• Vineyard’s Romain Bourger is UK Sommelier of the Year 2019

    A man of many hats, The Buyer contributing editor and chef at large, Roger Jones was once again a judge at the Champagne Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year 2019 finals. Jones was sitting on a panel that included previous winners of the award such as Clement Robert MS, Kathrine Larsen, Laura Rhys MS, Xavier Rousset MS and Ronan Rayburn MS, and saw Vineyard Hotel head sommelier Romain Bourger deliver a faultless display to land himself the crown of Champagne Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year award on his sixth time of asking. For the Vineyard Hotel this is the fourth winner that they have nurtured.

    A man of many hats, The Buyer contributing editor and chef at large, Roger Jones was once again a judge at the Champagne Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year 2019 finals. Jones was sitting on a panel that included previous winners of the award such as Clement Robert MS, Kathrine Larsen, Laura Rhys MS, Xavier Rousset MS and Ronan Rayburn MS, and saw Vineyard Hotel head sommelier Romain Bourger deliver a faultless display to land himself the crown of Champagne Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year award on his sixth time of asking. For the Vineyard Hotel this is the fourth winner that they have nurtured.

    mm By July 9, 2019

    Bourger said that patience is a virtue this being his sixth time of competing for the award.

    Romain Bourger was named Champagne Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year 2019 last night at London’s Savoy, after beating two head sommeliers from London – Gareth Ferreira from Core by Clare Smyth in Notting Hill, and Alan Bednarski from Texture in Marylebone – into second and third place respectively.

    It was a crowning achievement for Bourger who is the head sommelier at The Vineyard Hotel in Berkshire but it was also a feather in their cap – the Vineyard can now count four UK sommeliers of the year to its credit.

    Bourger joins a long list of celebrated sommeliers that include Gerard Basset MW MS, Ronan Rayburn MS, Laura Rhys MS, Xavier Rousset MS and the 2007 winner Nicolas Clerc MS, who is now President of the Academy of Food & Wine Service (AFWS) and was chair of this year’s judging panel.

    Bourger
    Jones sat on one of the judging tables at this year’s event.

    As part of the live element of the competition the finalists were required to identify errors on a wine list, undergo blind taste tests of wines and spirits, serve at a bar and in a restaurant scenario, and finally to pour a magnum of Champagne Taittinger into 19 glasses – all part of a gruelling 3-hour final.

    Commenting on his win, Bourger said: “I’ve competed six times so patience is a virtue. I had a great time on stage today. I stressed quite a bit but just kept it inside. I thought I was consistent throughout the day and am delighted to have come out on top.”

    Bourger
    Jones with former (and youngest-ever) winner of the award Xavier Rousset MS

    Now into its 40thyear this sommelier competition is organised by The Caterer in partnership with the AFWS with the event being open to professional sommeliers working in the UK. It is the second year that Champagne Taittinger has been the headline sponsor. After paper-based entries, regional heats are held on April 26 where the three highest-scoring candidates join last year’s two runners up and the Chaine de Rotisseur winner, making up the 15 finalists.

    Second-place sommelier at this year’s event Gareth Ferreira, head sommelier, Core by Clare Smyth, London was also a beaten finalist at last year’s awards and explained the attraction of the competition.

    “I keep on doing it because I keep on getting better at it, and it becomes a bit like a drug in that respect. It makes you think outside the box. The trickiest part for me is being put on the spot and having to deal with it.”

    Tamas Czinki, head sommelier, Northcote, Lancashire who was also been a finalist two years in a row said “It’s an amazing opportunity, from meeting different sommeliers to having that kind of experience under pressure. My hot tip? Do a bit of meditation beforehand – imagine yourself in the situation. When it comes to the restaurant scenario, then just imagine you are in your own restaurant, trying to make everyone happy.”

    Bourger

    That list in full: Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year 2019 finalists

    1. Vincenzo Arnese, Dinner by Heston
    2. Alan Bednarski, Texture
    3. Romain Bourger, the Vineyard
    4. Pierre Brunelli, L’Enclume
    5. Emmanuel Cadieu, 67 Pall Mall
    6. Charles Carron Brown, L’Enclume
    7. Rupert Crick, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons
    8. Tamas Czinki, Northcote
    9. Paul Fauvel, the Lanesborough
    10. Gareth Ferreira, Core by Clare Smyth
    11. Tony Lecuroux, Moor Hall
    12. Matteo Montone, Berners Tavern
    13. Christopher Parker, Lime Wood
    14. Paul Robineau, Moor Hall
    15. Toru Takamatsu, Hide

    The former winners of the award include a Who’s Who of the best sommeliers of the past four decades:

    Former winners

    • 2018              Alex Freguin
    • 2017              Mathias Camilleri
    • 2016              Terry Kandylis
    • 2015              Tanguy Martin
    • 2014              Kathrine Larsen
    • 2013              Clement Robert
    • 2012              Jan Konetzki
    • 2011              Yohann Jousselin
    • 2010              Christopher Delalonde
    • 2009              Laura Rhys
    • 2008              Gearoid Devaney
    • 2007              Nicolas Clerc
    • 2006              Claire Thevenot
    • 2005              Matthew Wilkin
    • 2004              Eric Zweibel
    • 2003              Loic Maillet
    • 2002              Xavier Rousset
    • 2001              James Payne
    • 2000             Matthieu Longuere
    • 1999              Alan Holmes
    • 1998              Ronan Sayburn
    • 1997              Vincent Gasnier
    • 1996              Franck Massard
    • 1995              Henri Chapon
    • 1994              Mark Walter
    • 1993              Nicholas Mobbs
    • 1992              Gerard Basset
    • 1991              Michael Simms
    • 1990              John Walker
    • 1989              Gerard Basset
    • 1988              Stephen Wilcock
    • 1987              Simon Hopkinson
    • 1986              Michael Varney
    • 1985              David Hair
    • 1984              Michael Simms
    • 1983              Bryan Dawes
    • 1982              Charles Piggin
    • 1981              Claudia Harris
    • 1980              June Schmidt – Lowe

     

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