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Self-taught winemaker who used to produce wine in a bath wins IMW Noval Award

Self-taught Spanish winemaker and consultant Fernando Mora MW has been awarded the Institute of Masters of Wine Quinta do Noval prize for the best research paper written in the final stage of becoming an MW.

Fernando Mora and Christian Seely.

Mora received the award from Christian Seely, managing director of AXA Millesimes, the owners of Quinta do Noval. The awards ceremony, held at the Vintners’ Hall in London on 7 November, honoured 18 new MWs who join a select group of less than 370 members world-wide.

Mora was given a cheque for £1,000, a framed print and also has won a complimentary trip to visit Quinta do Noval in the Douro where he will pick up a case of wines and ports, including Noval’s Nacional Vintage. The Nacional Vintage is made in limited quantities and only in a few years in each decade.

Mora started out as an engineer working in the automotive and wind power industry. After he fell in love with wine, he planted 28 vines in his grandparents’ garden in Alagón, Zaragoza and bought a home winemaking kit, using his bathtub as a receptacle.

He left his ‘day job’ in 2013 to found Bodegas Frontonio and in 2015, launched a new project in Campo de Borja called Cuevas de Arom.

Expressing a firm fondness for Garnacha, Mora said he is looking forward to visiting Quinta do Noval and studying the indigenous and imported varieties planted in the vineyards.

“I first visited Noval a couple of years ago, when Christian Seely opened a very special Tawny for us to taste blind. I guessed, correctly, that it was a Colheita ’64 – and that gave me the confidence to study for my Master of Wine qualification. To win the Noval Award, now, after all that hard work is truly the icing on the cake. I am thrilled,” said Mora.

His paper, which examined ways to revise the wine quality classification in Campo de Borja and other Spanish wine regions, won praise from both IMW and Quinta do Noval.

Commenting on the paper, Penny Richards, IMW’s executive director, said: “It’s always refreshing to read a research paper that will so clearly be used by the wine trade, that has been written accessibly, and with an eye to the future. It’s an important part of the Master of Wine Examination and we are delighted a Spanish subject has been honoured this year”.

Christian Seely added: “The subject is important, and the aim admirable, the analysis very clear, and the suggestions very intelligently thought through. There is a good chance that the proposed system may be implemented, and if so it is likely to do some real good. I thought it was outstanding, and of real practical use”.

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