If there is one academic rank that is universally recognised in the world of wine, it is that of Master of Wine. For the last sixty years The Institute of Masters of Wine has been bestowing the title on those who pass a rigourous exam, which is not only written but also includes a demanding tasting test. The first exam was held in 1953 and in 1955, the Institute of Masters of Wine was formed in London by the people who had passed the inaugural exam. Over the years, the qualification has grown in prestige and breadth, with a total of 360 Masters of Wine spread over 29 countries.
This year, the Institute of Masters of Wine chose to hold its yearly convention in Logroño from the 14th to the 17th of June. This was the ninth Symposium, attended by over 500 leading figures in the wine industry, including a large number of the Masters themselves.
On the second evening of the event, the organisers had created a ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ of Rioja wineries – each of the groups had put themselves down for the tour without knowing which of Rioja’s 800 wineries they would be taken to. Previously, the Institute had picked out a series of wineries whose projects they had deemed particularly interesting.
The whole event aimed to show part of the new geographical classification in Rioja, and the Viñedos Hermanos Hernáiz project was one of those chosen. The even took place at the family’s iconic estate, Finca la Emperatriz, as well as showcasing “Las Cenizas”, the new wine from Cenicero that the family launched in 2018. As for the rest of the event, another five wineries were chosen, each of them located in a different valley of the tributaries of Ebro, as they flow into the main river which flows from West to East through Rioja.
Each of the wines put forward aimed to show the influence of the local climate in each of the valleys: Finca la Emperatriz is from the valley of the rivers Oja and Tirón, Las Cenizas from the Najerilla, Viña Ijalba from the Iregua, Paco García from the Leza, Ortega Ezquerro from the Cidacos and Ilurce from the Alhama, as well as Ramirez de Ganuza, also from Rioja Alta, but from the left bank of the river, at Sonsierra. All in all, it was a practical demonstration of the reasons why this new classification of Rioja had to be put in place.
The day ended with a dinner offered by Viñedos Hermanos Hernáiz, for both the Symposium members and the wineries who had showed their wines. A fine way to end a long day, with relaxed and genial conversations on the topic of wine in general and Rioja wines in particular.