A fatal stage, also, to the German Jurgen Fendt, though finalist in Athens, in 2004.
On the other hand, David Biraud negotiated perfectly this first challenge, the one that he dreaded the most. “I knew that for me the theory constituted a handicap. I thus spent the first three months of my preparation to cram” recognized the chef Sommelier of the Crillon to explain his progress. He was thus among the semifinalists, together with Gérard Basset (United Kingdom), Iulia Gosea (Rumania), Véronique Rivest (Canada), Merete Bo (Norway), Elyse Lambert (Best Sommelier of Americas - Canada), Paolo Basso (Switzerland), Charles Aymerich (Spain), Franck Moreau (Australia), Sören Polonius (Sweden), Mori Satoru (Best Sommelier of Asia/Oceania - Japan) and Fabio Masi (Italy).
One day of rest and decompression with the discovery of the domain Concha Y Toro, allowed all to put the competition in brackets before the second phase associating, once more, theory, with around thirty questions, and practice. “It was the worst questionnaire ever proposed in six participations” admitted, humbly, Gérard Basset.
"The first subject was made to put us at ease, explained later David Biraud. The context was a Parisian restaurant with two Michelin stars, where a regular customer brings a series of great wines and asks a matching proposition of menu. I enjoyed composing it. But what came next was much more arduous. The wine-producing areas of Greece, the names of the clones of the Pinot noir, the districts of production of Tequila or, also, the identification of rootstocks, from only their code name…"
On the practice side, at first, the sommeliers had first to proceed to the tasting and to the identification of a soft white wine, a red wine and three eaux-de-vie and spirits, within nine minutes.Then they had to compose a food-and-wine match around a red wine intended to accompany a seafood, onion and coriander based dish.
Finally, a staple-cap equiped bottle of champagne was to be served to seven persons within four minutes …
The technical committee, placed under Serge Dubs's and Shinya Tasaki's responsibility, which had got many surprises in store until then, continued the same way. Right from the first test, the candidates were surprised. Not only they had to serve two glasses of champagne to the ladies, but their companions had, for their part, chosen to taste two Negronis. All of a sudden, the sommeliers turned into barmen!
The continuation was more classical. Paolo Basso then David Biraud, did well, each one in his own range. But the future winner, though overcome by a deep doubt three hours before the beginning of this finale, went, him,surfing on a crest of ease, knowledge and complicity with the public. In such a way that his performance became a real show, whose we know now the outcome. His success seemed clearly acquired before the announcement of the honours list.
At this precise moment, he did not react immediately. As if he did not believe in his victory. Then, his face illuminated with a wide and generous smile. The sixth attempt was the right one !.
But before speaking about holidays, to erase the tracks of the tension accumulated during this Chilean week as well as those of the efforts made at a rate of six hours of work a day to be ready the D-day, Gérard Basset shared his success with his wife, Nina, and their son Romané.
An outcome full of love and freshness.
HEight women Sommeliers on fifty one candidates were present in Chile and four of them, Iulia Gosea (Rumania), Véronique Rivest (Canada), Merete Bo (Norway), Elyse Lambert (Best Sommelier of Americas - Canada), reached the semi-final. But they have not just been excellent, creating the hope that, very soon, one of her will attain the heights of the profession, they also swiped the Honourable Mentions! The Acqua Panna - San Pellegrino Prize went to Iulia Gosea and the Peter Lehmann Prize to Véronique Rivest.
If the Association of the Chilean Sommeliers, with «Wines of Chile», was anxious to bring the organization of this 13th Contest to a successful conclusion, the earthquake which struck the country marked deeply the hearts as well as the vineyards. The associations member of the ASI thus decided to show their support for this country with a strong gesture and Philippe Faure-Brac, treasurer, handed a $21,000 check over to Hector Vergara, President of the ASC, during the closing gala dinner of the competition.
The next big competition of the Association of Sommellerie Internationale will take place in Strasbourg, from November 20th till 23rd of this year. We shall know then the name of the new Best Sommelier of Europe, at the end of this meeting set on the edges of the Rhine by the Union of French Sommellerie and the Interprofessional Committee of Wines of Alsace, whose President, Jean-Nicolas Schaeffer, was present in Chile to deliver the details of the program.
The new Best Sommelier of Asia and Oceania will be crowned in South Korea in 2012, when the 14th World Competition will be organized the following year in Japan.