Sophie Parker-Thomson MW wins Quinta do Noval Award 2021

New Zealander Sophie Parker-Thomson MW has won the Quinta do Noval Award 2021, which was announced at this week’s Master of Wine induction ceremony in Vintners Hall, London.

The prize is given to the best research paper (RP) by a new MW and judged by Christian Seely, managing director of AXA Millesimes, the owner of Quinta do Noval. She wins a cheque for £1000, a framed print of Quinta do Noval, a trip to the property in the Douro, and a case of wines and ports – including Noval’s Nacional Vintage.

Christian Seely commented afterwards: “This was an excellent piece of research. At first sight, the very rigorous scientific approach seemed somewhat alarming, but it turned out to be compulsive reading, fascinating, with some original insights and thought-provoking ideas. Extremely well researched and rigorously argued, I thought it was outstandingly good, and for me was without question the best of the papers submitted.”

Sophie could not travel to London for the ceremony in person but expressed her delight in winning the award via a video link from her home in Marlborough. Sophie said: “I am overwhelmed, and so grateful to receive the Quinta do Noval Award. This was a daunting paper to research and write but the significant public interest element and importance of this topic to the industry was undeniable. I am truly honoured to have my RP recognised in this way. My thanks to Christian Seely and AXA Millesimes for encouraging excellence in wine research, and I am so excited to experience the magnificent Quinta do Noval in person as part of my prize.”

Raised in New Zealand’s Gisborne and Central Otago wine regions, Sophie is a wine producer and consultant. Originally a lawyer, she was drawn to the wine industry when she moved to Marlborough for the 2011 harvest. In 2013, Sophie and her husband Matt founded premium wine venture, Blank Canvas, crafting fine wines from single vineyard sites. Their consultancy, Lock, Stock and Barrel, offers wine industry services from vine to bottle. Sophie is a zealous advocate of the quality and sub-regional diversity of New Zealand, sitting on both the Appellation Marlborough Wine (AMW) committee and the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association executive.

The RP is the final stage of the Master of Wine exam. It is an individual project on a topic chosen by the MW student, resulting in work between 6,000 and 10,000 words. Sophie’s winning RP was titled: What is the relationship between the use of Sulphur Dioxide and Biogenic Amine levels in wine?

The IMW’s ceremony normally occurs in November each year, but the global pandemic forced a cancellation, meaning an additional event was required. The ceremony on 23 March welcomed both 2020 and 2021 Masters of Wine and presented individual prizes to the 2021 vintage.

25 MARCH 2022 | By Patrick Schmitt | The Drinks Business