Yohann Jousselin, head sommelier at the Hotel du Vin in Winchester, has won the national heat of the 2009 Châine des Rôtisseurs' International Young Sommelier of the Year competition.
Jousselin, 25, impressed a panel of judges including Decanter consultant editor Steven Spurrier, Xavier Rousset, founder of London’s Texture Restaurant, and Gerard Basset MW, owner of the TerraVina hotel in the New Forest and former co-owner of the Hotel du Vin chain.
‘There was one clear winner,’ Spurrier said.
‘The judges debated second place, which went to a brilliantly intuitive individual who did not communicate her knowledge quite as well.’
Open to sommeliers between 21 and 35, the competition comprises a 50-question written test, a blind tasting and a service section.
‘The hardest part was the blind tasting because no matter how much you know, you might just have a bad day and get everything wrong,’ said Jousselin.
‘These competitions are fun and they give you a chance to compare yourself against others, to see your strengths and weaknesses. I think I need to brush up on my knowledge of bartending.’
Jousselin beat six others, including second-place winner Erica Laler, 24 (who works at Texture) and Daniel Kubini, 26 (of Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons), who came third.
Jousselin – who also placed third in the 2009 UK Sommelier of the Year competition – will next compete in September for the top prize of International Young Sommelier of the Year.
Launched in 2007 and co-sponsored by Gaggenau and Pernod Ricard, the competition provides participants the chance to develop and demonstrate their skills at the regional, national and international level.
Written by Maggie Rosen