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13th A.S.I. Contest of the Best Sommelier of Europe

A Swede crowned on the Riviera

Arvid Rosengren is the third Swedish sommelier to win the title. David Biraud (France) and Julia Scavo (Romania) also climbed on the podium after a final worthy of a world competition.

In the mild early autumn, Arvid Rosengren thus made history of the European sommellerie. Semi-finalist of the same contest three years before in Strasbourg, outstanding at the same stage at the last world contest in Japan, the young professional impressed by his mastery, knowledge and style on stage of the Casino of Sanremo.

It all began a few steps further, in a room away from the noise of the gambling machines, two days before. Apart from Albania whose candidate was absent, the 36 other countries in the race were represented as from the very first test.


A classical one, a questionnaire requiring to be rapid as the competitors had only one hour to complete it. Two wines, a white and a red, to taste and comment, and three spirits to recognize complemented the morning programme, whereas the afternoon consisted of a practical test: to decant and serve a wine for two customers bothered by the slightly too warm temperature, in order to study the candidates’ reaction.

The jury then had enough elements to rank them and keep the first ten for the next day’s semi-finals.

Four French in semi-finals

Ten names that were unveiled after Paul Brunet for the sommeliers and Irish Andrew O’Gorman in the category Journalists were awarded the prize Emozioni. Among the semi-finalists, many French: David Biraud of course, but also Julie Dupouy (Ireland), Rodolphe Chevalier (Luxembourg) and Éric Zwiebel (United Kingdom).

The six others were Julia Scavo (Romania), Aristide Spies, the Belgian finalist of the world contest, Christian Thorsholt Jacobsen (Denmark), Matteo Ghiringhelli (Italy), Francesco Azzarone (Norway) and Jon Arvid Rosengren (Sweden).

High-level professionals who had to face very traditional tests: two wines served fresh, one rosé (Tres Obispos 2012, Spain) and one red (Golden Triangle Shiraz 2009, South Africa), for a commented tasting that finished with the identification of a product and its country of origin. Three spirits had to be recognized: Gammel Dansk Bitter Dram (Denmark), Vieille Eau-de-Vie de Prunes d’Ente (France), Tequila 1921 (Mexico).

Arvid Rosengren

Then in another room, an exercise of stock management preceded the service of a glass of (corked) white wine to a customer and of a bottle of red wine to her table companion. In the same décor, the candidates then had to decide about a food and wine pairing: a glass of sake and two pieces of cheese (Parmesan and Mozarella). Each of them had to make his choice and justify it …

Feminine finals

On the last day of competition, three only were on stage in public and discover a series of tests calling on the theoretical and practical knowledge of a wine professional in the restaurant business.

And like in Tokyo on last April a female sommelier reached the finals and took the third place. Flying the colours of Romania but coming from Nice where she works at L’Âne rouge, Julia Scavo controlled her stress and perfectly took up the challenge. Fifth at the world contest, the former teacher confirmed the breadth of her talents and her progress. Her fighting spirit leads her to be present in Argentina in 2016.

As for David Biraud, he weathered a difficult patch in Japan although he was among the favourites. A defeat he has turned the page of. He wanted to become again the pure sommelier he is daily in the gastronomic restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental Paris. A successful choice. Relaxed, even at ease, so much so that he made forget that he was competing at the finals of a contest, the professional native from the Vendée unfortunately failed during the tasting. Exactly where his Swedish competitor made the difference …

The Frenchman thus felt rightfully disappointed. Yet his return to the forefront with the second place, like in 2010, may encourage him to continue the adventure of the great contests until 2016.

As for the winner … he has already planned to be in Argentina!

Jean Bernard