Bodegas Ramón Bilbao has already selected the ten finalists who will compete for the title of Spanish Wine Master, a competition that will reach its climax on June 26 in Madrid. Out of an initial field of 1,100 hopefuls, these finalists demonstrated their skill and wine knowledge, besting 50 competitors in the semi-final and establishing themselves as the top contenders for the title.
Despite their diversity of profiles, all the finalists share a common element: their passion for wine. A passion that is present to a greater or lesser extent in their respective professions. Among them are Peter Arijs, worker in the Education and Global Projects sector in the DOCa Rioja; Jorge de las Heras, owner of the Montelaguna winery; and Javier Fuster Ibáñez, a wine technical expert, to name a few.
In addition to the recognition that comes with the title of Spanish Wine Master, the winner will receive a cash prize of 8,000 euros. But not only that: he will have the opportunity to make his own wine, corresponding to the 2023 vintage, at the Ramón Bilbao Winery, located in Haro. This experience will be carried out with the collaboration of the winemakers of the house, Rodolfo Bastida and Rosana Lisa.
The semifinal of this unique event took place on Monday June 5 in online format. It brought together 50 semifinalists, who had managed to stand out among more than 1,100 applicants from all over Spain. To advance to the final, the competitors had to overcome various challenges designed to test both their theoretical knowledge and tasting skills, with the help of a pre-sent wine kit.
The final of the first edition of the Spanish Wine Master, which will take place in the emblematic Platea space in Madrid, will be supervised by a luxury jury. This jury will include the Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans and Pedro Ballesteros, as well as the aforementioned winemakers Ramón Bilbao, Rodolfo Bastida and Rosana Lisa. During the final, the ten contestants will have to pass several tests to demonstrate their knowledge, including the tasting and identification of eight Spanish wines.
In addition to the grand prize, there will also be second and third place awards. Second place will receive a cash prize of 2,000 euros, while third place will win a batch of wines valued at 750 euros.
But the competition does not end here. The Spanish Wine Master is taking place simultaneously in three other countries where Ramón Bilbao is present: the United Kingdom, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Each of these places has brought together 400 contestants, whose finals will be in July. For 2024, a grand international final is planned that will pit the winners from each country against each other.
The Spanish Wine Master is an initiative of the Spanish Wine Academy, a training platform developed by Ramón Bilbao with the aim of promoting and valuing the knowledge and consumption of Spanish wine. Since its creation in 2018, it has carried out training in more than 10 countries, reaching more than 5,000 wine professionals.
Lastly, it is important to mention Ramón Bilbao, the winery that has made all of this possible. Founded in Haro in 1924, it bears the name of a pioneer, Ramón Bilbao Murga, who has been selling wine since the end of the 19th century. The winery has maintained its tradition, passing it on from generation to generation, and today continues its activity as part of the Diego Zamora family business, of which it became a part in 1999.