Ruinart challenge in Hong Kong names winner

Leo Au of Café Gray Deluxe at The Upper House hotel in Hong Kong has emerged as the winner of this year’s Ruinart Sommeliers Challenge, seeing off competition from over 20 sommeliers in Hong Kong and Macau after blind tasting four different Chardonnays.

More than 20 sommeliers in Hong Kong and Macau participated in this year’s Ruinart Sommeliers Challenge

The Ruinart Challenge is an international training and mentoring programme for sommeliers, run in partnership with the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Held on 16 May at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong, this year’s competition focused on the Chardonnay grape, the essential white variety in Champagne, and tested contests’ tasting skills on its still wine expressions made from four regions – Burgundy, Argentina, Australia and Napa Valley.

A judging panel formed of Frédéric Panaïotis, Ruinart’s chef de cave; Claudio De Villemor Salgado, Ambassador of Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne; Sarah Heller MW and Han Yew Kong, winner of the Ruinart Sommeliers Challenge 2017 edition, was present to determine the champion of this year’s challenge.

The competition was followed by a masterclass hosted by Panaïotis, who delved into the effect of oxygen in oxidation and reduction in wine.

“With each challenge garnering more and more attention, it has been my pleasure to see that the challenge not only attracts talented sommeliers of all levels from around Asia but also industry experts.

“This year we have also opened the challenge to non-sommeliers to discover the art of blind tasting in the afternoon. As the fifth challenge that I have hosted, I am immensely grateful for the positive response towards the challenge and hope to host an even bigger challenge with more wine sommeliers in 2019.” said Panaïotis.

The Ruinart Sommeliers Challenge made its debut in 2014. The winner will not only receive a trophy but will also have the opportunity to travel to Champagne for hands on experiences, winery visits, as well as tasting older vintages of Dom Ruinart and sampling gastronomical delights from the region.

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