The 2011 MW exam - practical

14 Jun 2011 by Richard Hemming

Tomorrow - the theory papers.

It's so much easier when they tell you what the wines are.

Reproduced below is the 2011 MW practical examination - that is, all three tasting papers, followed immediately by the crib sheet of wines. Needless to say, this wasn't revealed until the final exam had been completed. Feel free to comment using the box at the bottom. To find out more about how I did, read Diary of an MW student - part 26, the exam! 

PAPER 1, Tuesday 7June 2011 – 2 1⁄4 hours 

QUESTION PAPER 

1) Wines 1 to 3 are from the same region of origin, but made from different single grape varieties.
For all three wines:

a) Identify the region of origin (15 marks)
For each wine:
b) Identify the grape variety and comment on the level of quality within the context of the region of origin (3 x 15 marks)
c) Comment on the age / vintage of each wine and its potential to develop and improve further (3 x 5 marks)

2) Wines 4 to 6 are made from the same grape variety.
For all three wines:

a) Identify the grape variety (15 marks)
For each wine:
b) Identify the origin as closely as possible and comment on the level of quality within the context of that origin (3 x 15 marks)
c) Discuss how the wine has been made, with specific reference to the use of oak and malolactic fermentation (3 x 5 marks)

3) Wines 7 to 12 are a mixed bag. Each comes from a different country and a different (predominant) grape variety.
For each wine:

a) Identify the predominant grape variety (6 x 7 marks)
b) Identify the country and region of origin as closely as possible (6 x 8 marks)
c) Comment on the level of quality (6 x 10 marks)

PAPER 2, Wednesday 8 June 2011 – 2 1⁄4 hours 

QUESTION PAPER

1) Wines 1 to 3 are from the same country of origin.
For all three wines:

a) Identify the country of origin (15 marks)
For each wine:
b) Identify the grape variety/ies (3 x 10 marks)
c) Comment on the level of quality (3 x 10 marks)

2) Wines 4 and 5 are made from the same single grape variety and are from the same region of origin.
For both wines:

d) Identify the grape variety and region of origin as closely as possible (20 marks)
For each wine:
e) Comment on the method of production (2 x 5 marks)
f) Comment on quality and style, within the context of the region of origin (2 x 10 marks)

3) Wines 6 to 8 are made from different single grape varieties and are from the same region of origin.
For all three wines:

a) Identify the region of origin as closely as possible (24 marks)
For each wine:
b) Identify the grape variety (3 x 8 marks)
c) Comment on the method of production (3 x 4 marks)
d) Comment on quality, within the context of the region of origin (3 x 5 marks)

4) Wines 9 and 10 are from different countries.
For each wine:

a) Identify the grape variety/ies and region of origin as closely as possible (2 x 10 marks)
b) Comment on the winemaking, with particular reference to the use of oak (2 x 10 marks)
c) Identify the vintage and state of maturity (2 x 5 marks)

5) Wines 11 and 12 are both made from the same single grape variety, from different countries.
For both wines:

a) Identify the grape variety (20 marks)
For each wine:
b) Identify the origin as closely as possible (2 x 5 marks)
c) Comment on quality and style, with particular reference to commercial appeal (2 x 10 marks)

PAPER 3, Thursday 9 June 2011 – 2 1⁄4 hours 

QUESTION PAPER 

Wines 1 to 12 are all presented in pairs: 1&2, 3&4, 5&6, 7&8, 9&10, 11&12. Each pair is from a single region of origin.
For each pair:
a) Identify the region of origin as closely as possible (8 marks per pair)
b) Comment on the methods of production (14 marks per pair)
c) Compare the quality of the two wines, within the context of the region of origin (20 marks per pair)
For each wine:
d) State the alcohol to the nearest degree (12 x 2 marks)
e) State the residual sugar in grammes per litre (12 x 2 marks)

Wine List 2011

Paper 1

1
Muscat d'Alsace, Rolly Gassmann 2007 - 12.5% - Alsace - France

2 Riesling, Kappelweg de Rorschwihr, Rolly Gassmann 2002 -12.5% - Alsace - France

3 Pinot Gris, Vendanges Tardives, Rotleibel de Rorschwihr, Rolly Gassmann 1996 - 12.5% - Alsace - France

4 Chablis, 1er Cru Les Vaillons, Billaud-Simon 2007 - 13% - Burgundy - France

5 Chardonnay, Yellow Label, Wolf Blass 2009 - 13% - South Australia - Australia 

6 Chardonnay, Saintsbury 2008 - 13.5% - Carneros - California

7 Semillon, Vat 1, Tyrrell's 2002 - 10% - Hunter Valley - Australia

8 Riesling, Smaragd, Ried Kellerberg Durnsteiner, Weingut Knoll 2007 - 13.5% - Wachau - Austria

9 Torrontes, Crios, Susana Balbo 2010 - 13.5% - Salta - Argentina

10 Sauvignon Blanc, Errazuriz 2010 - 13.5% - Aconcagua - Chile

11 Condrieu, De Poncins, Villard 2009 - 13.5% - Rhône - France

12 Monopole, CVNE 2008 - 13.5% - Rioja - Spain 

Paper 2

1 John X Merriman, Rustenberg 2008 - 14.5% - Stellenbosch - South Africa

2 Syrah, Jordan 2007 - 15% - Stellenbosch - South Africa

3 Pinotage, Greywacke, Cape Chamonix  2008 - 14% - Franschhoek - South Africa

4 Beaujolais Villages, Duboeuf 2009 - 13% - Beaujolais - France

5 Fleurie, La Roilette, Metrat 2009 - 13% - Beaujolais - France

6 Barolo, Massolino 2006 - 14% - Piedmont - Italy

7 Dolcetto d'Alba, GD Vajra 2009 - 13% - Piedmont - Italy

8 Barbera d'Alba, Gisep, Massolino 2007- 15% - Piedmont - Italy

9 Château Giscours 2002 - 13% - Margaux, Bordeaux - France

10 Contino Reserva 2005 - 14% - Rioja - Spain

11 Merlot, Fetzer 2008 - 13.5% - California - USA

12 Merlot, Errazuriz 2009 - 13.5% - Aconcagua - Chile

Paper 3

1 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, Blanc de Blancs 1999 - 12% - Champagne - France

2 De Laurency, Brut NV - 12% - Champagne - France

3 Verdelho, 15 years old, Henriques and Henriques NV - 20% - Madeira - Portugal

4 Sercial, 10 years old, Henriques and Henriques NV - 20% - Madeira - Portugal

5 Pinot Noir, The Edge 2009 - 14.5% - Martinborough - New Zealand

6 Pinot Noir, Escarpment 2008 - 13.5% - Martinborough - New Zealand

7 Fonseca Guimaraens, Vintage Port 1995 - 20.5% - Douro - Portugal

8 Taylor's 10 year old Tawny Port  NV - 20% - Douro - Portugal

9 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett, J J Prüm 2007 - 9% - Mosel - Germany

10 Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenhur Spatlese, Fritz Haag 2002 - 8% - Mosel - Germany

11 Domaine du Noble, Loupiac 2005 - 13% - Bordeaux - France

12 Château Suduiraut, Sauternes 2005 - 13.5% - Bordeaux - France

Comments

David, I largely agree with you - the papers were friendly in many ways. Nevertheless, I missed some of the ones which in retrospect look easy to pick. Not sure if this is because they weren't quite as typical as you'd hope, or because I just plain misread them. Talking to some fellow candidates, it did seem that most of the wines in there were generally thought to be nicely typical. Time will tell!

18 Jun 2011 07:58 by Richard Hemming

I didn’t sit this year, so caveat emptor, but anyway here’s my take on the practical. IMO, the IMW was nicer this year than last, especially with the paper 3, but definitely not straightforward. Paper 1. Heaven help you if you misjudged the nose on the Vendange Tardives and put it in your mouth before you tasted all the other wines. That’s going to throw off your whole week. IMO, the IMW puts that in there to test the “smarts” of the candidates. The Alsace should be pretty straight forward (again, I didn't sit this year so easy for me to judge!), given the banker of the Vendange Tardives. Once you know Alsace, the others should follow. Getting the VT as Pinot Gris would give you a gold star. For the three chards, you have to nail the Chablis as 1er cru, but will be forgiven for not nailing the regions of 5,6 as long as you say new world. But you have to nail the oak and ML levels on 5 and 6, for sure.  The mixed bag is tough. I’m firmly in the must-nail-8-out-of-12 camp, so you’ve got to nail 2 or 3 more to get your 8. The oldish Hunter Semillon should be a banker, so there’s one. The Riesling should be clear, but could be tough to nail as Austria. If you miss that then you better get the Torrontes and the SB. I had the Errazuriz SB recently and it’s clearly Chile so that’s a good possibility at some points. The Condrieu will be tough to get passing points on. If you get the white Rioja you’ll get a gold star and other indiscretions might be forgiven. Paper 2. I think the IMW really wants people to identify South Africa blind, with proper justification. Should be not too tough given the distinct Pinotage characteristics and the probable clear “smoke” in all three. If you don’t 100% nail the Beaujolais it’s going to be tough to show the examiner you’re at MW level. The Piedmonts should be straightforward, though you better have method of production of all three wines down pat. The Bordeaux/Rioja pair was tough. I read the question (without looking at the wines) and guessed it was a comparison of new/old world cab/merlot vs Bordeaux blend. Ouch. The Merlots were also tough. I read the question and again thought new/old world comparison. California/Chile comparison?! Ouch again! This year, I think Paper 2 was the toughest paper to get 8/12 wines. Paper 3. Order of tasting is critical here. I’m more in the sparkling-first camp so I’d do those first, so I’m safe there. But heaven help you (again!) if you didn’t do the pinot’s next. If you didn’t, then you’re shooting for 8 out of 10!  Okay, dissecting the pairs. The vintage vs. NV champagne was straightforward, and the IMW is expecting those to be nailed. Verdelho vs Sercial is tough, but if you miss them they should be at least in the right order. 10yo Tawny vs Vintage? Should nail that, though might be forgiven for missing the exact age of both. Kabinett vs Spatlese – better nail those two – they’re gimme’s, and given the likely high SO2 of the Prum, you should be able to guess producer! ;-)  Two sweet bordeaux’s – could be tough if you don’t taste them a lot (like me!) Again, lots of armchair quarterbacking on my part here, but anyway. Richard, how do you think you did?

17 Jun 2011 17:46 by David Forer

Jonathan, I would argue that Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc can taste remarkably similar actually  (though admittedly more often in dry wines) - and I say this not just in an attempt to protect a fellow MW!  A 2009 DNA study suggests that the varieties are genetically extremely close. Honest.

17 Jun 2011 07:08 by Jancis Robinson

Wines all seem fairly straightforward (in the context of the MW exam) and no nasty vintage or commune questions. Paper 3 almost a doddle given 2 wines from each region and no "is it sherry or Madeira" problem. I would expect a high pass rate. Not so sure about the written (Theory) though as Paper 1 compulsories not easy.

15 Jun 2011 09:40 by Stephen Skelton

I remember being at a dinner where there was some sweet wine we were all drinking and one of the guests asked the MW chairing the event what the grape was and he said "this is savignon blanc" and on the label it said 100% semillion (or it could have been vica versa). So we all had a pretty good laugh at his expense - something to look forward to when you have those precious initals after your name!  

14 Jun 2011 12:34 by Jonathan Cottrell

Hi Jonathan, if you mean these exact wines, there were many I haven't ever tasted. In terms of the styles they represent, they are all pretty mainstream in an MW context, so I had come across them all on a pretty regular basis. Of course, that didn't mean I guessed them all correctly!

14 Jun 2011 11:30 by Richard Hemming

Richard, what percentage of these wines had you tasted previously (i.e. and therefore had some chance of guessing what they were)?  

14 Jun 2011 09:29 by Jonathan Cottrell

You can taste them in any order, so I guess choosing which ones to tackle first is part of the exam! But when you have such a mixed group, it does make it much harder if you have second thoughts and need to go back to any of them.

14 Jun 2011 09:15 by Julia Harding

Tasting order is very much the taster's prerogative - but two reds in a flight of sweets & fortifieds was tricky. Especially when the RS & %abv was demanded for each wine. Easy to start finding RS where there was none!

Each pair required a comparison answer - ie on quality and production - so there were potentially points to be gained even if you guessed the wines wrong. But I'll say no more on that!

14 Jun 2011 09:11 by Richard Hemming

I think Paper 3 looks pretty sadistic. Imagine tasting a Prum Kabinett after a port!  Or are you told that part of your duty is to nose them all and then decide in which order to taste them?

And then to suddenly plop two such similar NZ Pinots in among the fizz and fortifieds seems strange. Did they taste very different?  What was the point of comparing them, do you think?

And to have such an unusual vintage port.  It would take a brave person to guess the vintage was 1995!

Those two madeiras seem a bit similar. 

14 Jun 2011 08:19 by Jancis Robinson

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