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Standardizing the trade ahead of the 13th World Contest

ASI General Assembly

ASI G.A. France

ASI General Assembly
Standardizing the trade ahead of the 13th World Contest

The sommellerie trade is under the spotlight more than ever: more united, better identified and more popular too. Evidence of that popularity: the welcome that awaited ASI members at the latest edition of Vinexpo. About a hundred ASI members had chosen to desert Bordeaux’s sunny weather to attend one conference after another and to participate in debates regarding the evolution and new challenges of the trade especially in light of the next world contest in 2010 in Santiago de Chile. Wine and spirits experts, food and beverages service specialists, fine tradition connoisseurs, diplomats… Sommeliers have worked their way to standardizing the trade, asserting themselves as the reference of the luxury and gastronomy world, relying on their high qualifications to promote their products. Serge Dubs emphasizes that the ultimate target for sommeliers is to, in all humility, give satisfaction to clients who have come to enjoy a good meal.

This period of transition in the sommellerie trade was therefore at the heart of all the conferences of the 2009 edition of Vinexpo focusing on these new “stars” of service. The agenda of the ASI general assembly placed a great emphasis on the creation of a standardized continuing education program for sommeliers, or even in the future, a Chief Sommelier diploma certified by the ASI. This has become a matter of priority as two important dates approach: the World’s Best Sommelier contest, with Chile’s bicentenary as a backdrop, and the fortieth anniversary of an ever growing ASI. 2010: an effervescent year to come

Shinya Tasaki and Michèle Chantôme, from the ASI technical commission in charge of contest organization, sent the World’s Best Sommelier contest rules to all associations following the general assembly held in Sochi. As there is often high mobility amongst sommeliers in tourist areas, certain members called for the amendment of article 2b which now sets at three the number of years experience a candidate must have in a particular country. This clause also prohibits candidates from representing different countries in two successive contests. Any candidate disrespecting this competition clause faces exclusion. The general rules of the World contest have been approved subject to the mention of the above clauses.

A succession of competitions

Successfor the first edition of the Best Sommelier of the Americas contest. Another first, The ASI Competition for Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceania, November 15-18th 2009 in Osaka.

The 1st edition will take place on November 15-18th 2009 in Osaka under the supervision of the ASI Technical Commission. A welcome evening will be organized by Peter Lehmann Wines from the Barossa Valley. The ASI general assembly will be held on November 26th from 9 am until 1 pm, followed by the Competition for Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceania. On November 17th, there will be a trip to Uji (World Heritage), including a tour of the Sakagura company, the region’s main sake producer. On November 18th, there will be an opportunity to take a guided tour of a domain in Kobe, before the results are given out. The candidates will celebrate the Beaujolais Nouveau’s arrival at midnight, before flying back to their respective countries on November 19th. Chile, host of the World Contest in April 2010
The Chile Association of Sommeliers will host this competition at the same time as the country celebrates its bicentenary. Hector Vergara, Chairman of the Chilean Association, and Ricardo Grellet, Chile’s Best Sommelier 2008, have prepared a brochure for all the national associations’ chairmen. The contest will start on April 12th at 9am. The first tests of the world, San Pellegrino, Peter Lehmann and CIVA contests will be followed by a tasting evening of red Chilean wines. On April 13th, the candidates will be invited to a tasting session of the Best Chilean Crus in the Cachapoal Valley. The semi-final will take place on April 14th from 3 pm till 6.30 pm. The event will end with the prize-giving ceremony. For those who may wish to prolong their stay, Wines of Chile – the association that promotes 90 Chilean domains, represented by Jean Somavia, is offering further vineyard tours.

The ASI member associations will receive all the information via email and will have until December 20th 2009 to register their candidates, staff and journalists.
France, host of the European contest
in 2010 (20-23 November, Strasbourg The UDSF, chaired by Serge Dubs, will organize the event in collaboration with the CICA, represented by its Chairman M. Schaeffer and its Public Relations officer Thierry Fritsch. From November 20th, candidates will be accommodated on Alsace Cruise Boats. The quarter and semi-finals will take place on Sunday 21st followed by a Syrah gala evening organised by Peter Lehmann Wines. The final will be held on Monday 22nd in Strasbourg’s Palais des Congrès, which can seat a thousand people.
The ASI General Assembly will start on November 23rd at 9am with, on the agenda, the election of the ASI president and his bureau. Overall, the event promises to be an auspicious occasion with Serge Dubs reminding us that France has already proved its organizational abilities with the 2006 European Best Sommelier Contest. The CIVA, now also an ASI partner, has already contributed to the European Best Sommelier Contest 2008 in Sofia. As in Bulgaria, competitions for Alsatian wine (CIVA) and for Syrah wines (Peter Lehmann Shiraz Sommelier Award) will be organized at semi-final level.
Countries wishing to organize the next World’s Best Sommelier Contest 2013 can apply now.
. Standardized training
The ASI didactic commission – Anne-Marie Foidl, Chairwoman of the Austrian Association of Sommeliers, Mischa Billing (Sweden) and William Wouters (Belgium) – has submitted a questionnaire to each chairman in order to look at the sommelier training in each country. The ASI will then be able to provide details of all the different levels of qualification, from basic training up to the level of Chief Sommelier, with a view to creating an ASI certified diploma.

Proposal for a partnership with
the Court of Master Sommeliers

The question was raised of a possible partnership with the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS), directed by M. Brian Julyan who came to present the CMS in detail to ASI members. This non-profit association is involved in the professional training of sommeliers worldwide. It has established an internationally recognized diploma. Its worldwide status does not permit it to be a member of the ASI but a partnership would create a synergy between the two associations. A US branch of the Court of Master Sommeliers could, eventually, join the APAS and the ASI in the medium term.


From left to right : Masaharu Oka, Giuseppe Vaccarini, Kasuyoshi Kogai, Shinya Tasaki, Jean-Charles Crouin