The 12th ASI Contest of the Best Sommelier of Europe took place in Strasbourg, Alsace, at the Palais des Congrès et de la Musique, on November 22nd. Paolo Basso won the competition and became the Best Sommelier of Europe 2010 in front of a large and enthusiastic audience.
"It was my third try ! Finally, I win the title, and you are asking me how I feel ? I am just happy, it is as simple as that ! I have been preparing for these international competitions for years… Years of hard work and sacrifices… You know, I think that the level is higher and higher and it is even tougher to succeed !"
35 candidates coming from all over Europe entered the ASI Contest of the Best Sommelier of Europe organized by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale and the Union de la Sommellerie Française (UDSF), with the logistical support of the Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA).
After highly selective tests, eight semi finalists tried to get qualified for the grand finals :
On Monday 22nd November at 3pm, the names of the three finalists are announced : the Swiss Paolo Basso, the French David Biraud and the very young Italian Matteo Ghiringhelli.
Emotion is in the air… Paolo Basso has already been second in the European and the World contests. David Biraud was 3rd in the world championship for his first participation in an international competition. As for Matteo, it is his very first continental competition… Anything might happen !
The tests took place one after the other :
Serving a Jeroboam of champagne Duval-Leroy, Matching wines and food, decanting a magnum of pinot noir from Alsace, blind tasting of three wines (Grüner Veltliner, Pinotage, Monastrell from Jumilla), identification of six beverages. Then the wine-list to correct followed by a surprise question about the winners of the European title since its creation in 1988 (Ruinart Trophy at the time). Added to those tests, a panel of judges had to mark the attitude and skills of each candidate regarding his foreign language.
As comperes for the grand finals, two Best Sommeliers of the World (in 1989 and 2004), formerly Best Sommeliers of Europe (in 1988 and 2002), Serge Dubs and Enrico Bernardo conducted the « show ».
After Shinya Tasaki, president of the technical Commission and chairman of the jury gave him the sealed envelope with the scores, Serge Dubs, host of the competition, announced the results :
No doubt that these three sommeliers will meet again and fight for the world title. Paolo Basso, as for him, is by the rules already qualified as the official Swiss candidate for the next ASI Contest of the Best Sommelier of the World 2013 in Japan. And his country is still welcome to select a second sommelier to enter the competition.
Within the frame of this contest, David Biraud won the Peter Lehmann Shiraz Sommelier Award, a competition organized by PLW, Hess Family Estates and ASI since 2007 regarding exclusively the shiraz grape all over the world, with a theoretical questionnaire, matching food and wines and a blind tasting. David, who has not yet travelled to Australia, has been invited by Peter Lehmann Wines Ltd to discover the Barossa Valley and improve his knowledge about shiraz. He was also offered a double magnum of "Futures" shiraz by Hans Aström, president of Hess Family Estates Europe.
The very heavy organization of such an event would not have been possible without the support of partners. If the role of CIVA was vital, we also need to point out the participation of Heineken, Peter Lehmann Wines and Hess Family Estates, Duval-Leroy, Amcor, Arc International, the Royal Palace of Kirrwiller, Strasbourg Events, Croisi Europe, Sommeliers International, Celtic and the Lycée Alexandre Dumas of Illkirch-Graffenstaden.
The next ASI Contest of the Best Sommelier of Europe is planned in 2013 in Italy and Monaco.