The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) recognises professional excellence in viticulture, winemaking and research through its annual Awards for Excellence. ASVO President, Dr Mardi Longbottom said, “The ASVO Award recipients have made outstanding contributions to the Australian wine industry through the implementation and promotion of innovative practices and processes to enhance Australian grape and wine production”. The ASVO Awards were presented to the winners at an awards ceremony at Carrick Hill on the 14th November 2017.
The ASVO Viticulturist of the year, was awarded Liz Riley, owner and operator of Vitibit, a viticultural consultancy based in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. Liz was recognised for her expertise in the sustainable management of vineyard pests and diseases including her contribution to numerous research, development and extension projects focussed on fungicide resistance, practical implementation and recommendations for effective pest and disease control.
The ASVO Winemaker of the Year was awarded to Mike Hayes, Viticulturist and Winemaker of Symphony Hill Wines in the Granite Belt, Queensland. Mike has worked persistently for the past decade to understand and promote alternative varieties and associated innovative winemaking practices and he has actively sought to extend his knowledge nationally.
Two awards were presented for research papers published in the ASVO’s Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research. The winning viticulture paper was authored by Mark Sosnowski of the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and colleagues M. R. Ayres, T. J. Wicks and E. S. Scott. The paper ‘Developing pruning wound protection strategies for managing Eutypa dieback’ appealed to the judging panel because of the demand for technical information to support remedial action against trunk disease nationally.
The best oenology paper was awarded to Simone Vincenzi of the University of Padova, Italy and his colleagues D. Gazzola, M. Marangon, G. Pasini and A. Curioni. The paper, ‘Grape seed extract: the first protein-based fining agent endogenous to grapes’ was selected by the judging panel because of the novel, practical and timely approach taken to find an alternative wine fining agent.
ASVO Award recipients are nominated by ASVO-appointed selection committees comprised of individuals who themselves are distinguished in the fields of viticulture and oenology who demonstrate exceptional leadership ability and vision.
On Monday 5 September, 13 MW students heard that their Research Papers had passed muster, and that they were therefore finally crowned Masters of Wine. This was only the second batch of students who had to submit Research Papers, which replaced the dissertation as the final part of the examination process.
The principle behind both pieces of work is similar: an original research project of up to 10,000 words on a wine-related subject chosen by the candidate. You can read my own account of my experience of the journey in my Diary of an MW Student as well as in this article, which was based on my research (a close-up of which is pictured above). The ethos of the new Research Paper (RP) is much more liberal and collegiate than the dissertation was. Furthermore, those that pass are now being made available to the public (with the exception of some which must remain private for reasons of commercial sensitivity).
There are now 32 RPs listed on the Institute's website that can be accessed freely. Since they are full of research that is potentially very valuable, interested parties must pledge not to disseminate or publish the work - and for that reason the papers cannot be directly downloaded. However, completing a simple request form will provide access.
All sorts of subjects have been covered in the first two years of RPs, including (in my own paraphrasing):
- Whether it is more profitable to produce cru or generic Barolo - and why
- Whether St-Aubin is qualitatively distinguishable from Puligny-Montrachet or Chassagne-Montrachet
- Is the Barossa Valley getting hotter, and which does that imply for what varieties are planted there?
- Does champagne taste better out of different glasses?
There are many other even more specific subjects, too.
Not only do all these papers deserve greater exposure as a credit to the effort that goes into them, they are a hugely valuable resource for anyone with a strong interest in wine. Even better, their availability signals the Institute's intention to be more open and collaborative - something for which they were perhaps not always renowned.