On Monday Moët UK Sommelier of the Year 2015 regional final was held in Grosvenor House. It all started few weeks ago with the first round. A questionnaire was sent out to each participant and we had time 7 days to complete it and send it back. This was too easy and I really can´t figure out the point of it.
So the competition which started 10 am on Monday was regional finals for those who passed the first test. The first task was theoretical test which consisted of 50 questions + a blind tasting of 4 wines. Questions were really good, covering geography, grape varietals, history, producers etc. Thing to note that there were no multiple choice questions in the test. Overall I can say that the test consisted of things I knew, things which are basic knowledge and of those what I just could not memorize or figure out. Here are some example questions:
Name the AOC of Bordeaux where are these wineries coming? Hosanna, Cantemerle, Haut-Marbuzet, Chateau Malartic Lagraviere.
Name the AOC which uses Prunelard, Duras and Mauzac grapes?
Where are following producers coming from: Axe Hill, Chambers..
When Jimmy Hendrix was born in 1942 a very famous rose wine brand was created in Portugal. Name it!
Name the previous name for these wine regions: Grignan-les-Adhemar, Wagram, Tejo ..
During that 1 hour we had to blind taste 4 wines. A special sheet was for it and we had to write down 5 things only: 1. Grape 2. Origin of country 3. Region 4. Year 5. ABV. And that was great! No need to waste time for writing long descriptions of systematic approach. Just sniff, analyse and write. There was 2 whites and 2 reds. First white was probably the most easiest – Sauvignon blanc 2013 from New-Zealand. Second wine was also no brainer – Gewürztraminer 2013 from Alsace. For me the 3rd wine was also easy which most people though its a Barbera?! I wrote Pinot Noir, Burgundy which was correct answer – and it was Louis Jadot Monthelie 2011.The last red wine was very mileading. I was stuck with between Dolcetto and Barbera. It had a little nose of candy-caramel combination with red fruits. The palate was medium body, red berries, medium acidity etc – absolute expression of Barbera. But still I wasn´t very satisfied with my answer. Many answered it Syrah. The correct answer was basic inexpensive Uco Valley (Argentina) Malbec 2013 by Salentein. Everybody was stunned! As I spoke with my lecturer Jim Gore at WSET of that unusual Malbec the only logical way he explained that it would have been modified with carbonic maceration. But would never guessed it to be Malbec from Argentina.
The next task was an 3 min interview separately with 3 judges. During that 3 min we had to explain what kind of attributes, abilities has to have Head Sommelier who will be hired to manage main resturant also creat wine lists for sister resturants, run sommelier team, buy wines, fill revenue etc.
After that we went on a break. 3 pm 4 best competitors were announced. Unfortunately I don´t know their names or where are they coming. I think in total there was around 20-25 most men with the average age 35-45. And 3 women including me.
So the first 4 started with semifinals. Each participant had to start with decanting task with classical 5 min time. The second task was recommending wines to a 6 course menu. They had to recommend 3 wines, no more than £ 80 each.
For the final task they had to recognize and describe 3 different cheeses on a board. Tell a full technical description to a glass of white wine next to it. Name a cheese what matches with the wine. And recommend a British dish what would go with it. All the cheese including the white wine were from England. Cheddar Wookey Hole, Stilton La Cave, Goats Cheese Bosworth Ash and the wine was Camel Valley Bacchus http://www.camelvalley.com/wines-and-shop/still-wines/2013-camel-valley-bacchus/
Finals will be held in Montcalm Hotel , 8th of June 2015.