Wine show pioneer passes away
“Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilised.”
Founder of the long-running Sydney International Wine Competition Warren Mason passed away at Nepean Hospital earlier this week.
His wife, Jacquie, said: “Warren died peacefully listening to his much loved music.”
Passionate about wine, food and jazz, Warren established the Sydney International Wine Competition with French-born chef and professional caterer, Jacquie, in 1982.
They had been operating a corporate catering business and Warren was President of the NSW division of the International Wine & Food Society, during which time he advocated strongly for wine’s place at the dinner table.
He believed it was important for the industry to educate consumers about wine, given that in the 1970s and 1980s, Australia was still evolving as a wine producing and wine consuming nation.
The format for the Competition was established at a dinner 1982, when some of Australia’s most exciting boutique winemakers were invited to submit wines that would best complement the dishes being prepared by Jacquie. The success of the event saw the pair launch the Competition and from relatively humble beginnings it grew into an international event involving degustation dinners and tastings in America, the UK and across Australia and New Zealand.
The annual competition was capped at 2000 wines – with entries invited from around the world – and while the initial blind tasting was conducted in ‘traditional’ fashion, the top rated 400 wines were split into 15 style categories and then rejudged with an appropriate food dish. This could mean a snapper dish was prepared for tastings of the lighter bodied white wines and a venison dish paired with the pinot noir finalists.
The top-rated wines were then awarded trophies and medals in three categories – Top 100, Blue Gold and Gold.
To enhance consumer education, the medal winners and the dishes prepared for the various categories were published in the Competition’s guide, and eventually online, so that consumers could (in theory) put together a dinner party with matching dishes and wines.
Warren and Jacquie ran the Competition until 2016, when they passed on the show to Brett and Michaela Ling, who have carried on the traditions of the competition, including operating out of the Competition’s former base in the Blue Mountains.
“Warren rightfully has ‘legendary’ status in the wine industry,” says convenor of the Sydney International Wine Competition, Brett Ling. “He was a true pioneer, and played a key role in making wine more relevant to consumers. He will be sadly missed by Jacquie and his family, and by everyone who was involved with him and the Competition during the three decades he managed the show.”
The New Zealand-born Mason leaves behind wife Jacquie, son Brendan and daughter Emilie.
Funeral arrangements for Warren will be announced shortly.
Source: Peter Hook