Five Fields head sommelier Mathias Camilleri has been named the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year 2017.
Camilleri won having beaten Gareth Ferreira and Julia Sewell in a close fought final at the Savoy hotel today.
Core by Clare Smyth head sommelier Ferreira placed second, while Fat Duck sommelier Sewell was third in the competition, organised by The Caterer and sponsored by Moët & Chandon Champagne.
Commenting on his win, Five Fields London head sommelier Camilleri said: "It's been a long journey. Those that know me know how important this is to me.
"I arrived in the UK five years ago from Paris and I thought I'd stay one year to improve my English.
"But I've met fantastic people that have believed in me and trained me and I've managed to achieve this. This is true happiness. I just wanted to show everyone how much I love this job. It's a true passion."
At the beginning of the day 12 sommeliers completed three tests, before being reduced to six. After more assessments, the six were whittled down to final three, who competed in the grand final in front of a live audience.
They were submitted to a gruelling three-hour competition in front of invited guests and a judging panel chaired by Gerard Basset winner of the 2010 Best Sommelier in the World competition.
As part of the competition the finalists were required to inspect a wine list and identify a number of errors (that were not to do with spelling or pricing), undergo blind taste tests of wines and spirits, serve tables of former winners in a restaurant role play situation, and finally to pour a magnum of Moët & Chandon Champagne into 16 glasses.
Each of the finalists showed different strengths but the judges, including Gearoid Devaney, Ronan Sayburn and last year's winner Terry Kandylis, chose Camilleri as the overall winner.
Having won, Camilleri will benefit from mentoring programme and an all-expenses-paid educational trip to one of Europe's top vineyards provided by Matthew Clark, and a Coravin wine preservation system.
The finalists were:
• 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 Faure, head sommelier, the Lanesborough, London
The Moët UK Sommelier of the Year 2017 is sponsored by AdVini, Coravin, Matthew Clark, Searcy's, UCC Coffee, Robert Welch, Winterhalter, and WSET.
The UK Sommelier of the Year competition has been running since 1980 and in that time has recognised the UK's best-known and most lauded sommeliers including Gerard Basset, Ronan Sayburn, Gearoid Devaney and Xavier Rousset.
Now in their 38th year the awards 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.
Videos from The Caterer archives