The finalists of the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year Competition 2017 have been named.
Organised by The Caterer and the Academy of Food & Wine Service (AFWS), the awards test the UK's sommelier talent regionally, before inviting a dozen exceptional candidates to a final day of competition.
Regional heats took place in Bristol, London and Manchester, with 10 sommeliers progressing to the final, which will take place in front of a live audience at the Savoy hotel in London on 17 July.
Last year's winner was 67 Pall Mall head sommelier Terry Kandylis (pictured).
The 10 going forward to this year's final will be joined by the competition's 2016 runner-up Jess Kildetoft Sørensen from Mash, and the winner of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Young Sommelier Competition, Piotr Pietras from Launceston Place.
The finalists are:
• Serdar Balkaya, head sommelier, the Royal Automobile Club, London
•Romain Bourger, head sommelier, the Vineyard, Stockcross, Berkshire
•Mathias Camilleri, head sommelier, Five Fields, Chelsea, London
•Tamas Czinki, head sommelier, Northcote, Langho, Lancashire
•Gareth Ferreira, head sommelier, Core by Clare Smyth, London
•Olivier Frayssinet, assistant head sommelier, La Trompette, London
•Alexandre Freguin, head sommelier, Moor Hall, Aughton, Lancashire
• Corin Ireland, assistant sommelier, Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham
•Rudy Le Metayer, sommelier, Summer Lodge, Evershot, Dorset
• Chris Parker, assistant head sommelier, Lime Wood, Hampshire
•Julia Sewell, sommelier, the Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire
• Pierre-Marie Raure, head sommelier, the Lanesborough, London
All 12 will be attending an educational trip to Maison Moët & Chandon in Épernay for an in-depth tour and technical tasting with the Moët & Chandon winemaking team, while the winner will benefit from a money-can't-buy mentoring programme and an all-expenses-paid study visit to a wine region courtesy of Matthew Clark.
The competition's chief judge is Gerard Basset, OBE, MW, MS, and 2010 World Champion Sommelier.
He said: "This competition tests all areas of sommellerie and the vast knowledge they must possess. Its winners go on to become role models for young people in the food and beverage industry."
"Over the last six years, we've seen the high calibre of the UK entrants and believe the dedication and hard work that goes into becoming a top sommelier thoroughly deserves recognition and reward. We wish all finalists the best of luck for 2017."
The MoÁ«t UK Sommelier of the Year 2017 is sponsored by AdVini, Coravin, Matthew Clark, Searcy's, UCC Coffee, Winterhalter, and WSET.