Young Sommelier Competition 2014
The Chaine des Rotisseurs’ Young Sommelier Competition is well underway. Between February 11 and March 4, five of the eight regional competitions were completed. The first round of the competition was an online wine theory exam held in December. Two to three regional finalists emerged from a dozen or so competitors for each of the eight regions. The first regional final was held on February 11 at Hakkasan Restaurant in San Francisco. The Pacific Northwest was represented by Jackson Rohrbaugh of Aragona Restaurant in Seattle, Jeremiah Morehouse of SPQR Restaurant in San Francisco and Martin Sheehan-Stross of Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco. I was the head judge and joined by fellow Master Sommeliers Eric Entrikin of the International Culinary Center in Campbell and Roland Micu of Rose Rabbit Lie at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas and guest judge Ronald Plunkett. Overseeing the competition was Charlie Bennet, Vice Echanson National who runs the national competition for the Chaine.
While determining the regional finalist was very straight forward as it was the highest scores on the theory exam, it was more complicated picking a winner at the regionals. Each of the three competitors was given an identical blind tasting of six wines with 25 minutes to analyze them and identify them by varietal, country, region, quality level and year of harvest. Next came a service exam which included Champagne service, decanting, food pairing, wine list correction and problem resolution. All three competitors performed strongly but the judges unanimously gave the highest score for both sections to Jeremiah Morehouse. He will face off against the winners of the other regional finals listed below in the national finals in May in Carmel Valley. The winner there will go on to face the winners of other countries at the international finals in Copenhagen, Denmark later in the year.
• Pacific Northwest: Jeremiah Morehouse
• Mid-Atlantic: John Filkins
• Northeast: Jane Lopes
• Hawaii/Pacific: Christopher Ramelb
• Far West: Jessica Waugh
• Midwest: TBD
• Southwest: TBD
• South Central: TBD
The Chaine des Rotisseurs is the oldest gourmet society in the world, formed in Paris in 1248. It has 22,000 members in over 100 countries. Their US chapter has been in operation since 1961. This is the 24th year of their Jeaune Sommelier Competition. It is not to be confused with the Guild of Sommeliers’ Top Somm Competition or the American Sommelier Association Best Sommelier in the World Competition. All three of these competitions are excellent preparation for the Master Sommelier exam and honing skills for daily work as a sommelier.
Have you been served by any of this year’s competitors or dined in their restaurants? Have you ever competed in these events? Do you think these competitions and various exams help one to become a better sommelier?