Sommeliers from restaurants including the Fat Duck, Pollen Street Social, and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal have been announced as semi-finalists in the AFWS Moet Sommelier of the Year 2014.
Names from the Vineyard at Stockcross, Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, Northcote and Summer Lodge, Dorchester, were also chosen.
Now in their 35th year, the awards are run by the Academy of the Food and Wine Service (AFWS), and seek to find the best wine waiter or sommelier based on wine and spirits knowledge, and front of house beverage skills.
The 2014 regional finals were held earlier this week in Bristol, Stafford and two London locations.
The nine 2014 finalists will be joined by Tobias Brauweiler, The Ritz, London (2013 runner-up); Kathrine Larsen (2013 Young Sommelier of the Year); and Tanguy Martin, Hotel TerraVina, Southampton (winner of 2014 Chaînes des Rôtisseurs Young Sommelier of the Year), taking the number of competitors in the final to 12.
The semi-final will take place at the London Mandarin Oriental hotel on 12 June, and select three winners, who will then go on to compete in the grand final in front of an audience of invited guests and a judging panel chaired by Gerard Basset, winner of the 2010 Best Sommelier in the World competition.
The winner receives a free trip to Maison Moët & Chandon to taste the Grand Vintage collections with chef de cave Benoît Gouez and dinner at Moët's Château de Saran.
They will also receive the Boutinot bursary, which this year includes an offer to study in Piedmonte in Italy, with Boutinot's master sommelier Nigel Wilkinson and the winner of last year's competition, Clement Robert, head sommelier at London's Medlar Restaurant.
All three finalists will be given a 12-month free membership of the Wine Guild of the United Kingdom, plus an invite to its annual winter banquet at Vintner's Hall.
In addition, for the first time in the three years it has sponsored the competition, Moët & Chandon is to take all the semi-finalists on a Champagne tasting tour.
All entrants of this year's competition will also be invited to attend a lunch hosted by the London Wine Fair at London's Olympia, on 2 June.
Established in 1988, the AFWS is the professional food and beverage service, aiming to improving the status of the industry and standards within it. It aims to offer helpful training and advice to those hoping for, or pursuing, a career as a sommelier, wine waiter, bar or restaurant manager.
LIST OF FINALISTS
Loic Avril, the Fat Duck, Bray
Romain Bourger, the Vineyard at Stockcross, Newbury
Lukasz Kolodziejczyk, Pollen Street Social, London W1
Olivier Marie, Coq d'Argent, London EC2
Stefan Neumann, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London SW1
Adam Pawlowski, Northcote, Blackburn
Emanuel Pesqueira, Summer Lodge, Dorchester
Damien Trinquel, Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Chippenham
Roberto Zanca, Hotel du Vin, Cheltenham
Tobias Brauweiler, The Ritz, London
Kathrine Larsen, London
Tanguy Martin, Hotel TerraVina, Southampton