Loic Avril of Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck has been named 2013 Young Sommelier of the Year.
Avril (above) will now represent the UK at the finals in Washington DC in October later this year.
In second place was Bouger Romain of the Vineyard at Stockcross, and in third place was Avril’s colleague, Lukasz Jan Kolodziejczyk of The Fat Duck.
Both Avril and Kolodziejczyk were mentored by Isa Bal, currently competing in the Best Sommelier in the World Competition in Tokyo.
The judges praised the ‘exceptional skill and knowledge’ of the contestants. The final placing was very close, they said.
Chairman of judges Gerard Basset MS MW said, ‘This year we had a noticeable increase in the number of entrants for the competition. The quality of the contestants never ceases to impress the judges and this year was no exception. Each of the contestants demonstrated great passion for their craft and flair and we have high hopes for Avril in the International Finals later this year.’
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 – must 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.
Prizes include a Champagne sabre from Gaggenau, glasses from Schott Zwiesel, and a trip to Turkey for both the first and second placed winners.
The Young Sommelier of the Year award is sponsored by international gastronomic society Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
Written by Adam Lechmere