The 10th annual Len Evans Tutorial has named Melbourne Sommelier and aspiring winemaker Liam O’Brien as Qantas Dux for 2010.

Liam O’Brien has held a number of Head Sommelier jobs in Melbourne, most recently at Circa/The Prince. O’Brien has now expanded into wine production with a 2009 Macedon Ranges Pinot Noir in bottle and is co-partner in the ‘Athletes of Wine’ business that also includes wine list consulting and staff education. He can occasionally be found on the floor at Libertine Restaurant, North Melbourne.

O’Brien was pushed all week by a strong field that included Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander winemaker David Mackintosh finishing a close second.

Tutor and Trustee James Halliday said Liam O’Brien was standout candidate, a sentiment shared by all Tutors following Liam’s unanimous selection as Dux.

“From the very first judging session Liam proved not only to have an outstanding palate but an excellent grasp of world wine styles. A very worthy Dux.”

As Dux of the 2010 course, Liam will be guaranteed a judging position at two of Australia’ most important wine shows, Macquarie Group Sydney Royal Wine show and the National Wine Show in Canberra. In addition, past Dux Tom Carson will sponsor Liam’s attendance at the Air New Zealand Wine Show in 2011.

The main prize is a return Business Class air fare to London courtesy of long term sponsor Qantas and then onto Europe with introductions to some of the great wine houses.

Many of the greatest, rarest and oldest wines of the world were opened during the course held in the Hunter Valley from 1-5 November 2010 when 12 young(ish) Australian wine personnel were put to the sternest and most rewarding tastings of their lives. Rarities included a 1959 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon Cask J-6 and 1921 Berncasteler (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) Riesling, along with a number of Australia’s great wine treasures like the 1954 Seppelt K72 Hermitage.

Len Evans Tutorial convener and tutor, Iain Riggs said, “After 10 years there are now 120 scholars in the industry that have been through the Tutorial and the wine industry is seeing the rewards with sommeliers, retailers, restaurateurs, wine writers as well as winemakers looking to take Australian wine up the quality scale and to the consumers of the world.”

Twelve fully paid scholarships are offered each year. The scholarships come with wine, food and accommodation valued at $10,000 each. The only cost incurred by the scholars is physically getting to the Hunter Valley.