A record 16 candidates have been selected to compete in the 2019 Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year finals, reflecting the outstanding quality of the competitors this year.
After intense competition, 13 of the 16 finalists (pictured below) were selected to compete in the finals day at the Savoy on 8 July.
The remaining three places will be filled by 2018 UK Sommelier of the Year finalists Tamas Czinki and Pierre Brunelli, plus 2019 ChaÁ®ne des Rôtisseurs GB Young Sommelier of the Year Matteo Montone.
The 2019 Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year finalists are:
1. Vincenzo Arnese, Dinner by Heston
2. Alan Bednarski, Texture
3. Romain Bourger, the Vineyard
4. Pierre Brunelli, L'Enclume
5. Emmanuel Cadieu, 67 Pall Mall
6. Charles Carron Brown, L'Enclume
7. Rupert Crick, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons
8. Tamas Czinki, Northcote
9. Paul Fauvel, the Lanesborough
10. Gareth Ferreira, Core by Clare Smyth
11. Tony Lecuroux, Moor Hall
12. Maciej Lyko, Launceston Place
13. Matteo Montone, Berners Tavern
14. Christopher Parker, Lime Wood
15. Paul Robineau, Moor Hall
16. Toru Takamatsu, Hide
Nicolas Clerc, president of the Academy of Food & Wine Service and head of the UK Sommelier of the Year competition, said: "We were really impressed with the quality of candidates across all four regional finals and there were lots of new faces.
"These sommeliers are the future of our industry and we've decided to take an extra four through to the quarter final in June to increase their knowledge, experience and exposure to the competition."
The 16 candidates will be examined across a full day at the Savoy on 8 July, before three are selected to take on the final test in front of a live audience at the London hotel.
Kevin McKee, UK director for headline sponsor Taittinger, said:"We thought the quality of the contestants could not have been higher after last year's regional finals. How wrong we were.
"This year's competition was a closely fought contest, with literally points between some of the finalists. The competition really showcases that the UK is home to some of the very finest, knowledgeable sommeliers. The final will be a very exciting contest and we are very much looking forward to hosting all the finalists at Taittinger in the autumn to celebrate their success."
The competition's sponsors include headline sponsor Taittinger as well as Berkmann Wine Cellars, Meiko, Nordaq, Remy Martin, UCC and WSET.
To register your interest in attending the Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year final at the Savoy on 8 July, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.