Glass half full
Future stars showed off their skills at Moet & Chandon Best Young Sommelier competition
Founded in 2017 in collaboration with the South African Sommeliers Association, the Moët & Chandon Best Young Sommelier competition has become a prestigious event for the next generation of professional sommeliers, held every two years.
In an exciting show of skill and knowledge over the semi finals and finals process at The Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town, which hosted participants from all over South Africa, Laurie Cooper has been crowned Moët & Chandon Best Young Sommelier 2019. At age 28, she is the winemaker and sommelier at Abingdon Wine Estate in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, the first family-owned estate to produce wines from the province. Together with her father, she runs all the viticulture and viniculture on the four-hectare estate.
She, as well as runners-up Tayla Kirschner of the Sommeliers Academy and Le Roi van de Vyver from Belthazar Restaurant & Wine Bar endured four rounds of rigorous theoretical tests and were judged by an expert panel on their ability to taste and identify wine and spirits, as well as their social skills, ability to interact with the patron, and standard service tasks.
The lineup of illustrious judges included Lloyd Jusa, Head Sommelier and Director of The Saxon Collection Wine Programme; Germaine Esau, Chef de Cuisine for Myoga Restaurant at The Vineyard Hotel; Wikus Human, Sommelier at Marble Restaurant and winner of the 2017 Moët & Chandon Best Young Sommelier Competition; Barry Scholfield, President of The South African Sommelier Association and partner in Somm Hospitality Enterprises; Cathy Marston, Master of Wine Student, owner of the International Wine Education Centre and provider of WSET education in Southern Africa; Joakim Blackadder Immenkamp, winner of the Gaggenau Sommelier Awards 2018 and partner in Somm Hospitality Enterprises.
“If I had to sum up the Moët & Chandon Best Young Sommelier competition experience in one word it would be, progress. It makes me so proud to see not only the improvement in number and quality of sommeliers participating year on year but also in the quality of the actual competition,” says Barry Scholfield, Chairman of the Board of the South African Sommeliers Association.