Yohann Jousselin was named Piper-Heidsieck UK Sommelier of the Year last night – third time lucky after losing in the final in the previous two years.
L-R: Christian Holthausen (Piper Heidseck), Yohann Jousselin, Victor Lanson (First Drinks) and Roy Ackerman (AFWS)
Jousselin, head sommelier at The Vineyard at Stockcross in Newbury, Berkshire, held off a strong challenge from Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Bray, which supplied the other two finalists, Loic Avril and Lukasz Kolodziejczyk.
Kolodziejczyk, 29, was named runner-up in the competition, held at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London, and also scooped the Young Sommelier of the Year title.
The three sommeliers, selected from an initial line-up of 16 finalists, were put through their paces with a series of demanding tests in front of a live audience.
A judging panel headed by Gérard Basset MS MW, technical director at competition organiser the Academy of Food and Wine Service (AFWS), watched on as the contestants completed a blind tasting, corrected mistakes on a wine list and underwent a tough restaurant role-playing scenario.
The tasks culminated in the Champagne pour, during which a magnum of Champagne had to be poured into 16 glasses equally, without returning to any glass.
‘Yohann’s experience won through on the day,’ said Basset. ‘He was the more complete sommelier – he has very good service skills and has that extra flair that the judges were looking for.’
Meanwhile, Catherine Ward-Brown from London was crowned as the Amateur Sommelier of the Year in a competition organised by the AFWS in association with Decanter.com.
Written by Richard Woodard