Welcome to London Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: London ConfidentialNews & Features.

UK Sommelier Of The Year Announced

David Harfield toasts winner Yohann Jousselin

Written by . Published on June 10th 2011.


UK Sommelier Of The Year Announced

BEING a professional sommelier may sound like the perfect life, a life revolving around vintage wines, fine dining and top end restaurants. However, there is a catch; to be at the top of your game you have to study day in, day out to ensure that your perfect palate never loses an iota of its taste. Nonetheless, given that sommeliers’ studying revolves around drinking expensive wine, we won’t feel to sorry for them as they slave away. So, as we enter the world of the wine connoisseur at the Sommelier of the Year Competition, whose ‘studying’ will pay off?

Nonetheless, given that sommeliers’ studying revolves around drinking expensive wine, we won’t feel to sorry for them as they slave away.

The Jumeirah Carlton Tower is located just minutes away from Knightsbridge tube station and is the perfect venue for such an opulent occasion. Sommeliers and wine aficionados from around the world flocked to attend the prestigious event, suited in their finest garbs as they traded tips and anecdotes over frequent ‘Bubbles Breaks’.  As the competition was sponsored by Piper-Heidsieck, the champagne was in full flow, keeping the guests in high spirits as they watched the entrants perform.

At 3pm, all of the finalists were called on stage; they had all been through a plethora of tasks before the event, such as blind tasting and written exams, to get through to the final sixteen and all but the remaining three were given a certificate and a complimentary bottle of vintage Piper-Heidsieck champagne.  The last three competitors were Yohann Jousselin from The Vineyard at Stockcross, Lukasz Kolodziejczyk and Loic Avril, both from The Fat Duck.

Competitor Lukasz KolodziejczykThe stage was then set up for the final competition; two carafes of wine were set upon a table, which the contenders had to identify by region, grape variety and then offer a food pairing suggestion that would suit the wine’s taste. In addition to this, there were five mystery containers for the contenders to identify by smell, which were not wines but liqueurs and spirits. After they had completed this, they had to spot errors on a wine list, which was projected on a screen behind them for the whole room to see; the errors weren’t in spelling or pricing but in incorrect grape regions and bottling definitions. Oh, and they had fifteen minutes to complete it. What pressure!

All three contenders displayed extensive knowledge and skill in identifying the wines and liqueurs and passed through to the next stage with aplomb. After a brief Bubbles Break where guests could charge their glasses for the final round, it was back into the competition hall where the stage had been laid out like a restaurant, with the panel of judges, (which included wine and food writer Nick Lander and Ian Harris, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust), sitting on two tables, ready to test the sommeliers in a role playing environment.  The competitors were asked to serve the tables in turn and deal with two problems that could come up in any restaurant environment. To begin, they had to recommend a five-course menu based on fish, with matching wines for each course; they all dealt with this with grace and ease, yet it was Yohann who injected a little humour into the proceedings, asking “The dessert, does this have to be fish?!”  Such a deft and personable touch earmarked him as a sommelier with natural confidence; never has subservience looked so masterful.

Winner Yohann Jousselin looking cool, calm and collectedAfter having to deal with an apparent shard of broken glass in one of the judge’s glasses, (a red herring, it was actually tartrate crystals of sediment from the Sauvignon Blanc), a Fawlty Towers-esque situation arose in which one of the tables had ordered four Armagnacs of varying vintages, but the barman had mixed up the order, and could the sommelier please identify which drink was from which year by smell alone? It was an impressive trick to pull off, only bettered by the final task in which the competitors had to pour sixteen level glasses of champagne from the same bottle without finishing it.

All three competitors received a well-deserved round of applause and they retired for a welcome drink whilst guests were ushered into the dining hall where a five course meal, (complete with matching champagne pairings, naturally), awaited them. We took this opportunity to chat to Master Sommelier Christopher Delalonde who won the much sought after award of ‘Sommelier of the Year’ in 2010.  “To win the Sommelier of the Year award is like winning the Oscar of the wine world; it is a huge accolade and one that opened many doors for me, as it will for this evening’s winner.”

Winner Yohann Jousselin and runner up Lukasz KolodziejczykAfter the indulgent and impressive meal that took haute cuisine to a whole new level, the results were announced. As the announcer stated, this year’s winner was a deserved one, seeing as he had come 3rd and 2nd place in the last two competitions, so it seemed only right that Yohann Jousselin took to the stage to collect his trophy along with an all-expenses paid trip for two to Champagne, courtesy of Piper-Heidsieck, which includes a personal tasting with the company’s Chef de Caves, Régis Camus.

A fantastic evening was had by all and we wish Yohann all the best for the coming year, especially with his trip to Champagne…well, he’ll need a break from all that ‘studying’, won’t he?!

Follow @iPhoneAppCafe on Twitter

Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
OR CREATE AN ACCOUNT HERE..
Or you can login using Facebook.

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2017

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code