On 23rd March, Álvaro Ribalta MW was announced as the 2021 winner of the Madame Bollinger Medal, which is awarded for excellence in tasting and outstanding achievement in the Institute of Masters of Wine practical exams. Álvaro was announced as the winner by Rebecca Gibb MW, the 2015 Madame Bollinger Medal winner, at the annual IMW awards ceremony held at Vintners’ Hall in London.

This year marks the 33rd occasion that the Madame Bollinger Medal has been presented since its inauguration in 1988. The 2020 winner, Heidi Hansen MW, was also presented with her award in person as she was unable to attend the ceremony at the end of last year due to the pandemic.

Commenting on the importance of such recognition of achievement in wine education, Etienne Bizot, great-nephew of Madame Bollinger, Chairman of the Madame Bollinger Foundation and President of the Bollinger Family Group (SJB) said; “The “Madame Bollinger Foundation” was launched by my Father, Christian Bizot, at Vintners Hall in 1988. The purpose was to foster quality, education and ethics in all matters relating to wine at an international level and the Institute of Masters of Wine is without question the global reference in the pursuit of wine excellent in education. I am therefore delighted to award the 2021 Madame Bollinger Medal to Álvaro for this great achievement in honour of Madame Bollinger.” Upon being presented with the award, Álvaro Ribalta MW said, “To pass the MW is an amazing achievement, but to be awarded the Madame Bollinger Medal on your graduation is an absolute dream and a feeling words fail to describe.”

Originally from Barcelona, Álvaro moved to London in 2006 after completing his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. His wine passion developed over several years, working in restaurants and wine bars in the UK capital. Over the years that followed, Álvaro studied all WSET qualifications, finishing his Diploma in 2014, for which he won the Lustau and Derouet Jameson Scholarships. In 2011, Álvaro completed a master’s degree in engineering management and carried out the final thesis in a wine bottling plant in Veneto, Italy. He has been working for Indigo Wine since 2014, currently as their Spanish buyer, and has done harvest work in Bierzo, Douro, Jerez, and Uco Valley. Álvaro speaks four languages, and outside of wine, he enjoys running, playing football, cooking, travelling, and spending time with his young family.

Álvaro will be invited with his family for a private visit to be presented the medal itself by Etienne Bizot at the House of Champagne Bollinger in Aÿ.