For one week in November, Steve Paul from Oakdene Wines will be exposed to a selection of the world’s best wines under the guidance of Australia’s best wine tutors.
Joining a group of 11 wine industry leaders, Mr Paul will head off to the Hunter Valley from November 5 until 9 for the 18th Len Evans Tutorial; Australian wine writer and critic James Halliday dubs the tutorial “the most exclusive wine school in the world”.
The chosen 12 each receive a $9000 scholarship and the opportunity to develop their wine appreciation with the nation’s top wine experts.
Mr Paul said after nine prior applications, 15 years in the industry and a decade of judging wine, it was a “dream come true” to be accepted into this year’s program.
“Each year there’s an open period where they ask for a written submission. They ask for a compelling letter which justifies your inclusion and then a resume and three industry references,” he said.
“This is the ninth time I’ve entered, it’s not something that’s easy to get into with between 120-200 people entering each year. If you’re not successful they normally give you feedback and mine related to judging experience.
“When they set up the tutorial, it was to groom future wine show judges and the best way to do that was to expose them to the greatest wine in the world. I’ve been judging between three to five wine shows a year over a decade now so have built up a reasonable body of work.”
Mr Paul said having met the iconic Mr Halliday before in a large group setting, he was nervous and excited to receive guidance and tutelage from the Maurice O’Shea Award winner.
“I’ve met him a few times but that was just pleasantries, the excitement of being selected is just a dream come true and to spend a week with the tutors.
“The dux wins a trip to Europe with invitations to wineries across Europe. There’s a lot of information with regards to wines that have previously been used; you have to try and guess the region of the wine over several questions.
“I’d expect to see the same sort of line up, they’re all so rare and expensive you couldn’t taste them on a weekly basis so it’s time to read and read. It’s exciting and nerve wracking.”