As the highest qualification a wine lover can aspire to, the Master of Wine (henceforth MoW) trains people to embrace a global and multifaceted vision of the wine world. It imparts in-depth knowledge about all aspects of the production and business of wine: viticulture, enology, wine service, etc. The MoW community comprises professionals ranging from educators and writers to enologists, wine merchants and brand ambassadors.
Fernando Mora, MoW and enologist at Bodegas Frontonio, is the perfect embodiment of this all-encompassing vision of the wine world. He has given us insight into a distinction that few people hold in our country.
The transition from wine lover to MoW might seem like a milestone (and it is), but for Fernando Mora it happened in the most organic way possible:
“My wife and I took a wine trip to La Rioja in 2008 where I fell in love with wine during a visit to the Vivanco museum. On our way out, I told her we’re going to make wine. Six months later, we were stomping grapes in a room in our 80 square-meter flat in Zaragoza. Just a year later, I began making and selling some of our own wines, as well as teaching myself the trade.”
Becoming a MoW might have been a natural progression, but it wasn't easy, although it was exciting. It took more than three years and countless hours of studying and reading, walking miles around major wine regions, tasting thousands of wines, and having hundreds of conversations with weathered winegrowers from whom he learned in the vineyard. Training as a MoW demands a high level of dedication and drive. As an educational distinction it not only requires study, but also the kind of passion and conviction one can only get from the wine world.
It is a fulfilling form of personal growth, but it comes with a certain degree of responsibility, because the title draws a lot of media attention. In addition to the spotlight, Fernando juggles an incredibly busy schedule:
“I spend 35% of my time traveling, another 30% at wineries and vineyards, and the rest with my wife, having a good time, and if that involves wine, even better. I love eating good food, and I especially love being around people and working as a team.”
Fernando Mora, one of Spain's two Masters of Wine in 2018
The aforementioned responsibility largely lies in the international promotion of our country's wines and in developing solutions from a perspective that draws on a deep understanding of the wine world—although Fernando insists that “this depends a lot on each MoW.” He does agree, however, on the importance of communication and doing it well. “Wine is culture, history, science and art, and it is our duty to assist in a seamless exchange of knowledge between the different players in the industry. Doing things is important and so is letting others know about it.”
We agree with Fernando that wineries share in this responsibility and need to adapt their message based on the audience in question: “We can't tell a group of young people who want to spend a fun day at a winery the same thing we'd tell a wine writer who is interested in the pH of every wine.”
Miguel Torres Maczassek (General Manager of Familia Torres) speaking with Fernando Mora (Master of Wine 2018) in the tasting of ancestral varieties of the Salón de Gourmets, organized by Familia Torres on May 7 in Madrid.
One thing is certain: as wine producers and MoW, we need to convey our passion, and the dedication and effort that go into every bottle of wine. It is a thousand-year-old heritage worth cherishing; a heritage “built by the people, for the people.”
Looking ahead, Fernando sees a bright future for quality Spanish wines, confident in our vineyards and the diversity of our terroirs. We also share Fernando's concern about the effects of climate change on the vineyard.
“Vineyards moved from the mountains into the valleys, and now we might see their return to higher ground.”
Before wrapping up, Fernando reveals his favorites in what would be a perfect tasting:
- Nervy traditional-method sparkling wines with good acidity.
- Vertical whites with a touch of oak.
- Light-bodied reds with unobtrusive oak aging; a handful of Garnachas.
- Well-aged classic reds with a few years spent inside the bottle.
- Biologically aged wines.