoming them to Chateau Pichon Baron and our other properties as soon as it is possible to arrange’.

Adrian Garforth MW, Executive Director of the IMW, said, ‘Congratulations to Nicoletta, Cherie, Tiago, Fleur and Elena. In these incredibly challenging times, it is wonderful to be able to report a good news story and to see the hard work of these five students rewarded through the AXA Millésimes scholarship. The relationship between AXA Millésimes and the IMW is both long-lasting and incredibly close, and we look forward to working with Christian and his team in the coming months as the wine trade moves beyond the coronavirus pandemic.’


For more information contact:
Sarah Kirkpatrick
Head of Marketing, Communications and Membership
Institute of Masters of Wine
+44 (0)207 383 9131

Notes to Editors:

About the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW)
The IMW is a membership organisation with an exceptional international reputation. For almost 70 years, its members – the Masters of Wine (MWs) – have been at the forefront of leadership and expertise in the world of wine. The IMW’s mission is to promote excellence, interaction and learning across all sectors of the global wine community. MWs prove their comprehensive understanding of wine by passing the MW exam, recognised worldwide for its rigour and exacting standards. In addition to passing the exam, members must sign the code of conduct before they are entitled to use the initials MW. This requires them to act with honesty and integrity, and use every opportunity to share their knowledge of wine with others. Today, there are 394 Masters of Wine working in 30 countries. The membership encompasses winemakers, sommeliers, buyers, journalists, shippers, consultants, academics, educators and more. There are 350 students from more than 40 countries in the 2019-2020 MW study programme.

About AXA Millésimes
The vineyard-owning arm of AXA, the French insurance group, was established in the mid-eighties when Claude Bébéar, President of AXA at the time, and a great lover of fine wines, wished to invest in wine properties which had a potential for making great wines. The first purchase, in 1987, comprehended two properties: Château Pichon Baron, in Pauillac, and Domaine de l’Arlot, in Burgundy.  Important investments both in the vineyard and in the cellars were carried out in the years following these purchases. There was then a succession of acquisitions in Bordeaux: Château Pibran in Pauillac (1989), Château Petit-Village in Pomerol (1989 and sold in 2020), and Château Suduiraut in Sauternes (1992).  In that same year, and following the fall of communism in the eastern bloc, AXA Millésimes was able to acquire the historic vineyard of Disznókő in Tokaj. In 1993, Quinta do Noval was purchased, and Christian Seely was appointed Managing Director. At the end of 2000, Christian Seely was appointed Managing Director of the whole AXA Millésimes portfolio, based in Bordeaux. In 2001, AXA Millésimes purchased Château Tour Pibran, the neighbouring vineyard to Château Pibran, thus enlarging the size of the property from 10 to 17 hectares. AXA Millésimes acquired Outpost in Napa Valley in 2018, and in 2019 added the neighbouring Quinta do Passadouro to the Douro portfolio.