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Hong Kong masterclass

I have just spent the last two and half days giving an insight into the MW path to some twelve Hong Kong, Chinese and Japanese students. I found it fascinating as there proved to be a wide variety of cultural and professional backgrounds, life experiences and expectations present in the room. What they all had in common though was a shared desire to learn more about the world of wine.

The majority of the attendees hold the WSET Diploma or, if not, are studying for it. As well as possessing an intellectual desire to develop greater academic depth and detail about wine, it soon became apparent that those present also desired to develop a more objective and holistic view about the business of wine.

So it was reassuring that during the time we spent together a number of students expressed the intention of sitting the entry exam and, by the final day and after sitting the mock exam that I had set them, almost all of those who had previously stated an interest still intended to sit the online paper and to enrol on the MW course.

I was impressed by the diligence, enthusiasm and enquiring minds of the students and, as I sit invigilating/teaching today’s MW Study Programme course day here in Hong Kong, I am confident of a continued surge in interest in the MW Study Programme from Hong Kong, China, Japan and their near neighbours.

When all is said and done, wine people are great fun to spend time with wherever you meet them in the world. We often hear that because it’s so true. The attendees of this Masterclass were no exception and the time we spent together socially, post-class, was great fun and with the added bonus of some cultural exoticism…for me at least.

Those students who do subsequently enter the course will no doubt feel the comfort of not having to face the shock and confusion of the early days of Stage 1. This can only be a positive (and kind) approach on the part of the Institute.

Many thanks to David Le Mire MW and Ying Tan MW for their sage involvement and for diluting the student experience of me!

Demetri Walters MW

The 20th anniversary of the Grand Cru Classé 1855 student trip to Bordeaux

As we all know, being a Master of Wine student is challenging in numerous ways but when comparing the challenges to the immense privilege and honour of being invited to a trip like this one, I think we all agree that our years of studying is a small price to pay. For 20 years now the Conseil des Grand Cru Classés en 1855, has generously hosted the first year students to an exclusive educational trip to Bordeaux. To mark this special occasion, even greater emphasis was put on creating an impressive and unforgettable program and this time our hosts extended the invitation both Masters of Wine and students. Something for which I am profoundly grateful as this was indeed an epic trip to Bordeaux.

In addition to being invited to several of the properties visited in 1997, for instance Château Pontet Canet, Château Issan, Château Batailley and Château Pichon Baron we also had the rare pleasure of visiting Mouton, Lafite, Margaux, Yquem, Haut Brion and more, and all this in a matter of days. A message that became clear to us during our time here was how rare it was for such a large group to be received in this utterly generous way, both in terms of wines and meals but also to be hosted by owners and technical directors. This gave students an unprecedented occasion for gathering essential examples for essay writing from some of the worlds most famous estates and key industry people.

Apart from examples and technical details a more hedonistically emotional side was clearly also satisfied. This trip was filled of such moments and I’m sure we all have our own personal highlights. To mention a few, it’s not every day we taste several vintages blind of Pichon Baron with Christian Seely, having dinner with Alfred Tesseron whilst sipping a 1959 Pontet Canet, listening in awe to Jean Michel Come, or having lunch at Haut Brion. Perhaps the most extravagant example, which well encapsulate the essence of this trip, was when we had finished an impressive vertical tasting of Haut Brion and Mission with Jean Philippe Dalmas and he tells us – I’m really sorry to interrupt but you’re getting late for Chateau d´Yquem…

Louise Sydbeck MW