Tough shoes to step into, those of the indefatigable Caro Maurer MW, but somehow we managed to hold Rust together this year.
Aided massively by a very enthusiastic – if rather large at 56 – student group and the wonderful hospitality of Pepi Schuller MW at Weinakademie, through the generous support of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board.
With just a matter of hours to go, two of the principal guest speakers were forced to pull out, one because he was required to remain in Australia to help mitigate the vine-implications of the bush fires, and the other through sickness. With the very kind support of Gonzalez Byass (UK), and the creativity of Natasha Hughes MW, we managed to supplement what had been lost with a wonderful Sherry masterclass, and if the students weren’t happy with that, then we probably have to question whether we actually want them in the Institute. Also presenting with scant notice, special thanks to Jonas Röjerman MW who gave the group no excuse not to understand the Swedish Monopoly, and Justin Knock MW who spoke expertly and entertainingly about oak. Knock on wood.
A real highlight was Christian Seely of AXA Millésimes, who I had collared immediately after last year’s Marathon du Médoc – when I felt he might be at his least able to generate an excuse of polite declination – and who, I think it is more than fair to say, came up trumps. He presented a vertical tasting of Pichon Baron 2009 – 2016, which will live long in the memory of all those who were lucky enough to attend.
As at the other seminars, all practical feedback sessions were with on-screen display of answers rather than only reading out loud, and immediate availability of crib-sheets, and this has been a well received development indeed, from both sides of the table.
I am hugely indebted to a whole raft-ful of people for their time, expertise and organisation. All the MWs who attended, of course, but the office team, especially Patrick and Angus who attended, and many others besides. You know who you are.
It feels that all the increasingly stringent entry requirements to the programme are paying dividends, and this was a highly energised group amongst whom I feel sure are very many future MWs-to-be.