Top tasters bemedalled
11 Nov 2013 by Jancis Robinson

Last Thursday night the most recent batch of Masters of Wine were officially anointed at the annual MW get together in Vintners' Hall in London. One of the most coveted prizes given there since it was instituted in 1988 is the Bollinger Medal presented by the Madame Bollinger Foundation for excellence in tasting and outstanding achievement in the practical bits of this Everest of an exam. Last night it was awarded, for the 25th time, to Anne McHale MW of Berry Bros.

Over the years the Medal has gone to MWs of eight different nationalities (see table below), with Australians performing particularly well, it seems to me, as a proportion of all Australian candidates. It is also worth noting that 40% of the recipients have been female, even though only 29% of MWs are women.

The Madame Bollinger Foundation was founded in honour of Madame Lily Bollinger, who headed the eponymous champagne house from 1941 on the death of her husband until retirement in 1973. It was the first partner of The Institute of Masters of Wine and the Bollinger Medal was the first of what has become a long list of awards given to new MWs. Having become the first non-trade Master of Wine in 1984, I well remember being taken out for lunch at the Savoy Grill in 1987 by the then head of Mentzendorff, Bollinger's UK import company, Anthony Leschallas, and being sounded out about the Institute and its worthiness.

Other awards made at the annual ceremony were:

The Villa Maria Award for outstanding knowledge and understanding of viticulture in their exams - Dilek Caner MW of Turkey.

The Errázuriz Award for performance in the Business of Wine examination -Jon Pepper MW of the UK.

The Robert Mondavi Winery Award for outstanding performance across all of the theory papers (the award won by Julia Harding in 2004, along with the Tim Derouet Prize for excellence in all parts of the exam and the dissertation, now replaced by the Austrian-sponsored award below) - also Jon Pepper MW.

The Taransaud Tonnellerie Award for excellence in the Production and Handling of Wine paper - also Anne McHale MW.

The Noval Award, sponsored by Quinta da Noval, for the best dissertation - Dilek Caner MW for her dissertation on Washington State Syrah: US consumer and trade perspectives.

The Institute of Masters of Wine Outstanding Achievement Award, sponsored by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, for the candidate who was outstanding in all parts of the exam - Anne McHale MW.

1988

Michael Hill Smith AM MW

Australia

1989

Mark Pardoe MW

UK

1990

Joanna Locke MW

UK

1991

Alun Griffiths MW

UK

1992

Jonathan Pedley MW

UK

1993

Andrew Caillard MW

Australia

1994

John Hoskins MW

UK

1995

Peter Marks MW

USA

1996

Matthew Stubbs MW

UK/France

1997

Anne Tupker MW

US/UK

1998

Gerard Basset MW

France/UK

1999

John Atkinson MW

UK

2000

Not awarded

2001

Linda Jotham MW

UK

2002

Konstantinos Lazarakis MW

Greece

2003

Toni Paterson MW

Australia

2004

Simon Larkin MW

UK

2005

Susan Hulme MW

UK

2006

Essi Avellan MW

Finland

2007

Ulf Sjodin MW

Sweden

2008

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW

USA

2009

Isabelle Legeron MW

France/UK

2010

Alex Hunt MW

UK

2011

Samantha Caporn MW

UK

2012

Andreas Wickhoff MW

Austria

2013

Anne McHale MW

UK