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Jousselin named UK sommelier of the Year

Yohann Jousselin, head sommelier of The Vineyard at Stockcross in Newbury, Berkshire, has been crowned Piper-Heidsieck UK Sommelier of the Year 2011.

somm-of-year.jpgIt was third time lucky for the Frenchman, having been the runner up last year and taken third place in 2009.

Determined to take the title this year, Jousselin saw off competition from a sommelier duo from The Fat Duck – 29-year-old Lukasz Kolodziejczyk and 25-year-old Loic Avril, who came second and third place respectively in the competition, which is now in its 32nd year and is organised by the Academy of Food and Wine Service (AFWS).

“It’s quite a relief,” Jousselin said after receiving his award. “I felt on a high during the competition and quite relaxed throughout. It was tough this year – I felt I made a few mistakes, so I’m delighted to win.”

In an intense day of competition, Jousselin beat a line-up of 16 sommeliers to a place in the grand final alongside Kolodziejczyk, who won the Young Sommelier of the Year award, and Avril, who was rewarded for scoring the highest mark in the blind tasting.

In the final, the three sommeliers completed a restaurant role-play situation where they were asked to recommend wines to match the customers’ food choice, invent a fish-based menu with accompanying wines and identify the vintages of four glasses of Armagnac.

The finalists went on to complete a blind tasting, correct mistakes on a wine list and execute the perfect pour, pouring a magnum of Champagne equally into 16 flutes.

This year’s panel of judges included wine and food writer Nick Lander, Gerard Basset MS MW, and Academy of Food and Wine Service director Matt Wilkin MS.

Chief judge Gerard Basset MS MW said that this year’s competition had been particularly tough.

“Yohann’s experience won through on the day,” he said. “He was the more complete sommelier. He has very good service skills and that extra flair the judges were looking for.”

The competition is open to professional sommeliers and waiting staff working in the UK.

Lucy Shaw, 07.06.2011

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