Yohann Jousselin is the new UK Sommelier of the Year 2011

It was third time lucky yesterday for French head sommelier Yohann Jousselin, 27, from The Vineyard at Stockcross in Newbury, Berkshire, who was last night crowned the 2011 Piper-Heidsieck UK Sommelier of the Year in the prestigious competition organised by the Academy of Food and Wine Service (AFWS).

In 2010 Yohann came second in the competition and in 2009 he was placed third. This year he was determined to win: “It’s quite a relief,” he said after receiving his award. “I wanted to get there and I felt on a high during the competition and quite relaxed throughout. It was a tough competition this year and although I felt I made a few mistakes, I am delighted to win.”

In an intense day of competition Yohann beat an impressive line-up of 16 sommeliers to a place in the grand final alongside two sommeliers from the Fat Duck in Bray. These were senior sommelier Loic Avril, 25, who was awarded a prize for scoring the highest mark in the blind tasting, and the eventual runner-up Polish-born Lukasz Kolodziejczyk, 29, who was also awarded the Young Sommelier of the Year prize for the youngest competitor to get the furthest in the competition.

In the grand final, staged in front of a live audience at London’s Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel, the three sommeliers each completed a demanding restaurant role-play situation in which they were asked to recommend wines to match the customers’ food choice, invent a fish-based menu with accompanying wines and identify the vintages of four glasses of Armagnac. The finalists also had to demonstrate their diplomacy by dealing with a customer who thought she had shards of glass in her wine, but which were in fact tartrate crystals, the sediment that can occur in white wine.

The finalists went on to complete a blind tasting, correct mistakes on a wine list and execute the perfect Champagne pour in which a magnum of champagne had to be poured equally into 16 flutes without returning to any of them. The results of the competition were announced at the Sommelier’s Dinner last night, attended by nearly 200 guests.

Chief judge and AFWS technical director Gerard Basset MS, MW, said that this year’s competition had been particularly tough with some very challenging tasks. “Yohann’s experience won through on the day, he was the more complete sommelier – he has very good service skills and has that extra flair that the judges were looking for. The final three were all of a fantastic standard.”

This year’s panel of judges included: wine and food writer Nick Lander; Gerard Basset MS, MW; Matt Wilkin MS, AFWS director; Victor Lanson, marketing controller, First Drinks; and Ian Harris, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

Along with the winner’s trophy Yohann wins an all-expenses paid trip for two to Champagne, courtesy of Piper-Heidsieck, including a personal tasting with the company’s Chef de Caves, Régis Camus.

The Academy of Food and Wine Service also presented the Amateur Sommelier of the Year award, held in association with Decanter.com and the Wine Guild of the United Kingdom, to Catherine Ward-Brown from London. Catherine, whose tasks included a virtual wine and food-matching exercise was praised for her forward-thinking and progressive approach, which weren’t over-reliant on traditional pairings.

High resolution photographs of the event can be downloaded by clicking here.

For further information or to interview the winning sommelier, please contact:

Academy of Food and Wine Service
Linda Pettit
T. 01737 823721, M. 07973 789853, Linda@tilburstowmedia.co.uk

Piper-Heidsieck UK
Martha Williamson
T. 0207 491 9903 M. 07894 683873. Martha@sidhuandsimon.com

About the 2011 Champagne Piper-Heidsieck UK Sommelier of the Year

The competition, now in its 32nd year, is open to professional sommeliers and waiting staff working in the UK.

All entrants achieving 75% on an initial written questionnaire were selected to go through to one of four regional finals. This year a record 70 sommeliers competed in the regional heats. The 16 sommeliers selected to go through to the finals include the top scoring candidates from the regional finals and last year’s runner-up.

This year’s finalists were:

Wiremu Andrews, Hotel du Vin & Bistro, Cheltenham

Loic Avril, The Fat Duck, Bray
Arnaud Bardary, Galvin at Windows, London W1
Tobias Brauweiler, Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham
Remi Cousin, The Fat Duck, Bray
Sergio Dos Santos, Atlantic Hotel, Jersey
Bavand Foroughi, Claridge’s, London W1
Michael Jenni, L’Autre Pied, London W1
Yohann Jousselin, The Vineyard at Stockcross, Newbury
Lukasz Kolodziejczyk, The Fat Duck, Bray
Kathrine Larsen, Le Pont de la Tour, London SE1
Philippe Moranges, Hakkasan, London W1
Adam Pawlowski, Northcote, Blackburn
Mark Perlaki, Hotel du Vin & Bistro, Harrogate
Stephen Raducki, Lime Wood, Lyndhurst
Clement Robert, Medlar Restaurant, London SW10.

The finalists’ wine skills and knowledge is testing in a morning of intense competition from which three sommeliers were chosen to go through to the afternoon’s grand final.

The winner was awarded with a trophy and a trip to the House of Champagne Piper-Heidsieck in the Champagne region of France including a tasting with Chef de Caves Régis Camus. At the dinner the winner of the Academy’s UK Amateur Sommelier of the Year, being held in association with Decanter.com, was also announced.

Last year’s Champagne Piper-Heidsieck UK Sommelier of the Year was Christopher Delalonde, from London-based wine sourcing service Sarment Wines. Christopher won praise for his extensive wine knowledge and excellent service skills.

About the Academy
The Academy of Food and Wine Service (AFWS), established in 1988, is the professional body for front-of-house service. It is dedicated to improving the status and awareness of food and beverage service as a viable career choice, raising standards across the industry and encouraging teamwork with other colleagues. AFWS can offer advice and training to anyone following, or considering, a career as a sommelier, wine waiter, waiter, bar manager or restaurant manager. www.afws.co.uk.

About Piper-Heidsieck
Champagne Piper-Heidsieck was founded in 1785 by Florens-Louis Heidsieck. Since its creation, Champagne Piper-Heidsieck has always been associated with the greats and the goods; from Marie Antoinette Queen of France to Marilyn Monroe. Champagne Piper-Heidsieck is now the third largest Champagne exporter. With its British distributor, First Drinks, the emphasis for the brand is to gain new distribution channels in the on-trade.

Champagne Piper-Heidsieck has been part of the Rémy Cointreau group since 1988 and benefits from the expertise of the celebrated Chef de Caves Régis Camus. London’s prestigious International Wine Challenge has awarded Régis Camus the Sparkling Winemaker of the Year Trophy in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, which underlines its efforts to be among the best made Champagne.

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