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The Madame Bollinger Foundation awards the 2021 Madame Bollinger Medal to Álvaro Ribalta MW

The Madame Bollinger Foundation awards the 2021 Madame Bollinger Medal to Álvaro Ribalta MW

Last night, Álvaro Ribalta MW was announced as the 2021 winner of the Madame Bollinger Medal, which is awarded for excellence in tasting and outstanding achievement in the Institute of Masters of Wine practical exams. Álvaro was announced as the winner by Rebecca Gibb MW, the 2015 Madame Bollinger Medal winner, at the annual IMW awards ceremony held at Vintners’ Hall in London.

This year marks the 33rd occasion that the Madame Bollinger Medal has been presented since its inauguration in 1988. Last night the 2020 winner, Heidi Hansen MW, was also presented her award in person as she was unable to attend the ceremony at the end of last year due to the pandemic.

Commenting on the importance of such recognition of achievement in wine education, Etienne Bizot, great-nephew of Madame Bollinger, Chairman of the Madame Bollinger Foundation and President of the Bollinger Family Group (SJB) said; “The “Madame Bollinger Foundation” was launched by my Father, Christian Bizot, at Vintners Hall in 1988. The purpose was to foster quality, education and ethics in all matters relating to wine at an international level and the Institute of Masters of Wine is without question the global reference in the pursuit of wine excellent in education. I am therefore delighted to award the 2021 Madame Bollinger Medal to Álvaro for this great achievement in honour of Madame Bollinger.”

Upon being presented with the award, Álvaro Ribalta MW said; “To pass the MW is an amazing achievement, but to be awarded the Madame Bollinger Medal on your graduation is an absolute dream and a feeling words fail to describe.”

Originally from Barcelona, Álvaro moved to London in 2006 after completing his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. His wine passion developed over several years, working in restaurants and wine bars in the UK capital. Over the years that followed, Álvaro studied all WSET qualifications, finishing his Diploma in 2014, for which he won the Lustau and Derouet Jameson Scholarships. In 2011, Álvaro completed a master’s degree in engineering management and carried out the final thesis in a wine bottling plant in Veneto, Italy. He has been working for Indigo Wine since 2014, currently as their Spanish buyer, and has done harvest work in Bierzo, Douro, Jerez, and Uco Valley. Now based back in Spain, Álvaro speaks four languages, and outside of wine, he enjoys running, playing football, cooking, travelling, and spending time with his young family.

Álvaro will be invited with his family for a private visit to be presented the medal itself by Etienne Bizot, at the House of Champagne Bollinger in Aÿ.


Notes to editors:

The Madame Bollinger Foundation was founded in honour of Madame Lily Bollinger who tirelessly headed the eponymous Champagne house from 1941, following the death of her husband, to retirement in 1973. Founded in 1987, and established as the first partner of The Institute of Masters of Wine in 1988, the purpose of The Madame Bollinger Foundation is to promote excellence in oenology and to foster quality, education, professional qualification and ethics in all matters relating to wine at an international level. The Foundation and the board of trustees have determined that the Institute of Masters of Wine is the best organisation to help reach this aim, and are proud of their long and continuous association with the Institute for over 30 years.

The Institute of Masters of Wine (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 420 Masters of Wine working in 30 countries. The membership encompasses winemakers, sommeliers, buyers, journalists, shippers, viticulturalists, consultants, academics, educators and more. There were 376 students from 41 countries in the 2020-2021 MW study programme. The IMW works with 31 supporters and one academic and research associate, 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.

Previous winners:
1988 – Michael Hill Smith MW
1989 – Mark Pardoe MW
1990 – Joanna Locke MW
1991 – Alun Griffiths MW
1992 – Jonathan Pedley MW
1993 – Andrew Caillard MW
1994 – John Hoskins MW
1995 – Peter Marks MW
1996 – Matthew Stubbs MW
1997 – Anne Tupker MW
1998 – Gerard Basset MW
1999 – John Atkinson MW
2000 – Not awarded
2001 – Linda Jotham MW
2002 – Konstantinos Lazarakis MW
2003 – Toni Paterson MW
2004 – Simon Larkin MW
2005 – Susan Hulme MW
2006 – Essi Avellan MW
2007 – Ulf Sjodin MW
2008 – Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
2009 – Isabelle Legeron MW
2010 – Alex Hunt MW
2011 – Samantha Caporn MW
2012 – Andreas Wickhoff MW
2013 – Anne McHale MW
2014 – Louise Sydbeck MW
2015 – Rebecca Gibb MW
2016 – Mary Margaret McCamic MW
2017 – Jeremy Cukierman MW
2018 – Lindsay Pomeroy MW
2019 – Christine Marsiglio MW
2020 – Heidi Iren Hansen MW
2021 – Álvaro Ribalta MW

For further details, please contact:
Anna Woodbridge – 020 7840 3600 /
Sarah Kirkpatrick – 020 7383 9131 /