Belgian crowned 2012 Champagne Ambassador

Gido van Imschoot was named this year’s Champagne Ambassador edging out strong competition from across Europe.

Gido van Imschoot

There were nine finalists in all, including the UK’s own Nancy Gilchrist MW, with Austria entering for the first time as well.

Italian Chiara Giovoni came second, while the Austrian Elisabeth Eder was awarded the Prix Special.

The candidates spent a week in Champagne visiting producers to taste and make notes to help their presentations, which this year focused on the impact of ageing wines in oak and stainless steel.

After the win was announced at a dinner at La Marquetterie, van Imschoot told the drinks business: “I feel very happy but I had to work on it because the debate about wood and inox is very strong.

“The influence on the wine either way is extraordinary and it shows the diversity that there is in Champagne.

“It’s not easy to teach people about because we always start with the terroirs and crus etc and they learn that Champagne is made in this way.

“It adds an extra level which consumers may find confusing but it’s up to us to get the message across.”

Gilchrist told db that she was disappointed no to have won but also that she was thrilled to have taken part and been given the chance to learn so much.

There was also a brief pause to remember Patrick Sandeman, who had been one of the judging panel that picked Gilchrist as the UK’s finalist.

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