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Somm360 designed ‘to help’, says founder as congress finishes

“If I were to describe my single main intention for Somm360, it would be ‘to help’”, said Vincent Lafortune, founder of the sommelier-focused congress, which finished yesterday.

Vincent Lafortune, founder of the sommelier-focused summit

Lafortune made the comment during a discussion with the drinks business on the eve of the Somm360 summit, which ran from Sunday to Tuesday this week in Montreal, and attracted as many as 300 people in the hospitality trade, with around 25% of these attendees from beyond Canada’s borders.

Speaking during the last day of the summit, he clarified his aims for the event, which comprised a mixture of presentations and tastings from sponsors and high-profile sommeliers, along with key figures in the wine industry.

“Why Somm360?” be began, “Well, it has five goals over two specific fields of action: and the first one is to host programmes specifically developed for sommeliers to help them maintain high standards,” he stated, echoing his previous remark.

But he also explained that the event was conceived to ensure “the integration of sommeliers in all regions and urban centres… to be inclusive”.

While he said that his third intention was to organise “several annual events designed to help sommeliers network, and share, and continue to learn,” he acknowledged that these were designed to be complementary to existing training programmes.

As for his fourth aim, that is to “increase the number and the calibre of candidates wishing to partake in competitions,” and finally, he said that Somm360 was set up to “provide support to our participants in preparation for special sommelier competitions organised by ASI and its members,” referring to The Association de la Sommellerie Internationale, and its Best World Sommelier award.

Concluding, he said that “The power of Somm360 is to have you all here, it is not about me or my team, you are Somm360.”

As previously reported by db, The Somm360 congress was held at Le Grand Quai in Montreal’s Old Port, and designed to help sommeliers obtain the MS (Master Sommelier), MW (Master of Wine) or WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) certifications.

The complete programme can be viewed below / over the following pages.

Day 1 (Sunday 25 November)

5:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Arrival of participants and sparkling wine tasting

5:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Opening ceremony by the SOMM360 advisory board

6:00 pm to 7:45 pm
Opening conference with Somm360
• Guest of honour, Ferran Centelles, drinks director, Elbulli Foundation
• World premiere: ‘The art of blending in the world of Sake’ with the ‘Createur d’harmonies’ François Chartier, new master-blender of the historic Tanaka Sake Brewery, in Miyagi in Japan.
• A glass with…Paul Grieco, sommelier and restaurateur, Terroir, New York City: ‘A wine list that is only a list of wine, sucks!’

7:45 pm to 9:30 pm
Cocktail and dinner reception, including wine tasting at the Somm360 Coravin Wine Bar

Day 2 (Monday 26 November)

8:00 am to 8:30 am
Arrival of participants and coffee/tea tasting

8:30 am to 9:00 am
A coffee with…Guillermo Cruz, wine director and front-of-house manager, Mugaritz, Spain
• Guillermo Cruz showed how he and his team created one of the most unique food and wine pairing programs in the world.

9:00 am to 10:00 am
Masterclass: ‘Austria off the beaten path’ presented by Austrian Wine
Speakers: Christian Zechmeister, managing director of Wein Burgenland & Katja Scharnagl, chef-sommelier at Le Bernardin in NYC
• This masterclass considered Austria’s diversity wine styles. In addition to Grüner Veltliner, other grapes were tasted, such as white varieties Neuburger, Rotgipfler, Zierfandler and Roter Veltliner and red varieties Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, Sankt Laurent and Blauer Wildbacher.

10:15 am to 12:15 pm
Masterclass: ‘Rhône Valley Vineyards, North or South?’ presented by Rhône Valley Vineyards
Speaker: Christophe Tassan, MOF, Rhône Wine Valley ambassador
• Meilleur Ouvrier de France, Christophe Tassan, took attendees on a journey along Rhône Valley vineyards with a blind tasting of different flights of wine.

12:15 pm to 1:15 pm
• Lunch presented by Rhone Valley Wines

1:15 pm to 2:30 pm
Masterclass: ‘The irrevocable luxury of rural life and entrepreneurship’, presented by Les Domaines Paul Mas.
Speaker: Jean-Claude Mas, founder and executive manager, Les Domaines Paul Mas, & Alexandre Fontaine, chef of restaurant Côté Mas
• Mas explained how his intuition and passions lead him to new projects such as buying vineyards, planting new vines, owning a restaurant and providing hospitality services. This session also featured an interactive culinary wine pairing competition for all congress attendees with chef Alexandre Fontaine from Côté Mas restaurant.

2:30 pm to 3:45 pm
Masterclass: ‘Dry white Bordeaux, breaking down the styles among a growing category,’ presented by Bordeaux Wines
Moderator: Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW – CIVB Market Adviser for North America
Panelists: Jesse Becker, MS – accredited Bordeaux Wine educator, portfolio manager of Craft & Estates, Chicago
Élyse Lambert, MS – 5th Best sommelier of the world 2016, Sommelier Consultant, Montreal
John Szabo, MS, Partner/Principal Critic,, Toronto
• The panel of wine professionals discussed the evolution, innovation, and diversity of styles being produced today for an understanding of how to position, buy and sell dry white Bordeaux.

4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Masterclass: ‘The unique specificities of the heartland of Garnacha’ presented by Alto Moncayo
Speakers: Marìa Sancho, director of marketing and communications; Keith Ross, brand ambassador (USA); Íñigo Alberto, export director

5:00 pm to 5:30 pm
A glass with…Greg Lambrecht, chairman and founder, Coravin, and Terry Kandylis, head sommelier, 67 Pall Mall, United Kingdom
• The pair considered how to manage a 750 strong wine-by-the-glass programme?

Freetime at the Somm360 CORAVIN wine bar until 7 pm.

Day 2 (Monday 26 November)

8:00 am to 8:30 am
Arrival of participants and coffee/tea tasting

8:30 am to 9:00 am
A coffee with…Fernando Mora MW, winemaker and founder, Bodegas Frontonio, Spain

9:00 am to 10:00 am
Masterclass: Château de Beaucastel
Speaker: Thomas Perrin, owner and winemaker, Château de Beaucastel
• A discovery tour of the influence of Syrah in various blends from the southern Rhone.

10:15 am to 12:15 pm
Masterclass: ‘Blind taste the difference’, presented by Wines of Portugal
Speaker: Sofia Salvador, wine dducator, ViniPortugal
• A blind tasting of 4 flights of 4 wines each. In each flight, three wines reflected the most typical style and one wine was an ‘intruder’ that had to be discovered by the participants.

12:15 pm to 2:15 pm
Lunch and tasting presented by Wines of Portugal

2:15 pm to 3:15 pm
Masterclass: ‘Oceans, Attitude & Altitude: A Focus on Australian Chardonnay & Pinot Noir’, presented by Wine Australia
Speakers: Mark Davidson, Head of Education, Americas, Wine Australia & Michelle Bouffard, Sommelier, Author & Educator, Montreal
• A presentation on cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

3:15 pm to 3:30 pm
Special Bordeaux Wine activity
Speakers: Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW – CIVB Market Adviser for North America, and Shelley Cartland, Bordeaux Wine School Market Adviser, North America
• A live mobile app quiz on Bordeaux Wine’s OenoBordeaux mobile app to win a magnum of Bordeaux wine.

3:30 pm to 4:00 pm
A glass with… Rajat Parr, three-time James Beard Award-winning author, sommelier, and winemaker
• How to master your blind tasting skills.

4:00 pm to 4:30 pm
A glass with…Devon Broglie MS, chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas and a panel of Master Sommeliers
Panelists: Devon Broglie MS, chairman of the court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, and Global Beverage Buyer at Whole Food Market, Texas
Jennifer Huether MS, Jackson Family Wine, California
Élyse Lambert MS, 5th Sommelier of the World 2016, Sommelier Consultant, Montréal
John Szabo MS, Partner/Principal Critic,, Toronto
• A discussion on the pursuit of the Master Sommelier Diploma.

4:30 pm to 5:00 pm
A tribute to Canada: Domaine Queylus.
Speaker: Thomas Bachelder, founding viticulturalist and winemaker, Domaine Queylus
• Thomas spoke about dealing with Niagara’s diverse ‘maritime and continental influences, and using them to highlight terroir’.

End of the Somm360 Congress + freetime at the SOMM360 CORAVIN wine bar until 7 pm.

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