The Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce chose Hong Kong to launch its first training academy for sommeliers last month.
Unveiled at Vinexpo Asia-Pacific on 29 May was Worldsom, a new organisation offering four different courses for those in the hospitality sector, including the chance to become a “Magister Sommelier”.
Speaking at a lunchtime presentation of Worldsom in Hong Kong’s China Club on 31 May, Jacques Faurens, vice president of Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce, explained the thinking behind the training academy.
“We realised that a specialist sommelier course was not available in Bordeaux so we dedicated to create an educational platform to allow sommeliers to gain an internationally recognised qualification.”
Continuing he said, “We have given it an English name to enhance the international aspect of the project.”
Starting in January next year will be the first of four courses (see below) held at the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce, which itself is housed in the magnificent 18th century former Palace Royale on The Place de la Bourse, overlooking the River Garonne.
Pierre Paillardon, former sommelier at The Château Cordeillan Bages hotel in Pauillac is director of the academy, and told the drinks business that he felt it was vital the courses were initially held in Bordeaux.
“It is important to be in Bordeaux and around the vineyards and châteaux,” he began, stressing the fact those on the course would be offered practical experience among the producers of the region.
“They will have the chance to work in a cuverie, and see for example how to clean a barrel, an experience they will never forget,” he said.
However he also said that Worldsom would not rule out the possibility of offering the courses in other locations, such as Hong Kong.
The new Bordeaux courses were compared to existing training schemes already on offer in the market, and Pierre told db that the highest accolade, the Magister Sommelier, was equivalent to the Master Sommelier title conferred on those in the hospitality sector who complete the diploma exam set by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Interestingly, Gérard Basset MS MW is both president of the Court of Master Sommeliers and patron of Worldsom’s inaugural course.
After the lunchtime presentation, Claudio Salgado, hotel manager at Grand Hyatt Macau told db that the challenge in terms of staff training is not the cost, but time.
Hence he said that the hotel itself runs WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) courses for sommeliers and chefs.
He also recorded that a few of his staff were enrolled on the Court of Master Sommelier courses offered in Hong Kong and Singapore.
However, he added, “The fact the [Worldsom] certificate comes from the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce gives it a lot of weight in Hong Kong.”
The four levels on offer from Worldsom include:
- 1. Junior sommelier – a four-week course costing €4,000
- 2. Sommelier – an eight-week course costing €6,000
- 3. Head sommelier – an eight-week course costing €8,000
- 4. Magister sommelier – 10 weeks plus four weeks work experience, costing €12,500
According to Pierre, there is a maximum of 30 people on each course and each person applying will be interviewed and selected for the most suitable level.
The courses will begin in January 2013 and will be held once each year.
For more information visit http://www.world-sommelier.com/
To read more about the courses on offer at the Court of Master Sommeliers visit http://www.courtofmastersommeliers.org/ or for more information on those offered by the WSET visit www.wsetglobal.com/