The 12 sommeliers who will be taking part in the semi-finals of the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year Competition 2015, organised by the Academy of Food & Wine Service (AFWS) and The Caterer, have been named.
The winners of the five regional heats held in Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol, London and Brighton earlier this week will be joined by the next five highest-scoring candidates from all heats, as well as the competition's 2014 runner-up, Tanguy Martin of Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest, and the winner of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Young Sommelier Competition, Mathias Camilleri of London's Medlar restaurant.
The 12 semi-finalists are:
- Arnaud Bardary Maze by Gordon Ramsay, London
- Ladislav Basta, the Kitchin, Edinburgh
- Romain Bourger, the Vineyard at Stockcross - Wales & South West Sommelier of the Year
- Tobias Brauweiler, Hakkasan - London Sommelier of The Year
- Mathias Camilleri, Medlar, London - winner of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Young Sommelier competition
- Zigmars Grinbergs, Hotel du Vin Brighton - South East of England Sommelier of the Year
- Olivier Marie, Coq d'Argent, London
- Tanguy Martin, Hotel Terravina - 2014 MoÁ«t UK Sommelier of the Year runner-up
- Laurent Richet, Restaurant Sat Bains - North of England Sommelier of the Year
- Stuart Skea, Champany Inn, Linlithgow, West Lothian - Scottish Sommelier of the Year
- Niels Sluiman, Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham
The 12 sommeliers will now compete in London on 8 June where they will go through a series of tasks. After completing three tests, the semi-finalists are reduced to six before a final three are selected to compete in the grand final that afternoon in front of an audience of invited guests and a judging panel chaired by Gerard Basset OBE, MW, MS, winner of the 2010 Best Sommelier in the World competition and the recipient of the inaugural Wine and Spirit Ambassador Award at the 2014 Cateys.
Now in their 36th year, the awards are run by the Academy of the Food and Wine Service (AFWS) and The Caterer, and is internationally recognised by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI). They seek to find the best wine waiter or sommelier based on wine and spirits knowledge, and front of house beverage skills.
All national finalists win a trip to Maison MoÁ«t & Chandon, now its fourth year of partnership with the competition, in Epernay for an in-depth tour and technical tasting with the MoÁ«t & Chandon winemaking team, while the winner will benefit from a "money can't buy" mentoring programme. The AFWS and The Caterer will facilitate a series of educational sessions featuring the UK's the top sommeliers.
Elsa Corbineau, marketing director at competition partner MoÁ«t & Chandon said: "MoÁ«t has long been involved with both the World and European Sommelier competitions which means we see some of the highest levels of sommellerie around the globe. The knowledge and ability of the UK entrants is of an extremely high standard - we are very happy to be supporting the Academy of Food & Wine Service in promoting this important aspect of the industry and wish the finalists the very best of luck for the 8 June."
The overall winner will also receive an all-expenses-paid educational trip to one of Europe's top vineyards in either France's Rhone or Loire Valley regions or to Rioja and Navarra in Spain provided by Matthew Clark. Prizes also include a Coravin wine extraction system, an engraved Riedel decanter and a collection of Riedel glasses.
The six finalists will be given a year's complimentary membership of the Wine Guild of the United Kingdom and will be invited to attend its Annual Winter Banquet at Vintners Hall, the historic home of the UK Wine Trade as guests of the Guild. They will also receive a year's print and digital subscription to The Caterer.
"This year we decided to expand the regional finals to widen the competition's appeal and these included Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol, two in London and for the first time, Brighton," commented Nick Scade, chairman of the Academy of Food & Wine Service. "We had an overwhelming response to our call for entries and I am delighted to say the quality of all the contestants across the UK has been outstanding and the regional results were at a very high level."
"The regional winners were all incredibly close and as part of their prizes are soon to visit MoÁ«t & Chandon in Epernay where they will no doubt enjoy some wonderful hospitality but also some extremely valuable vineyard visits and technical tastings, which will no doubt add further to their already excellent knowledge. We look forward to a very exciting semi-final and final in London."
The MoÁ«t UK Sommelier of the Year 2015 is also supported by the AA, Coravin, EuroCave, Hildon, Matthew Clark, the Wine Guild of the United Kingdom and Winterhalter.
The AFWS is the professional body for front-of-house service. Dedicated to improving the status and awareness of food and beverage service as a viable career choice, raising standards across the industry and encouraging teamwork with other colleagues. AFWS can offer advice and training to anyone following or considering, a career as a sommelier, wine waiter, waiter, bar manager or restaurant manager.
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