Copa Jerez is back

The search is on to find the UK’s best sommelier and chef team to win the UK Copa Jerez 2022 competition

Chefs and sommeliers at restaurants across the UK are invited to enter the world’s top competition for Sherry.

To take part you both need to work together to create an inventive three-course Sherry-themed menu that will amaze the judges at the UK heat of the 2022 Copa Jerez.

The winning UK team will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Sherry region of Jerez, and will represent the UK at the International Competition of Gastronomy and Sherry Pairing, to be held in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain in October 2023, where they will compete alongside other finalists from the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Spain.

Deadline for full menu entries: 18 September, 2022

Three teams will be selected to compete in the UK finals and will be notified by email before Friday 30 September.
The UK Finals take place on Monday 17 October, 2022.

For more information

Contact competition organiser by email for full details and register your application today.

Submit your entry now: http://www.sherry.wine/copa-jerez

Copa Jerez is organised by Consejo Regulador Jerez y Manzanilla.

Mark Patana

Mark Patana wins Ruinart Sommelier Challenge

Medlar’s Mark Patana has capped a whirlwind 12 months by taking top spot in the Ruinart Challenge.

It’s the 27-year-old’s second win in a year after claiming victory in the Chaine des Rotisseurs last June, and books him a week-long trip to Champagne in the autumn as a VIP guest of Champagne Ruinart.

The competition involved contestants sitting a 40-minute exam during which time they had to blind-taste four wines. This year all four were Chardonnays: Vincent Dauvissat Premier Cru Chablis Les Vaillons 2019, Domaine de la Vougerie Beaune 2018, Domaine Faiveley Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2019 and Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay 2018. Tight, cool-climate and reductive, the latter was the hardest wine for most of the sommeliers to pick.

The tasters wrestle with the four Chardonnays before them. Very few identified the fourth wine.

The entrants had to fill in a tasting sheet for each wine, based on Court of Master Sommelier tasting criteria. As well as aroma and palate descriptors, the 25 contestants had to provide a vintage, assess where each wine was from and describe serving criteria and food-matching suggestions.

‘Doing it in 40 minutes is tight,’ said Mark, ‘and writing it down is a format I’m not used to – I usually talk about the wines. But you’re going to taste some amazing wines.

‘So I tried to relax and say ‘right, let’s have some fun!”

Several of the judges correctly identified most of the wines – including the runners-up, Faidon Dernikos from 67 Pall Mall and Coravin’s Frederic Mounnery, both of whom will receive a magnum of Ruinart.

However, as well as sound tasting skills, it was Mark’s comprehensive and imaginative serving suggestions that made him stand out.

‘We had people who got a lot of the wines right,’ said judge Ronan Sayburn MS of 67 Pall Mall. ‘But he got the added details – the serving and the food matching – which is a sommelier’s job.’

The three winners, Faidon (right), Mark (centre) and Frederic (left) with judges Ronan Sayburn MS (second right), Roxane Dupuy (second left), and Ruinart chef de cave Fred Panaiotis (back middle)

Originally from Milan, Mark is excited about going to Champagne for the first time in his life.

‘I’m most looking forward to going to the crayeres and seeing them with my own eyes,’ he said. ‘Feeling the natural environment and seeing how the wines attain such complexity and maturity. It’ll be very special.’

‘It’s the best trip you can have,’ said Roxane Dupuy, winner of the Swiss heat in 2018 and now of The Twenty Two. ‘You go to places that are not open to the public, with amazing tastings. I met some of my best friends through the Ruinart Challenge.’

Other contestants: Alex Ranzetta, the Royal Exchange
Augusto Gherardi, La Dame de la Pic
Nicholas Sharp, Roots
Grande Millesime

Latest Gosset Grand Millésime hits the UK

If you’ve run out of your 2012 stock of Gosset Grand Millésime then we have good news for you because the 2015 has just landed.

Importers Louis Latour have told the Sommelier Collective that the new vintage arrived this week, slightly earlier than expected.

It’s great news for fans of the oldest wine-producing house in Champagne, who often have to wait many years for vintages to land. Typically only two or three Grand Millésime wines are released every decade, with 2015 following 2012, 2006 and 2004 of recent launches.

Like all of the Gosset wines (bar one ultra brut) the wine sees no malolactic, giving it a characteristically bright line of acidity that helps with the wine’s longevity. With four and a half years in bottle, it receives extended ageing before release. Using fruit from some of the most highly-rated villages in Champagne – including Verzy, Ambonnay, Avize and Trépail, it’s a wine that is drinking well now, but also has many years ahead of it.

We asked Cellar Master, Odilon de Varine, for his take on the latest vintage.

What are the similarities – and differences between Grande Réserve and Grand Millésime?

They share the same Gosset champagne style of extreme freshness balanced with an extra-long maturation on the lees, giving complexity, depth, richness and length to the aroma. However, while Grande Réserve offers a constant year-on-year style, Grand Millésime expresses the uniqueness of the harvest.

It is a memory – a ‘souvenir cuvée’ expressed through the Gosset style.

Odilon de Varine

How does the 2015 Grand Millésime differ from 2012?

At Gosset there is no recipe to compose the blend of every cuvée – and that’s even more true when it comes to vintages, which express the tone of the grapes of the year. So a cuvée can be radically different to the previous one. While our 2012 was a Chardonnay-dominant blend (67%), our 2015 includes 59% of Pinot Noir.

Why the big change?

2015 was a relatively warm year in Champagne, and Chardonnay was quite ripe. So we selected Pinot Noir from particularly fresh terroirs this year. Tasting blind – as we always do – we found the balance we were looking for. It’s an interesting style of Pinot Noir. Aromatic, but fine and fresh.

Have vintage characters altered due to climate change?

Fruit can reach a higher level of maturity more often, and the level of acidity is slightly lower. But the evolution of growing practices (cover crops, ploughing, no fertilisers) is impacting the style of musts and wines in a sensible manner. The replacement of old vines is an issue too. The proportion of musts from younger vines is declining – and we need young vines to keep freshness and liveliness of the musts at their top level.

What food matches do you suggest for the Grand Millésime 2015?

It’s the perfect partner for fruity and spicy dishes, such as chicken in lemongrass, a lamb tagine with lemon and almonds, roasted gambas with pilau rice or griddled vegetables. The wine is both very fresh and very fruity, so it will cut through spices and exotic flavours, but also match any fruity dish, whether it’s sweet or not.

The Gosset Grand Millésime 2015 is available for £46.63 ex VAT from Louis Latour.

Collective members who want to engage more with Gosset should enter the Gosset Matchmakers competition. Open to chef/sommelier teams with less than five years’ experience each, it’s a great chance to show off your creative skills when it comes to food and wine pairings. Plus the winners get a three-day trip to Champagne for a blending masterclass with Odilon himself. So what are you waiting for? Click here for more information, and here to enter.

Odilon and deputy cellar master, Gabrielle Malagou check their handiwork
Chaine des Rotisseurs

Two young star somms win Chaine GB

The results of this year’s Young Professional Awards, run by the Chaine des Rotisseurs have been revealed, with two young sommeliers picking up their first ever competitive prizes.

Freddie Johnson (aged 25) from the Fat Duck at Bray won the Young Sommelier of the Year title and will go on to represent Great Britain in the national finals in Wiesbaden, Germany, in the autumn.

Magdalena Babik (aged 22), from Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, won the Gerard Basset Trophy, awarded for the best score in the blind tasting and food and wine matching sections. Ryan Duffy, of Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, was Highly Commended for his performance.

Freddie started at a culinary school in Woking, but was inspired by a wine course given by John Downes MW, and moved into the world of drinks, joining Vagabond Wines. He followed this up with a degree in wine and business studies at Plumpton College before working at Church Road restaurant in Barnes.

He is one of a team of eight at the Fat Duck, describing his time there as ‘quite a learning curve.

‘I suppose you could call me a rough diamond and I’m now being polished!’

Freddie Johnson

Magdalena has had an equally circuitous route into hospitality, working at a Fullers pub to pay her way through her university course in London, ending up at the Parcel Yard in Kings Cross.

‘I learned so much so quickly, and really loved it,’ she says. ‘That’s why I decided to ditch my studies and become a sommelier.’

On this evidence, they’ve both made great career choices. So very well done to both of the winners – and we hope to see you at an event, tasting or judging session shortly – and to see you rising up through the profession!

Taittinger UK Somm of Year

Finalists announced for Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year

After being postponed for two years because of Covid, the first round of judging has taken place for the 2022 Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year competition.

After a first round that saw competitors from 18 countries and a record 12 female sommeliers the quarter finalists are:

Rudina Arapi, London Hilton on Park Lane

Vincenzo Arnese, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester

Stefano Barbarino, Coravin Wine & Bubbles Bar

Biagio Castaldo, Maison Estelle

Emma Denney, The Clove Club

Gareth Ferreira, Core by Claire Smyth

Christopher Parker, Inn The Park

Phillip Reinstaller, Trivet

Agnieszka Swiecka, The Five Fields

Lorenzo Tonelli, Maison Estelle

Dion Wai, 67 Pall Mall

Elvis Ziakos, TILA

Many congratulations to all of you from us here at the Sommelier Collective! And we hope you enjoy the planned visit to Reims with Taittinger.

The quarter finalists will be showing off their skills on June 27th at Berry Brothers’ St James office, with the final round of judging taking place on July 18th at the Savoy.

All somms are welcome to attend the final to support their friends/co-workers and pick up tips on how to nail service and blind tasting.

Good luck, in advance, to all the finalists with their training – and see you next month!

Somms face big decisions as Burgundy shortage bites

How tough was 2021 for northern France? Well, Burgundian grower, Raymond Dureuil, told Jancis Robinson last year that he’d never seen such a bad vintage – and he’s lived in the region for over 80 years.

The April frost last year that decimated young vines – particularly Chardonnay – has been well documented. But to have it followed up by summer hail and then torrential rain around vintage simply added insult to injury.

Worse, it came on the back of a string of depleted vintages for Burgundy. Only one year in the last seven – 2018 – has been above average, with three well below, and 2021 something of a catastrophe in terms of volume.

Frost has been a growing problem for the vineyards of northern France. Pic: Francois Millo, courtesy of the CIVP

It’s a similar story in the Loire, where four of the last seven vintages have been 10-20% below the norm.

Put all this together, and it means that across northern France, wineries are in damage limitation mode. Allocations, particularly for white wines, are through the floor as growers attempt to eke out their depleted cellars.

And all the while they are praying there is no more frost. Chablis, in particular, seems to have been hit again this year – although not to the extent of 2021. Growers, importers and sommeliers all over the world are praying for a mild end to April. No-one can afford another short year.

Chablis is reckoned to have been hit with spring frost again this year

Major shortages

The trade all knew the situation would be bad – and now we’re seeing how much. One Collective member told me that his supplier usually has 70,000 bottles of Burgundy to sell. This year they’ve got 17,000.

‘We have been seeing reduced allocations on the popular appellations such as Meursault and Puligny over the last two years, and it is likely to get worse when I come to discuss the availabilities for 2021 [vintage],’ warns Beverly Tabbron MW, Buyer and Quality Controller at Hallgarten Novum.

‘I’m allocating Chablis,’ says Gearoid Devaney MS of Flint Wines and former UK Sommelier of the Year. ‘It feels deeply wrong…’

At Douneside House in Deeside, James Payne says he is ‘currently basking in the delicious drinkability of 2020 white Burgundy and a few 2019s’. But the future looks uncertain for restaurants who don’t have big stocks or preferential status with suppliers.

‘I prepared myself as soon as I knew,’ says Andre Luis Martins of the Cavalry and Guards Club in London. ‘I’ve got stock reserved for my house white, which is a Macon, because I’ve been a customer for years.’

Martins says he has stocks that will last him until the middle of next year.

Well prepared: the Cavalry & Guards’ Club’s Andre Luis Martins

Replacements

With big-name appellations so short of stock, merchants have been searching for new producers from different regions to make up the shortage.

Hallgarten’s Tabbron says she has looked to Macon Villages as an alternative to Chablis; Menetou-Salon, Quincy and Pouilly-Fumé instead of Sancerre; and Santenay, Hautes Cotes, Beaune and Monthelie to replace Puligny and Meursault. Although she accepts that ‘consumers are going to take some persuasion to move to these different appellations, away from the familiar ones.’

At Mentzendorff, Claire Scott-Gall says that AC Bourgogne and Chablis have become prohibitively expensive because many producers buy these grapes in, and the extreme shortage has sent prices soaring. Macon-Villages and Viré-Clessé are being shipped as alternatives.

But across the board, pricing is tough, with somms telling the Collective that they are seeing increases of over 20%.

‘It doesn’t make sense,’ says Martins. ‘I’m looking at Australia, the US, New Zealand – seeing where I can get Burgundy style Chardonnay that isn’t Burgundy. Prices have gone through the roof.’

The alternatives, as one Collective member put it, are a Chassagne for £100 or an alternative from elsewhere for £60.

Regions like Margaret River are alternatives
Pix (from left to right) Vasse Felix, Cullen
and Voyager Estate winemaker, Steve James

Of course, some venues can’t substitute A-list appellations with alternatives, no matter how good they are.

‘We do Puligny by the glass,’ says Igor Sotric of China Tang at the Dorchester. ‘Normally it would be £18 a bottle trade price, but now I’m paying £33 – and I had to buy tonnes of it to get the price down even to that. It’s pretty simple village wines – nothing spectacular or expressive.’

In other words, restaurants – and their customers – are going to be paying significantly more for the same or less, which could lead to a wholesale rethinking of the way a list is put together.

But less formal venues may well find it easier to switch from Burgundy…
… than those with very large, traditional wine lists

Tabbron describes entry level Bourgogne as ‘almost getting to the point that it is no longer competitive, particularly when compared to good quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir coming from other countries’.

There are two big questions. Firstly, in the immediate short term, how do restaurants manage the shortages and price rises they are facing – and how do they ‘sell’ any changes to customers.

Then, in the medium term, whether the 2022 vintage will allow wineries in northern France to re-stock depleted cellars and, if so, whether prices will come down.

Either way, at a time of extreme social and economic turbulence, the Collective’s members look like they are going to have to face up to even more big changes over the next 12 months.  

Discovery Tasting: Alternatives To Burgundy
Monday 9 May, 4-5pm
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN

And, the winner is…

The judges have deliberated and made their decision for the #koshufoodmatch competition. And, the winner is…

🥇 The overall winning dish is “Scottish mackerel fillet, marinated in rice wine vinegar & lightly torched” by Josie Phillips, The Macallan Estate

Koshu is a receptive/versatile wine that can accept even blue fish (mackerel) without any discomfort at all. A dish in which the body and flavour of Grace Koshu Hishiyama is well balanced with the richness of the pine nuts and rillettes, and the pleasant acidity of the Hishiyama can be expected to balance with the elderflower jelly. It is also interesting to note the spiciness (cumin in this case) in the delicacy of the Koshu, and the combination of yoghurt. A dish with a high degree of perfection.

🥈 The silver medal goes to “Cured seabass, pickled forced rhubarb, rhubarb juice & smoked oil” by Harry Cooper, FENN Restaurant.

This dish shows a good sense of the subtle astringency in the delicacy of Koshu and the smokiness that gives “Grace Koshu Hishiyama” its depth. A refined dish that adds a lingering root-like astringency behind the sharp acidity of rhubarb and smoked oil to the subtle flavours of sea bass.

Cured seabass, pickled forced rhubarb, rhubarb juice & smoked oil by Harry Cooper, FENN Restaurant

🥉 The bronze medal goes to “Handpicked Cornish crab, kohlrabi, apple and shellfish broth” by Max Manning, Allegra.

The delicate, gentle sweetness of the Cornish crab and kohlrabi is expected to harmonise with the subtle flavours of the Koshu. The combination of shellfish soup and seaweed with the wine’s minerality is also excellent. The textures of kohlrabi and apple and the fragrance of mint are also good accents.

Handpicked Cornish crab, kohlrabi, apple and shellfish broth by Max Manning, Allegra restaurant

Well done and congratulations to all. The Sommelier Collective would like to thank Grace Wines for hosting the competition for our members.

Find out more about this and other the competitions.

Isa Bal

Isa Bal wins Sommelier Award in Michelin Guide

Congratulations to Isa Bal MS, whose decades of hard work and creative energy at his new restaurant have been recognised by the world’s most prestigious restaurant guide.

The UK Michelin Guide only gives out one award to Sommeliers (plus one for Welcome and Service) so it’s a serious achievement – and much merited, for his efforts both past and present.

During his two decades in hospitality, Isa has become the first Turkish person to pass the Master Sommelier exam (2009), won the Best Sommelier of Europe competition run by the Association de Sommellerie Internationale (2008), and been awarded the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence for Wine Service (2009) by the UK Academy of Food and Wine.

He first came to prominence at the Fat Duck – Heston Blumental’s iconic boundary-pushing restaurant in Bray – where a creative approach and deep-dive understanding of food and wine matching are essential.

But in 2019 he and former Fat Duck executive chef, Jonny Lake, set up Trivet in Bermondsey – and it is for his work here that the Michelin Guide gave him this year’s Sommelier Award.

Isa’s ground-breaking ‘ancient to modern’ wine list at Trivet

‘His enthusiasm for wine knows no bounds, and he is an admirable torchbearer for lesser-known regions,’ the judges commented. ‘The passionately compiled, highly original list is fascinating, and delivers a unique historic take, with wines listed according to when winemaking first commenced in each country.’

The list includes wines from countries that are rarely seen – and almost never highlighted, yet form the historical bedrock of wine history: Georgia, Armenia and Turkey.

For any Collective members visiting or working in London, it’s well worth a visit.

Masi Tassi Tour

ADVERTORIAL

Masi, the top Italian producer based in the Veneto, hailed a black cab and invited some of the Capital’s best sommeliers to do The Knowledge and sample the range and diversity of Masi´s wine.

Giacomo Boscaini, export manager and seventh generation member of the family behind Masi, hosted the evening which stopped off at three of London’s great restaurants to showcase the various Masi Estates, paired with some choice dishes.

Masi host a group of top London Sommeliers to showcase its range of wines from the Veneto and Argentina

Giacomo was joined by twelve sommeliers, and Sommelier Collective members, from across London: Stefan Neumann MS; Amedeo Bellini, Sommelier, Petrus by Gordon Ramsay; Antonio Bellochi, Sommelier, City Social; Salvatore Castano, Sommelier, Friarwood’s; Francesco Delfino, Deputy Head Sommelier, Aqua Shard; Roxane Dupuy, Head Sommelier at Sketch; Michela Di Fazzio, Sommelier, Matteo’s at Annabel’s; Matteo Furlan, Head Sommelier at The Ritz; Alexia Gallouët, Head Sommelier, Haugen; Gabriele Galuppo, Head Sommelier, Beast; Jonathan Kleeman, Head Sommelier, Restaurant Story and Daniel Murray, Head Sommelier, A Wong.

Masi Cabs for the Masi Tassi Tour in London, November 2021

The tour started at Piazza Italiana, in the heart of The City, where a number of iconic Venetian wines were tasted with some great Italian dishes. Next up at Sushisamba, Covent Garden, the somms and hosts departed from the European theme; stretching over two continents to pair South American-Eastern fusion with the wines from the Masi Tupungato estate in Argentina. The tour ended at Hide, Piccadilly where guests tasted four Amarones and one Recioto, dating back to 2007, from the family’s cellars chosen specially for the evening by Giacomo.

‘Passo doble’, it’s like the Argentine tango: it’s a dance between Venice and Argentina”

Giacomo Boscaini, 7th generation Masi family

Commenting on the London tour Stefan Neumann MS said, “The evening combined heritage and culture and was a joyful experience – a win win combination. The three different Masi wine ranges, tasted in three different locations, were able to build a bridge between different cuisines.”

Stefan Neumann MS

THE WINES TASTED:

  • Canevel Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOCG Extra Dry
  • Colbaraca Soave Classico, Masi 2019
  • Toar Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Masi 2018
  • Brolo Campofiorin Oro, Masi 2017
  • Organic Passo Blanco, Masi Tupungato 2020
  • Organic Passo Doble Tierra Soleada, Masi Tupungato 2019
  • Organic Corbec Appassimento, Masi Tupungato 2017
  • Canevel Terre del Faè Prosecco dosaggio zero 2020
  • Costasera Amarone Classico, Masi 2015
  • Riserva Costasera Amarone Classico, Masi 2015
  • Campolongo di Torbe Amarone, Masi 2007
  • Mazzano Amarone della Valpolicella, Masi 2007
  • Angelorum Recioto della Valpolicella, Masi 2016

“Campolongo di Torpe” & “Mazzano” for me are respectively the Queen and the King of Amarone. 2007 was an incredible vintage and the wines are showing so well at the moment, still very young but super expressive.

Salvatore Castano, sommelier and fine wine advisor, Friarwood’s

The Masi story began in 1772, when the Boscaini family acquired prestigious vineyards in the small valley called “Vaio dei Masi”, which is the origin of the company’s name. After more than 200 years of passionate winemaking the company is still in family hands, run by the sixth and seventh generations.  

A benchmark in the art of producing Amarone at a world level, Masi constantly innovates and passes on its expertise in the Appassimento method, which has been practised since the time of the Ancient Romans. Use of native grapes and autochthonous methods, and the research and experimentation carried out by the company, make it one of the most famous producers of high-quality Italian wines in the world. Masi is constantly looking to set a new benchmark for the Veneto wines of tomorrow, as they did in 1964 with the launch of Campofiorin and the creation of the Ripasso category. As Giacomo Boscaini said on the evening, “The ‘Masi style’ is always about good balance and good acidity. In my opinion, 2015 was one of the best vintages in the last 50 years. Before 2016, it would have been one of the best ever.”


My favourite wine of the night was the Amarone Riserva Mazzano 2007. The most interesting was probably the Corbec, because of the unusual blend of Corvina and Malbec.

Amedeo Bellini, sommelier, Petrus by Gordon Ramsay

Masi wines are imported into the UK by Berkmann Wine Cellars.

Follow #Masi #masiTassi @MasiWines @Berkmann_Wine

Copa Jerez

A chilled glass of Fino, a complex Palo Cortado, the warm sun on your shoulders, a tasty tapa to set your taste buds tingling, a view of the Alcázar de Jerez…is this a holiday you’re on?

No, it’s what you can get to do in between sessions at Jerez’s most famous sommelier and chef competition: Copa Jerez. Seems like a dream right now but plans are afoot to hold the ninth edition of the competition in Jerez at the end of this year.

Sounds too good to be true but gaining a place in the bi-annual final of the Copa de Jerez in Jerez , not only allows you to learn more about one of the world’s most diverse and fascinating fortified wines in situ, but it also gives you time to explore and learn about the enchanting, historic city of Jerez.

International Final Copa Jerez 2019

Copa Jerez judge and MW, Sarah Jane Evans explains, “The Copa Jerez is a sensational event – for judges and contestants. The final takes place in the heart of the glorious old city of Jerez. This means there’s the chance to visit a bodega and enjoy a tapa with a glass of Sherry in between the hard work. As such it has to be the most fun destination of any sommelier competition.”

The Copa Jerez is a sensational event – for judges and contestants.

Sarah Jane Evans MW

She continues, “One of the pleasures of the international final is the way it celebrates the diversity of Sherry. Whatever the course, or ingredient, there’s a Sherry style to match. Copa Jerez acts like a reset or jump-start: it’s a whole new way of looking at the wine, and raises the game.”

Sherry, of course, is the focus. Food, the palette, which lets you and your chef to explore a world of taste and sensations as you discover the very best paring to set off the flavours in your dish and maximise the delicious nuances of your chosen wine from Andalucía’s most famous wine producing region, in southern Spain.

The ninth edition of the Copa de Jerez has just been launch by Sherry Wines and organisers are looking for chef and sommelier teams from across the UK to devise a three-course meal which will complement and showcase the versatility of Sherry wines. It’s a test of your knowledge of Sherry wines as a sommelier and your skill in food pairing based on the fabulous dishes you chef team can produce.

2021 UK Judges (left to right): Sarah Jane Evans MW; Anna Haugh; Mattieu Longuere MS

But it’s not just about the final, the preparation and creativity is also key to taking part. The regional heats in one of 8 different competing countries are a thrill to be involved in too. As former participant Owen Morgan, owner and founder of the Bar 44 group describes, “It is an incredible experience to be part of. Firstly for us as a chef and sommelier team, plotting and planning, experimenting and balancing, plus of course, how much can be achieved in the time frame.”

It is an incredible experience to be part of.

Owen Morgan, chef patron, Asador 44

He continues, “Getting to work with an exceptional level of ingredients and world class wines to taste and pair is an exceptional experience. Then there’s the experience of competing on the day – nerve wracking, yes, but is certainly honed our skills as professionals by getting to work alongside high levels pros in the UK business. We also made some great friends, who we are still in touch with today. We got so much out of the competition – learning, experiences and new colleagues. I’d recommend taking part to anyone who loves food and wine and especially Sherry.”

Participants agree that taking part is not just a learning experience but it is also about innovation and using your imagination, as Evans points out, “In this competition you can step outside the traditional pairings, and the regular choices of Finos and Manzanillas as aperitifs. The most exciting match for the judges in the last competition, for instance, was a very old PX paired a dessert. The Copa Jerez is a brilliant opportunity for sommelier and chef to work together to be really creative. It’s not just wine-pairing, we also score the quality of wine preparation and service, and the way the sommelier and chef work together as a team. “

A tasting menu is a story that you are going to tell via the food and sherries – you have to a catchy beginning, and interesting main part and sweet, happy ending!

Alan Bednarski, UK Winner Copa Jerez 2018

Alan Bednarski, head sommelier at Annabel’s, has participated and won the Copa de Jerez UK final and he was inspired to enter the competition by his love of the simplicity of tapas and Sherry. His real discovery was his time at Texture when he has the opportunity to work with unusual combination of flavours and ingredients that Chef used for tasting menu. He explains, “Wines from Jerez works perfectly with such a challenging combination of fusion Icelandic-British cuisine and Asian flavours. Working with Chef Karl O’Dell was so creative when it came to creating dishes, trying single components and looking for THE SPECIAL sensation when you taste food and Sherry and smile after each bite.”

left-right: Karl O’Dell, head chef and Alan Bednarski, head sommelier, Texture Restaurant competing at the International Final of Copa Jerez in 2019.

His top tips when entering the competition is “Less is more when it comes to ingredients,” says Bednarski, “Team work is also so important and easy to forget that this competition is about the Chef and the Sommelier. “ He adds, “A tasting menu is a story that you are going to tell via the food and sherries– you have to a catchy beginning, and interesting main part and sweet, happy ending!”

Most importantly he mentions is that “the competition is about the journey not about winning it. If you put enough effort in to make it the most special and memorable experience for you, it will pay back.”

Interested in entering Copa Jerez 2021?

Click here to find out more and start your Copa Jerez journey.

Deadline: 30 April, 2021.

Sherry webinar – March, 2021

To learn more about Sherry and competing in the Copa Jerez competition, members of The Sommeleir Collective were invited to join a webinar hosted by Charlotte Hey, with special guest Cesar Saldana, president, Consejo Regulador Jerez y Manzanilla.

Collective members celebrate after 2021 Michelin awards

Last night brought great news for some of our members of the Sommelier Collective, with the announcement of this year’s Michelin stars.

Two Collective members saw their venues upgraded to hallowed three-star status.

Seeing stars

Gareth Ferreira, head sommelier at Core by Clare Smyth, and Lucas Reynaud-Paligot from Helene Darroze at the Connaught would surely have been celebrating long into the night.

Jonny Kleeman, sommelier at Story saw Tom Sellers’ Southwark eatery make it up to two stars and, knowing him, may have had a glass or two in celebration as well!

Several of our members also saw their venues picking up that cherished first Michelin star: Emma Denney and Lorenzo Lentini at Davies and Brook, Viorel Filip at Benares and Charlotte Besson at Latymer restaurant at Pennyhill Park.

Collective member Daniel Stojcic is one of the team at Noble in Holywood who picked up the Welcome and Service Award. A recognition, as sponsor Lavazza’s Marco Lavazza put it ‘that the pleasure doesn’t just come from the food but from the overall experience.’

Karinne Canevet, from Maison Bleue in Bury St Edmonds won the Sommelier Award.

In keeping with our times, this was a virtual ceremony, compered by Davina McCall, with beamed-in input from the Guide’s international director Gwendal Poullennec.

Including Zoom interviews from tearful chefs at home or in silent kitchens – often over dodgy wifi – rather than tuxedos and ball-dresses, it was a long way from the usual glitzy affair.

But weirdly that didn’t matter

The emotions on show were heartfelt and particularly welcome after a year that has been horribly short on good news.

And it will surely live long in the memory for all of last night’s winners.

Congratulations to you all from all of us at the Sommelier Collective – and we hope to come and see what you’re doing in person once lockdown ends.

Santé!

All the results are available on the Michelin Guide website, here