IMW celebrates 60 years this week

The Institute of Masters of Wine is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary this week in London with a five-day programme of tastings, seminars and events.

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The IMW was founded in 1953 when six candidates gained the qualification

The institution was founded in 1953 when six members of the wine trade (out of 21 candidates) gained the qualification and became the world’s first Masters of Wine.

Today, the number of MWs is 52 times that figure – 312 people have passed the notoriously difficult exams before successfully completing a 10,000-word dissertation.

To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary, MWs are flying in from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and across Europe, ensuring this week will see the largest ever gathering of MWs in the capital.

The week’s events will begin with an open-air drinks reception later today in Fitzroy Square, which is the home of the Institute’s Executive Office, where the English Wine Producers will serve a range of sparkling wines in the Square’s garden.

The following morning there will be visits to the cellars of the 650-year old Vintners’ Company in the City of London, and to the UK Government cellars at Lancaster House in St James’s.

On that afternoon VDP (Verband Deutscher Qualitäts- und Prädikatsweingüter), the association of 200 of Germany’s top wine producers, will present a seminar and tutored tasting focusing on Riesling & Spätburgunder at Saddlers’ Hall.

And that evening will be a dinner for 300 at the Banqueting House in Whitehall.

The Institute’s Annual General Meeting, which is anticipated to be the best-attended in 60 years, will take place on Wednesday 18 September at Vintners’ Hall.

It will be preceded by an Institute seminar and tasting titled “Old Vines”, comprising speakers such as the viticulturalist Rosa Kruger, who is an expert on the old bush vines of South Africa; winemaker Dean Hewitson, champion of South Australia’s very old vineyards, many of them dry-grown from the 19th Century, and Norrel Robertson MW and Mark de Vere MW, who have decades of winemaking experience in wine in Spain and California respectively.

On Thursday the Istituto Grandi Marchi (IGM), the group of 19 traditional Italian winemaking families which has been a major Institute Supporter since 2009, will host ‘Exploring the Authentic wines of Italy’ at the Institute of Directors.

The final event of the week, the Anniversary Fortified Tasting, will be an walk-round tasting of fortified wines from around the world specially selected to celebrate the IMW’s 60th Anniversary.

This tasting will feature a selection of rare wines going back to 1887, many of which are no longer commercially available.

Tickets for the Anniversary Fortified Tasting are available to the public, who can find ticket information in the events section of the Institute’s website.

“Sixty years ago six members of the British wine trade passed their exams and became the first Masters of Wine. We now number 312 in 24 different countries; last week we welcomed another eight new Masters of Wine, including our first Turkish citizen. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the vibrancy and reach of the Institute than by this week together,” said Jean-Michel Valette MW, chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine.

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