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Best Sommelier of France Competition

Selection for the final stages

Contest Fontevraud l’Abbaye

Selection for the final stages of the

Best Sommelier of France Competition

Eight candidates dream of succeeding Manuel Peyrondet

Next January 16th and 17th, it is in the Val de Loire, at the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, that the eight competitors selected for the semi-finale will meet. Some have already won a contest, others have an experience of a finale, and two of them, at last, reveal themselves on the national scene.

The candidats and Serge Dubs
For the first time since the UDSF has taken the reins of the Best Sommelier of France Contest, it is in a unique site that the first grand selection has taken place. Thirty nine candidates, on the forty three that initially subscribed, encountered in the lounges of the Hôtel Baltimore in Paris.
A lot already have tried their luck in different competitions but, “many of them stood for the first time and had the courage in this way to take a new look at themselves...” Serge Dubs, President of the UDSF, wanted to underline. This discovery has not always been easy.

A selection turned towards the international

Indeed, once again the technical committee had devised tests able to reveal the best prepared contestants. The members, also, expected a bit more than last year. The perfect command of the language was even more required. Not only a tasting and analysis of two red wines (Château Saint Martin de la Garrigue, Grès de Montpellier 2006; Trilogia dels Frares, Valencia 2006) was asked, but a comment of them had to be done in English. The participants also had to study an article published in the American press, in order to answer a few questions in English again...
The opening to the world was not limited to that. Amongst the three eaux-de-vie and spirits that had to be identified, a Schochu – Japanese product mixing rice, barley, sweet potato and potato - had slipped between a raspberry eau-de-vie and a Bénédictine.
In addition to this, every candidate had to answer two tests with 50 questions each: one illustrated with a slide show, and the other a bit more classical. Let’s bet the morning has been hard.

Technical comittee

A nice ‘show’

After the correction, eight candidates clearly stood out. They will go on the trip to the banks of the Loire for the following of the contest that seems to be promising, in view of the level of the competitors. We have indeed two Best Young Sommeliers of France: Antoine Petrus, last winner of the Trophée Ruinart and Jonathan Bauer-Monneret, first of the Trophée Duval-Leroy. Romain Iltis is the Master of Port 2008. Pierre Vila-Palleja has been acknowledged as the best at the Trophée Chapoutier. Pascaline Lepeltier and Benjamin Roffert were present in 2008 in Perpignan during the finale won by Manuel Peyrondet.
At the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, Guillaume Fauvreau and Florent Martin will be less experienced. But in the end of September, in Paris, they proved that this lack of markers was not a handicap. And let’s not forget to mention that the first won the Georges Baptiste prize in 2009 – in special skills that are more those of a maître d’hôtel, whereas the second was consecrated in Portugal five years ago at the European rank of the same contest…

Jean Bernard

In the race for the title

They will be 8 semi-finalists on Sunday, January 16th. The day after, only 4 will remain for the finale in public. A few hours later, only one of them will smile:
Jonathan Bauer-Monneret (Constance Belle Mare Plage, in Mauritius),
Guillaume Favreau (La Côte Saint-Jacques, à Joigny),
Romain Iltis (La verte vallée, in Munster),
Pascaline Lepeltier (Rouge Tomate, in New York),
Florent Martin (Four seasons hôtel Georges V, in Paris),
Antoine Petrus (Le Crillon, in Paris),
Benjamin Roffet (Trianon Palace, in Versailles),
Pierre Vila Palleja (Le Crillon, in Paris).

The Candidates