Wine Ace Maurice is Highest Achiever in Europe

Maurice, on stage and on screen!
Wine Ace Maurice is Highest Achiever in Europe
Relaxing in the Guildhall (l to r): Tony Ambrosini,
David Bird MW and Maurice.
Those of us who have been watching the rise of wine importers Wine Alliance in recent years know that founder and director Maurice O’Mahony knows his wines.

 And that was confirmed when the Corkman successfully came through his examination for the WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits. Maurice emerged as the highest achieving student in Europe and he was awarded the body’s prestigious Wine Australia Scholarship in a grand ceremony in London’s Guildhall this week.

The WSET is the only wine and spirit education organisation approved by the UK government as a national awarding body of vocational qualifications. 

WSET Awards also co-ordinate the annual selection of outstanding candidates to be presented with industry sponsored Scholarships. And some 600 were in the attendance as Maurice received his diploma from WSET President Jancis Robinson and his scholarship from Yvonne May of Wine Australia.

“It is a very prestigious award and I am very proud. The ninety minute ceremony was fantastic. Jancis was charming and the location was stunning,” said a delighted Maurice.

The scholarship is a two week trip to Australia, beginning in Sydney. While details for Maurice’s tour are yet to be finalised he will visit most if not all of the country's wine regions. It will be quite an experience as iconic wineries will be visited, the key personalities behind the vineyards will be on hand to talk with Maurice and he’ll get to taste their very best wines.

But is has been a tough road to get this far, to the top of the European tree, studying hard while also building his company. Minimum of 600 hours study is required and Maurice reckons he well exceeded that in the two years leading up to the Diploma exam.

They started off with a Commercial Unit and that was followed by a Viticulture and Vinification Unit. Unit 3 was on the Still Wines of the World and then followed units on Fortified, Sparkling and Spirits, all involving theory and blind tastings.

He reckons Unit 3 was the toughest. In one particular day, he had to blind taste 12 wines and then do a three hour exam on wine theory! “Five hours in all,” he recalls. “That was a killer!” But the Glanmire resident came through that and all hurdles with flying colours and deserves all the congratulations coming his way.

Guildhall, built between 1411 and 1440
You may read Maurice’s own take on the Guildhall event here and below we reprint a few questions and his answers for scholarship sponsors Wine Australia.

1.       What does this scholarship mean to you?
Winning the Wine Australia Scholarship is a dream come true. I can clearly remember one of our lecturers speaking of it in our first class a couple of years ago. The prize seemed so far away and out of reach. When I was notified that I'd won I was thrilled and when I walked on stage with Yvonne May to be presented with my prize by Jancis Robinson MW in the Guildhall at the WSET Awards Ceremony, it was a surreal moment.

2.       What do you love about Australian wine?
There’s lots to love about Australian wine and I have been a fan for many years. Australia was one of the first countries that got me interested in wine. I love the variety of Australian wines and the way that there are wines of every style, grape variety and price level. Everything is covered from entry level well made value wines to iconic wines that compete with the world’s best.

3.       What are you most excited about your visit to Australia?
I have never been to Australia so that alone will be a thrill. I am a wine obsessive so the opportunity to visit some of the world famous wine regions that I have read about and studied for many years is incredibly exciting. I always find that when I visit vineyards, it enhances my relationship with the wines and the winery.