The names of nine top sommeliers, set to battle it out for the title of Moët UK Sommelier of the Year 2014, have been announced by the The Academy of Food & Wine Service (AFWS), following the regional finals last week.
The 2014 semi-finalists are:- Loic Avril, The Fat Duck, Bray; Romain Bourger, The Vineyard at Stockcross, Newbury; Lukasz Kolodziejczyk, Pollen Street Social, London; Olivier Marie, Coq d’Argent, London; Stefan Neumann, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London; Adam Pawlowski, Northcote, Blackburn; Emanuel Pesqueira, Summer Lodge, Dorchester; Damien Trinquel, Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Chippenham; Roberto Zanca, Hotel du Vin, Cheltenham.
They will be joined by Tobias Brauweiler, The Ritz, London (2013 runner-up), Kathrine Larsen (2013 Young Sommelier of the Year), and Tanguy Martin, Hotel TerraVina, Southampton (winner of 2014 Chaînes des Rôtisseurs Young Sommelier of the Year), to compete in the semi-finals at London’s Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, on 12 June, which will see them whittled down to just three, with the final taking place in the afternoon.
The panel of judges at the semi-finals and final will be chaired by Gerard Bassett OBE, MS, MW, MBA and winner of Best Sommelier in the World 2010.
Elsa Corbineau, Moët & Chandon marketing director, said: “The standard of this year’s regional finalists was extremely high and we are particularly pleased to welcome back some of last year’s entrants, but it’s also rewarding to see some new sommeliers coming through as they start to climb the ranks of their profession.”
This is the third year that Moët & Chandon has sponsored the competition, and the first time the Champagne House will take all 12 semi-finalists to its cellars in Epernay for an in-depth tour and tasting of past vintages with Chef de Cave Benoît Gouez.
In addition, all the sommeliers who entered this year’s Moët UK Sommelier of the Year have been invited to a lunch hosted by the London Wine Fair at Olympia on 2 June 2014.
Now in its 35th year the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year competition seeks to find the best wine waiter or sommelier based on wine and spirits expertise, ability to deal with customers under pressure, and front of house beverage service skills.
Last year’s winner was Clement Robert, head sommelier at Medlar Restaurant, London.
The eventual Moët UK Sommelier of the Year 2014 will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Maison Moët & Chandon to taste the Grand Vintage collections with chef de cave Benoît Gouez, followed by a gourmet dinner at Moët’s Château de Saran, and the Boutinot bursary, which includes a study visit to Piedmonte in Italy accompanied by Clement Robert and Boutinot’s master sommelier Nigel Wilkinson.
All three finalists will be given a 12-month complimentary membership of The Wine Guild of the United Kingdom, including an invitation to its annual winter banquet held at Vintners’ Hall in London, the historic home of the UK’s wine trade.