Young Sommeliers Competition - 2010

Thursday 27 May saw the 3rd annual national final of The Chaîne International Young Sommelier of the Year Competition, held at the Gaggenau showroom in Central London.

The winner was announced as Clement Robert (24) from The Summer Lodge in Evershot, Dorset. Previously Head Sommelier at Hotel du Vin, Cambridge, Clement is now under the supervision of Eric Zwiebel, Head Sommelier of The Summer Lodge and previous runner-up in the World’s Best Sommelier competition. The panel of judges said all contestants demonstrated tremendous skill and precocious talent in their field. As well as the prestigious title of UK Young Sommelier of the Year, Clement received prizes from Riedel glassware and Gaggenau as well a trip to Australia to visit Pernod Ricard’s wineries. Second place in the competition was awarded to Erica Laler of Texture restaurant, London for the second year in a row and third was awarded to Loic Avril, the protégée of Isa Bal at the Fat Duck in Bray.

International Young Sommeliers Competition 2010 - Santander

The GB competitor wins the International Young Sommelier Competition for the second year in a row! Bravo Clement Robert.

Travel to Santander was fraught with difficulties for the competitors, judges and supporters alike in 2010 due to air traffic control problems in France – it took some 23 hours just from the UK! Happily, this was soon forgotten as a group of young competitors from as far apart as China, South Africa and the US came to know each other as they prepared to fight it out for the coveted title of winner of the Chaîne’s annual International Young Sommelier Competition.

Clement Robert, whom many of you will have met at our Grand Chapître earlier in October when he received his trophy as winner of our national competition, was in Santander to represent GB. He had put in another four months of study and training since the national competition to ready himself for this event. The competitors spent a day visiting local food and wine producers in the area. What wines can you match with sardines, prepared in 50 different ways, or perhaps Cabrales, the famed blue cheese made in the Picos de Europa? Then straight into the competition, which was held in the Hotel Real on Friday 22 October.

The main judges were all both Chaîne Maître Sommeliers and Master Sommeliers, having reached that standard as awarded by the Court of Master Sommeliers worldwide. Brian Julyan, the CEO of the Court, chaired the group together with Bryan Dawes, Frank Kramer and Christopher Delalonde.

After a tough competition, which finished at the end of the afternoon, the competitors were kept on tenterhooks not knowing the outcome until dinner that evening. The results were announced by Klaus Tritschler, Bailli Délégué of Germany, and Marie Jones, Member of the Conseil d’Administration. The winner of the 2010 competition - Clement Robert. A great result and a deserving reward for his skill and hard work. Clement works in the Summer Lodge Hotel in Dorset, one of the Red Carnation Group. His General Manager, Maître Hotelier Charles Lotter, said that he returned to work with a very big smile on his face!

Congratulations also to Michael Meagher from the United States coming second, and Nikolaos Giannopoulos from Greece for third place.

The importance support from the hotel or restaurant management to the competition cannot be understated. Clement was coached by his head sommelier Eric Zwiebel, who in turn was earlier mentored by Gerard Basset. Charles Lotter commented “Encouraging staff to take part in competitions and giving them the time to compete has many benefits. It provides encouragement to young staff to reach higher standards and obtain the rewards that follow, it gives better job satisfaction, it raises the professionalism of the hotel and thus improves customer satisfaction and, finally, raises the profile of the establishment.”

In 2011, our national competition finals will take place on 23 March in London and the international finals will be in Athens on 16 September. Any hotel or restaurant wishing to enter a competitor should contact Gerard Basset, Echanson or Philip Evins.

Winner, Clement Roberts (centre) with Judges
Klaus Tritschler, Marie Jones, Clement Robert and Philip Evins