Loic Avril, of Heston Blumenthal's flagship Fat Duck restaurant in the UK, has been crowned the world's best young sommelier.
Avril (pictured), who earlier this year won the right to represent the UK at the final, was announced as the winner during a ceremony at the French Embassy in Washington, US.
He beat 10 rivals from around the world in what is the seventh year of the competition, sponsored by Chaine des Rotisseurs.
Speaking to decanter.com inbetween studies for the notoriously tough Master Sommelier exams, Avril described the win as an ‘honour’ and ‘one of the best days of my life’.
In a close second and third place were Bobby Conroy, of Benu restaurant in San Francisco, and Jarrod Mills, of Est Restaurant in Sydney, Australia.
‘It is an honour to have competed against my peers at such as prestigious competition,’ added Avril, who was mentored in the competition by the Fat Duck’s head sommelier, Isa Bal MS.
Alongside the prestige, Avril will take home GBP1,000 from the Peter Jones Memorial Fund, as well as an engraved Champagne sabre and an engraved trophy.
The competition, based on the Master Sommelier Advanced Examination, is broken down into three parts: theory, service and blind tasting.
Finalists, who must be less than 27 years old, have to demonstrate their knowledge and skill in an hour-long written test on wine and production, a practical exhibition of service skills and a blind taste assessment of six wines.
Written by Chris Mercer