The Champagne Boutique

Christopher Delalonde named UK Sommelier of the Year 2010

In Events, Sommeliers on April 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm

On Wednesday 28th April, at the uber-chic Westbury Hotel in Mayfair, the competition for Best UK Sommelier of the year took place. Organised by the Academy of Food and Wine Service where la Crème de la Crème of Britain Sommeliers took on a full day of competition in order to find the best of them.

This year has seen 15 semi-finalists representing all the regions of the country. (Garry Clark of the Chester Grovesnor, Remi Cousin of The Fat Duck, Christopher Delalonde of Sarment Wines, Sergio Dos Santos of The Atlantic Hote, Bavand Foroughi of Claridges, Yohann Josselin of The Vineyard at Stockcross, Jan Konetzki of Gordon Ramsay, David Kubler of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Erica Laler of Texture, Phillipe Moranges of Hakkasan, Mark Perlaki of Hotel du Vin Harrogate, Stephen Raducki of The Pont de la Tour, Laurent Richet of Hotel Terravina, Clement Robert of Summer Lodge and Magda Saleh of La Trompette)

From the list we could see that there would be a battle within the battle as a few finalists are assistants of former winners!

After a morning of wine tasting and written exams three finalists were chosen. Two of them would have to fight one another again as they were both finalists last year, Christopher Delalonde and Yohann Josselin. The third finalist is a newcomer in his debut competition, Clement Robert and is the assistant of Eric Zwiebel MS at Summer Lodge Hotel. So it became a “Franco-French Final!’’

The first task was to describe and identify a white wine and also identify a red wine and three spirits. Two of them identified wine #1 as a Gewurtztraminer and Clement a Riesling ,to find out it was a Torrontes from Argentina.

The second task was a wine list correction to which each one of them did very well.

For the practical exam it was the most difficult we have seen for over ten years on stage, with two tables with all former best sommeliers acting as guests. One table of two with Gearoid Devanney and Laura Rhys and a table of four with Claire Thevenot, Nicolas Clerc, Alan Holmes and Matthieu Longueres MS. For 15 minutes each candidate had to perform a red wine decanting, a digestive suggestion and service. The table of four were acting as wealthy clients who had a six course menu starting by oyster and caviar, asparagus and parma ham, turbot in a light shellfish broth, foie gras terrine, beef Wellington and truffle and a tart tatin to finish. For each dish the sommelier had to recommend a wine from a different decade starting the 1950s…tough!

So how did they perform? Well they have been all three outstanding performers. Yohann displayed absolutely perfect technical skills and great organisation skills with perfect timing. Clement really ticked all the boxes and has been very professional throughout. Christopher, who was the first candidate to go on stage, was very comfortable, confident and very entertaining winning the heart of the judges and the public.

The last task was to serve a magnum of champagne into equal 16 glasses.

The assembly resumed for a champagne reception and joined again for a gourmet dinner where two winners were announced. First, winning the Best Young UK Sommelier of the Year was Clement Robert, so well done to him. The winner of the UK Sommelier of the Year 2010 was Christopher Delalonde which was very well deserved; runner-up was Yohann Josselin and third was Clement.

Overall the competition was of premium quality; all candidates were truly impressive so we would like to congratulate all three of them for a great achievement.


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