Sophie Parker-Thomson MW wins the Quinta Do Noval Award
New Zealander Sophie Parker-Thomson MW has won the prestigious Quinta do Noval Award 2021, announced at this week’s IMW ceremony in the historic Vintners Hall, London. The prize is given to the best research paper (RP) by a new MW and judged by Christian Seely, managing director of AXA Millesimes, Quinta do Noval’s owners.
She wins a cheque for £1000, a framed print of Quinta do Noval, a trip to the iconic property in the Douro, and a case of wines and ports – including Noval’s fabled Nacional Vintage.
Christian Seely commented afterwards: “This was an excellent piece of research. At first sight, the very rigorous scientific approach seemed somewhat alarming, but it turned out to be compulsive reading, fascinating, with some original insights and thought-provoking ideas. Extremely well researched and rigorously argued, I thought it was outstandingly good, and for me was without question the best of the papers submitted.”
Sophie could not travel to London for the ceremony in person but expressed her delight in winning the award via a video link from her home in Marlborough. Sophie said: ‘I am overwhelmed, and so grateful to receive the Quinta do Noval Award. This was a daunting paper to research and write but the significant public interest element and importance of this topic to the industry was undeniable. I am truly honoured to have my RP recognised in this way. My thanks to Christian Seely and AXA Millesimes for encouraging excellence in wine research, and I am so excited to experience the magnificent Quinta do Noval in person as part of my prize.’
Raised in New Zealand’s Gisborne and Central Otago wine regions, Sophie is a wine producer and consultant. Originally a lawyer, she felt the pullback to the wine industry when she moved to Marlborough for the 2011 harvest. In 2013, Sophie and her husband Matt founded premium wine venture, Blank Canvas, crafting small-batch fine wines from exceptional single vineyard sites. Their consultancy, Lock, Stock and Barrel, offers comprehensive wine industry services from vine to bottle. Sophie is a zealous advocate of the quality and sub-regional diversity of New Zealand, sitting on both the Appellation Marlborough Wine (AMW) committee and the Gimblett Gravels® Winegrowers Association executive.
The RP is the final stage of the Master of Wine exam. It is an individual project on a topic chosen by the MW student, resulting in work between 6,000 and 10,000 words. Sophie’s winning RP, What is the relationship between the use of Sulphur Dioxide and Biogenic Amine levels in wine? is available to download from the IMW website.
NB The IMW’s ceremony normally occurs in November each year, but the global pandemic forced a cancellation, meaning an additional event was required. The ceremony on 23 March welcomed both 2020 and 2021 Masters of Wine and presented individual prizes to the 2021 vintage. The IMW will announce the 2022 Quinta do Noval Award winner at the November awards ceremony.
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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 uphold the highest standards of commercial conduct within the industry. Today, there are 415 Masters of Wine working in 30 countries. The membership encompasses winemakers, sommeliers, buyers, journalists, shippers, consultants, viticulturalists, academics, educators and more. There are 307 students from 36 countries in the 2022-23 MW study programme. The IMW works with 34 supporters and two research and industry associates, who help promote the IMW’s mission. The five principal supporters are Austrian Wine, AXA Millésimes, Constellation Brands, the Madame Bollinger Foundation, and Waitrose and Partners.