In the cold northern reaches of England, there is a town that many have travelled through on the east coast mainline but never visited. But as the leaves fall in the autumn of 2016, it is here that the seat of the vinous north has been established: Welcome to Vinterfell.
Having moved to Darlington recently, I have discovered …
It is 1988 and I am the narrator in the school’s Christmas play. I have an argument on stage with the grandfather clock over his lines while Christian Bizot, the head of Champagne house Bollinger is doing something far more worthy: setting up the Madame Bollinger Foundation. It was formed in memory of Elisabeth …
A year ago, I received the phone call saying: ‘you’ve passed your Research Paper and I’m delighted to welcome you to the Institute of Masters of Wine’ or something like that. It was lost in a blur of wet eyes, fist pumping and hysterical laughing.
Today, 13 new Masters of Wine in eight different countries …
One of New Zealand’s most successful Chardonnay producers, Kumeu River, is unlikely to be harvesting any grapes during the first weekend of March. Bruce Springsteen is in concert in Auckland and winemaker Michael Brajkovich MW won’t be missing the Boss perform. Since he heard Born to Run when he was 15, he has been a …
So, it is with great relief – and a blog that I have finished the Master of Wine examinations (for another year at least).
Having passed the theory examination last year but only passed one of the three tasting papers, I was back in Sydney for the tasting extravaganza.
I was ready as I ever would be, I had focused on tasting, learning my ageing regulations for Rioja, Chianti, Barolo, ensuring I knew the production techniques for Amarone, Bual Madeira and white Zinfandel…
As usual, paper one was the white wine paper; paper two the red exam; and the mixed bag of the weird and the wonderful on day three.
Interestingly, I was disappointed after day one, leaving a page blank thus losing marks and almost having a wee sob. But I pulled myself together and when the crib sheet was distributed, I’d spotted 10 of the 12 wines as closely as humanly possible under blind conditions. I left paper three happy (that might have been because I imbibed all the 2004 Louis Roederer – too delicious to leave) but later found out I had bombed on at least three of the 12 wines – that might be my undoing. I hope not.
Overall, I left the exam knowing I’d worked hard and done my best – which is all my mother tells me I can do, so it must be true.
Okay, so I missed the Barefoot Moscato (by more than a mile) and the Passito di Pantelleria was a Rutherglen Muscat in my mouth on the day but hopefully getting 27 of the 36 wines as near as damn it will be enough to get me over the line. If not, I did my best, mum.
Here are the wines: Day 1
2010 Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie, Château de la Bretesche, Loire, France
2010 Vouvray Sec Cuvée Silex, D. Vigneau- Chevreau, Loire, France
2010 Menetou Salon Cuvée Beatrice, Henry Pellé, Loire, France
2009 Coteaux du Layon Chaume, Domaine des Forges, Loire, France
2010 Forte Alto pinot grigio, Alto-Adige, Italy
2011 Wither Hills pinot gris, Marlborough, New Zealand
2009 Zind Humbrecht pinot gris reserve, Alsace, France
2008 Puligny Montrachet, 1er Cru Perrieres, Jean Louis Chavy, Burgundy
2008 Meursault, Pierre Morey, Burgundy, France
2008 Tahbilk marsanne, Victoria, Australia
2010 Crozes-Hermitage blanc, Alain Graillot, Rhone, France
2010 Santa Rita ‘120’ carmenere, Central Valley, Chile
2009 Robert Mondavi cabernet sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
2009 Yalumba ‘The Cigar’ cabernet sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia
2008 Lady May, Glenelly, Stellenbosch, South Africa
2006 Chateau Quinault L’Enclos Grand Cru, St Emilion, Bordeaux
2007 Geremia, Rocca di Montegrossi, Tuscany, Italy
2008 Claus Preisinger zweigelt, Burgenland, Austria
2008 Vale do Bomfim, Dow, Douro, Portugal
2008 Becker Estate pinot noir, Pfalz, Germany
2008 Fess Parker’s Vineyard Syrah, JC Cellars, Santa Barbara, California
2007 Cornas Les Vieilles Vignes, Alain Voge, Rhone, France
2010 Mollydooker, The Boxer [shiraz], South Australia
2004 Louis Roederer Brut Vintage, Champagne, France
NV Louis Roederer Brut Premier, Champagne, France
2005 Huet Vouvray Petillant, Loire, France
NV Jacob’s Creek sparkling shiraz, South East Australia
NV Brancott Estate sauvignon blanc brut, Marlborough, New Zealand
NV Beringer sparkling zinfandel rose, California, USA
2009 Zeltinger Himmelreich riesling eiswein ‘junior’, Selbach Oster, Mosel
2009 Tamar Ridge Kayena botrytis riesling, Tasmania, Australia
NV Martini, Asti, Piedmont, Italy
NV Rivesaltes muscat, vin doux naturel, France
NV Barefoot moscato, California, USA
2009 moscato passito di Pantelleria, ‘Ben Ryé’, Sicily, Italy
After three months of waiting, this year’s Master of Wine results finally arrived in our inboxes last night.
There was heart pounding, a little bit of sweating and shaking as I opened the email. But when you see ‘I am very pleased to tell you that you have been awarded a PASS IN THE THEORY,’ the sense of relief is enormous. I couldn’t face going through that again!
I passed the white tasting paper with a B and narrowly missed out on tasting papers 2 & 3 with a C+ and C- but this year was all about theory and, I am expecting to drink a lot of bubbles this week.
It’s a far cry from my first ever MW essay when I got an E. I called my mum up to tell her I’d got an E because it was the first one in my life! Talk about a steep learning curve!
There are 11 new Masters of Wine today who have passed both exams and the dissertation so well done to them. We’d all like to be in that position.
Study partner, Richard Hemming who works for Jancis Robinson, has also passed his theory so well done to him. If you don’t know him, you’ve got to see this youtube video. It’s hilarious.
Auckland’s Royal Easter Show was the highlight of my Easter weekend mainly because it meant I was having a break from MW study, with the exams just six weeks away.
I now know more about alpacas than is healthy and have watched sheep racing competitively over hurdles a.k.a the sheeplechase!
And the size of the cows. I’ve never seen such big’uns except for on Victorian paintings of super-sized cattle. I’m not sure what they were feeding them (steroids?) but they would certainly provide plenty of rump and fillet.
The judging of the cattle was totally foreign to an urban girl like me. The formation of the horn on the Highland cattle, the ‘ease of movement’ and ‘kind eyes’ were all important to the judges. It was like getting a glimpse of another world and another language. Which got me thinking that maybe this is how the average consumer perceives the wine world. Come on, can we really smell cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush and, what does ripe acidity or fine grained tannins mean? I am as guilty as the next wine writer of this but it does make us sound pretty pretentious and excludes your average person in the street.
It’s important not to dumb down but making it seem less fluffy and more accessible would be a positive improvement. Perhaps we need to look at a different way of creating tasting notes that actually mean something to those who don’t spend all day everyday breathing wine (which, is certainly more appealing than breathing in that noxious cattle smell).