Best Sommelier of the World – A once in a lifetime experience

Last week (10th -15th of March) the 16th edition of the Best Sommelier of the World contest set up its tents in Antwerp. It seems like only yesterday when we received an email from our President William Wouters (president of the Belgian Sommelier Association and Vice-president of ASI Europe) asking us what we thought of the idea of organizing the 2019 ASI Best Sommelier of the World contest 🙂 .  At that time most of us thought William had lost his mind, but William’s enthusiasm convinced us all. What followed after that specific email, were 3 years of hard work (although I only was supposed to help a little bit 😉 ).

The contest can definitely be compared with the Olympics, as it is an event that is only organized every 3 years where only the best of the best from 63 countries compete against each other. It takes years for the competitors prepare themselves for this contest…. Just like the athletes for the Olympics.   And although they don’t get a ‘money’ price if they win it, it does change their life tremendously. From the moment they win, there are soooo many interesting offers that pass by  that for many years to come they don’t have to worry too much about having spare time 🙂  but even for those who don’t win, it opens doors in their own country and gives opportunities that maybe before were unreachable.  So it represents so much more than only a contest… it can (to my opinion) be seen as a life changer and that is why I was glad to be help a hand to make this event a success.

Most people I mention the contest to immediately make the reflection that the competitors only need knowledge about wine, which is obviously a big part of it, but it is also about so much more than that… it is also about coffee, tea, beer, cigars, distillates, juices, hospitality , etc… This also explains why they have to prepare themselves for years, as it a looooot of info to put in their brain.

A question I’ve heard a lot the last few years, was how the sommeliers actually got selected to compete. Every country will ask the winners from the local championship (sometimes also finalists) from the last 10 years who is up for it (as it takes a lot of sacrifices). For the remaining group, we organize a ‘mini’ competition and the winner from this competition can compete.

When William started talking 3 years ago about the championship and experiences he had from all the previous editions from both continental as the world contest that he was part of since the early ‘90’s  , one thing was sure, we wanted to make it an extra special edition. Extra special, as this edition would be exactly 50 years after the 1st edition that was held in 1969 in Brussels. It would also be the first urban edition, as unlike in previous editions we wouldn’t be visiting vineyards. Another important things was to try to take the dust off the image ‘sommeliers’ often have (which is also the mission of the ASI).

Quickly we noticed that we couldn’t manage an event of this size alone. First of all as besides the contest, you have to organize masterclasses, a program for people travelling along with the official delegations, meals, logistic movements, etc… for over 300 people that travel to Belgium for a whole week. But also that it is just a business we don’t know that much about. That’s when our friend Mich Van Aerde and his event company Balthazar came in the picture. They have done an outstanding job in the last 3 years, as some circumstances didn’t always make it easy  for them to wrap their heads around the whole event (also because of constant changes, etc…) and get the work done.

Now that we had that, the next very important thing, was gathering the money to be able to actually organize the event 🙂 this is where our path crossed the path of Claire Berticat. She took in charge all the negotiations with all potential partners (of who many became actually became a partner).

From time to time It has been a bumpy ride, it took blood, sweat and tears… but we (or at least that’s how I experienced it) were a team headed for the same goal, making the 2019 Best Sommelier of the World a World class event where they would talk about for many years to come … and I modestly think we succeeded?!!  Funny enough the week of the contest felt a bit like a wedding party, you are present, but did you actually got to fully enjoy  it? 🙂 I’m exaggerating, I enjoyed it very much 😉 😉

I did get to see a bit of the contest itself here and there, but there were so many things going on behind the scenes, so basically I got to experience it less then I had hoped.

What I will always treasure is all the wonderful people I got to meet  and things I got to experience during the 3 year adventure and I hope to see many again in the future.  It was also wonderful hearing from so many people from around the globe that we did a great job and receiving many compliments… this makes all the hard work worth it!

I wish I could have freed up more time to help, but nevertheless I hope my little contribution to this event made a bit of difference. If you want to know how the week went, please check out the below footage from the whole week!! As it will give you a better view then when I would explain it 🙂

I want to thank all the great people I was fortunate enough to work with and from who I’ve learned a lot: William Wouters, Mich van Aerde, Claire Berticat, Sofie Van der Poel, Tania Asselberghs, Niels Goyvaerts, Domien Van Aerde, Bob van Giel, Amandine Vandeputte (PR/Communication)  and Katrin Bilmeyer for their devotion and outstanding work.  Also thank you to all the people behind the ASI, not to forget all the previous winners of the World title who were present at the finals (even Armand Melkonian who won in 1969)

But this event wouldn’t have been as good without the many many volunteers that travelled from far to help us a hand like Filipa Pato, William Wouters (there are 2 William’s in the Belgian Sommelier Association, this is the other one 🙂 ), Katia Wouters, Marijke Bilmeyer, Bart Sap, Gerard Devos, Kris Lismont, Els De Brucker, Douglas Wouters, Hanne Lesage, Lucas Delforge, Steven Wullaert Bram van der aa, David Hsaio, Jean-Marc BrasseurEllen Franzen, Karim Hayoun, Yiannis Stefanides, Giannis Papachristoforou , Ketil Sauer, Saskia Schurink, Guillaume Coret, Allard Sieburgh, Nelson Guerreiro, Pedro Noguiera, Sergio Pires, Tomas Carreira, Adrian Jipa, Ivan Nikolic, Nenad Nedimovic, Anika Manojlo, Milena Zakaric, Milica Papic, …

Not to forget Belgian helpers and students from hotel school PIVA who helped during the gala dinner. I do hope I didn’t forget anybody!

Last but not least I do want to thank all the AMAZING partners that believed in our project and have kept supporting us until the very end. Thank you Austrian Wines, Inter Rhône, Le Wine, TorresPerrin, Bellavista, Zonin, Gusbourne, Bairrada, Grahams, Vinventions, Port of Antwerp, city of Antwerp,  Flemish Government, Clarence Dillon, Malartic Lagravier, Duvel, Gerard Bertrand, Farnese, Carlos Ruben, M’as tu vu, Decanter, etc… and obviously mostly the people behind these brands 🙂

 

Without all of the above mentioned people (and I hope I didn’t forget anybody, but if I did I apologies as we are of course also thankful to them) there would have not been a 16th Edition of best Sommelier of the world.

It was fun and I met lots of people, but I’ll be honest that I’m also very glad it is over 😉 😉  it literally will be a once in a lifetime!!  Once again congratulations to the new Best Sommelier of the World Marc Almert!! Also To the 2 runners up Raimonds Tomsons & Nina Højgaard Jensen  and of course to our very own Antoine Lehebel who became 10th. Very proud of you all.

Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight

With the ASI World Championship for Sommeliers being held in Belgium (Antwerp aka the most beautiful city in the world 😉 ) in 2019 I thought is was time to put another key person of a restaurant  in the spotlight… I mean it are always the chefs that are put in the spotlight, but  to create a full gastronomical experience it takes  so much more than only food, the beverages that accompany the dishes for example are as essential for the experience! So time for a change I’d say and put that spotlight on the sommeliers. They deserve it !

I know you might find it strange that I am putting this job on a pedestal even though I’m not a sommelier myself…  but let’s say that there are  2 persons to blame for me finding a passion that is not my profession 🙂 My Dad and  William ‘Pato’  Wouters (who I met through my dad 20 years ago)  🙂 🙂 My dad because he introduced me into the world of good wines (and food in general)  and William for helping me widening my horizon ad showing me different aspects in the world of wines  and introducing me in the world of Sommellerie. A few years later  I’m a board member of the Belgian Sommelier Association , Co-organizer of the ASI Sommelier World Championship and being as much as possible busy with wine and sommeliers … so you could say it has found a way to my heart.

What is a sommelier? I know that around this topic there is a lot of confusion. Most people think that a sommelier is only responsible for serving wine, but they do much more.  A sommelier is a trained  (HoReCa) professional with  deep knowledge of how food and wine, beer, spirits soft-drinks, cocktails, mineral waters, and tobaccos work in harmony (on top of what the job of a waiter implies). It is their mission to give an extra dimension to the meal you are having  :-).

In the past year I’ve been fortunate enough to have done over 80 interviews with TOP sommeliers form all over the world (and I will continue interviewing) from the great Gerard Basset to Arvind Rosengren  to Sören Polonius.. .  FYI It does me great pleasure to see  that many Sommelier Associations from other countries have taken over these interviews and translated in their local language and even started putting more of their own sommeliers in the spotlight… so basically spreading the word and making the job of sommelier more popular.

What I learned from all the interviews I did is that  in bigger cities like London, Paris or Brussels or countries like Japan or the US the job of Sommeliers is mostly valuated as it should and most restaurant owners understand the added value of having a  sommelier in their restaurant. But what surprised me maybe even more was that in many ‘smaller’ countries or countries you won’t expect the job of sommelier is taken serious the situation improving as many new Sommelier Associations are founded and many are also joining the ASI (International Sommelier Association)!! What Sommelier Associations  do is giving chances to young people to discover the a wonderful world, to build an International career and bring together people with the same passion.    There a many examples of sommelier whose life changed and turned 180° thanks to their local sommelier association.

Anyhow I can only advise you to check out the interviews with the sommeliers and let them be the shining star for a change 🙂 You can find the interviews (English) via following link 

Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: William Wouters

William Wouters

In the world of gastronomy it are always the chefs that are put in the spotlight! Time for a change I’d say and put that spotlight on the sommeliers for a change :-). Especially with the ASI Worldchampionship for sommeliers coming to Belgium in 2019, they deserve it more then ever! That’s why I’ve send 10 questions to a few top sommeliers to find out more about their world… The first sommelier I’ve send the questions to is William Wouters aka ‘el presidente’ 🙂  or better the chairman of the Belgian Sommelier Guild and the person who we have to thank for bringing the championship to Belgium. I personally already know William since I’ve been born and have to admit that I look up to William when it comes down to wine and knowledge about wine!! He has learned me lots of things and still helps me to discover wines, vineyards, etc… I also know for a fact that I’m not the only one looking up to him. Lot’s of Top sommeliers still ask William for advice or help. For many years William has worked and participated in lots of competitions at international level with results one shouldn’t be modest about!! What I also always liked about William is that his motto is “wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good”!!! A motto that was also a golden rule in his restaurant (Pazzo)

William wouters

Every winegrower, (top)sommelier or person involved with wine I mention I’m from Belgium comes with a at least one story about a crazy night they had at the Pazzo winebar with William 🙂 (who used to be the owner of Pazzo). 2 years ago William decided to leave Pazzo in the good hands of  chef Ingrid Neven and Tom Dhooghe. The mean reason for that was William being able to spend more time with his wife and kids in Portugal. William’s wife Filipa Pato is a very renowned Portugese wine maker who comes from a long line of winemakers in her family. You could also see it as William changing sides 🙂 from sommelier serving the wines, to winemaker making the wines.

William en filipa

Although it must be said he also spends lots of his time with his other passion… football. William is also the cook or better person coordinating the cooks for the Belgian national football team (Red Devils) and therefore also travelling a lot with them.

William red devil

What is your favorite wine region to work with?

Bairrada – you all know why… 😉 😉

What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?

A broad knowledge of all beverages and a good culture about food. Perhaps the most important thing is: a very good “social” intelligence

Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?

Underestimated because a sommelier is a kind of a barometer in direct contact with the customer. He feels the straight needs and consequently acts to them. A good sommelier is a big added value in the front of a restaurant, bistro, wine bar, wine shop,…

When and how did you get the passion for wine?

From small on I was intrigued by the complexity of wine and the wine world in general, the diversity, the interaction with the climate, soil, grape varieties, perception of the winemakers, link to gastronomy… the more you know, the less you know, the more you want to know… (Confucius 🙂 )

Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?

Obelix, he fell into a barrel with the magical potion as a kid, I think sometimes the same happened to me, but I was probably too small to remember

What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with dishes?

Feeling… This is the biggest challenge for a sommelier! There is no such thing as right or wrong… Depends of many factors : people, the mood, time of the day, the weather, the budget, taste, …

Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?

Bairrada – you know why… 😉 . No, no kidding, I would recommend to visit as many wine regions as possible. As a sommelier it is very important to go into the vineyards and speak to the winegrowers and winemakers to understand better the wines that are made, and why they are made in a certain way. Wines for me should always reflect the place they are coming from. Authenticity is a key word for me

For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?

For all the wines I don’t know. So I think I still have a lot of work to do!

What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?

That I always “had to be” a volunteer to go to things related to wine and other beverages. I really loved it! Also to share these experiences with the friends and colleagues gave huge satisfaction.

A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant?

Whatever, wherever, whenever be open minded and keep your eyes, ears and certainly your tastebuds open! This is the intriguing trigger that will always keep you eager to improve as a sommelier! You are never done!

Helping others to empty the “garage”

If I can help people or make them happy, I’m always there…this got proven again last week when my dear friend William Wouters (Top sommelier and owner from Pazzo) asked me if I want to join him to taste wines from Quinola during a lunch at restaurant Les Eleveurs in company of a few friends (Jaime Suarez (owner/ oenologist Quinola , César Ramon (sommelier Comme chez soi), Andy De Brouwer (sommelier/ owner Les Eleveurs ), Aristide Spies (Finalist of the best sommelier of the world contest)  to name a few). So again if I can make people happy… I obviously don’t do this for myself 😉 😉 (Strange they didn’t name a street after me yet 🙂 )

Aristide & Jaime

César & Andy

A few things you should know about the Quinola vineyard is first of all that it located in the North West of Spain on an altitude of ca. 800m (close to Portugal) and that they only make 1 type of wine from which they only produce around 5000 bottles a year. Making wine actually runs in the Suarez family as Jaime and his two brothers learned a lot from their dad as he was a very well known oenologist. Although if I understood it well it is mostly Jaime occupying himself in making the wine, and his two brothers more on the administration and the selling. They (Suarez Family) call their wine “garage” wine, but I can say for a fact it was more than only a “garage” wine 🙂 . I must say the result is even quit exceptional!

Quinola wine

The Quinola  wine is made 100% of the Tinta de Toro aka Tempranillo grapes from 90 years old vines.  The most important or most surprising for me is the way they make their wine as I have never seen something like this before. After harvesting all the grapes they immediately put them in barrels?! Yes indeed so they don’t filter it or let it age in Inox tanks before putting it in wooden barrels. I really didn’t know wine got made this way… I could say that nature does all the work here, but they have to turn the barrels a few times a week (I even think 8 times a day if I remember it right…) so the manual labour can’t be ignored here.  Jaime told me that it was in Bordeaux where he first saw this technique (and even there it is not used a lot) and where he learned more about… but it wasn’t until when he went to Australia that he started experimenting with this technique. (So you can see that making their wine this way didn’t go over one night’s ice).

Quinola

I cannot think of a better way to taste the wine than with food 🙂 . What is great when you have lunch with top sommeliers is that they wouldn’t be top sommeliers if they didn’t bring other wines to put next to the Quinola wines.   They brought other wines not per se to compare, but just to make this lunch an even more incredible one… In case you are wondering what kind of wines, i’ll just name a few: a 1999 Tetre Roteboeuf (Saint Emilion Grand Cru), a 2002 Tarlant Bland de Meuniers champagne, a 1994 Joseph Roty (Bourgogne), a 2009 Meusaul-Pierrieres 1er Cru, etc… I know for the people who don’t know that much about wine this doesn’t go their heart go faster, but for those who do I’m sure they wouldn’t have mind trying these ones ;-).  What I must say it that even though we had some great wines, the Quinola  didn’t vanish… I mean that it could perfectly stand in line with those wines I mentioned before as  Quinola   is rich of flavour and body (I must add it is slightly strong –  15%). We tried the 2008, 2009 and 2010. William and all the other top sommeliers said they preferred I think it was 2009, but for me they were all good 🙂 Taking the picture below wasn’t an easy task as every time I the picture, a few minutes later a new bottle would be added… so at some point I just stopped taking pictures 🙂

20140302_162041

Feast your eyes on the menu chef Nico Corbesier served us:

Some mussels to open the taste buds

20140302_131758

Atlantic cod (Skrei) sashimi, crispy skin, pear and avocado

Atlantic cod (Skrei) sashimi, crispy skin, pear and avocado

Millefeuille of potato with beef shank and a soft yolk and persillade (I took the picture at the last moment when I just poked the egg yolk with my fork, so that why it is not round anymore 🙂 greedy me I guess)

20140302_142920

Lamb Shoulder with chervil, parsley root with buttermilk and sprouts flower

Lamb Shoulder with chervil, parsley root with buttermilk and sprouts flower

Bavarois of white chocolate, pistachio and chartreuse

Bavarois of white chocolate, pistachio and chartreuse

I think a little trip to Spain is presenting itself 🙂 … for those who didn’t read between the lines, I like the wine and you”ll be ready more about this wine in the future 🙂 as I really would like to see how they make this magical wine :-). I’m really happy I was part of this wonderful lunch with great wines and great people

Thanks to everybody!! Also to Jan De Laet for the musical intermezzo.

20140302_135110

A night back in time with a nice glass of wine

Filipa Pato

You might have noticed that I’ve become an even bigger wine lover than I already was. Wine can just be so different every time. Even when some winemakers use the same grape the end product can still be so different. I’m not a wine snob, so wine for me doesn’t have to be from Italy for me to be good… Just like with food it either is good or it isn’t. The advantage I have is that I lately always get surrounded by the ‘crème de la crème’ of people in the winery business (sommeliers, winemakers, etc…) that help me understanding smells and tastes I can’t always distinguish myself. So when last week top sommelier William Wouters and his wife Filipa Pato  ask me if I wanted to join a wine and dine tasting of their own wines I couldn’t refuse, as there is still so much to learn  or that I don’t know about wine yet…and ok I just like eating and tasting a lot 🙂 (And they are great people).

The location for the tasting was very unique it was the ‘Campveerse Toren’. A Unique and the perfect spot to spend a winter evening as the antique of the restaurant takes the cold away. Also nice to know is that the Campveerse toren already got used since the 15th – 16th century as hostelry or restaurant. So it goes back quite a while. The antique does bring a certain coziness and warm feeling, too bad they didn’t turn on the fireplace, but even without it felt like the perfect spot to be when it is cold outside. I really wouldn’t know how to describe it in a different way:-)

Campveerse toren by beeldbankrws

Campveerse toren by hendriksdekeyser

What Filipa Pato’s wines and the location have in common is the respect for tradition, but still doing your own thing with it. For example Filipa uses (her own) old vines or traditional grapes from the area she is from and makes wine like her forefathers (she comes from a wine making family)did but makes use of modern technology to make it her own thing and give her own schwung. The same goes for the cuisine chef Xavier, he prepares classical dishes with little schwung of his own (and of course not forgetting the historical location).

Campveerse toren restaurant

It is true that I know William and his wife already a long time now, but that is not the reason why I like their wines.  I like their wines because they are good!! What I like about them is the fact that they are a bit stronger and remind me a bit of Burgundy wines. Also knowing most of their wines a only made from 1 type of grape is something I find incredible (like with Sherry)… This also shows that nothing goes to waste at the estate and that they make use of every part of the grape to make the espumante, red wine, white wine and/ or sweet wine. Great, right? I hope you are sharing my enthusiasm.

Marc Filipa and William

I can’t say it enough,  the location was simply fantastic. With a location like ‘Campveerse Toren’ you just have to eat stews or game dishes… that get accompanied by strong and rich wines… So lucky me this was exactly what chef Xavier and Filipa served me. Please feast your eyes on the menu and of course the great wines we got served with them:

Appetizers

  • On hay smoked wild oyster, wild goose ham and Jerusalem artichoke that got accompanied by the Vino Branco

Oysters

Pheasant in cedar

  • Roast wild duck with a licorice gravy, white beans and a lentil polenta. This got served with Baby Baga

Wild duck

  • Stewed deer neck in red wine with cacao, parsnips, kale and celeriac. This dish just needed the top of the bill, a Nossa Calcario Tinto! I’m sure this is what the gods drink!!

Deer neck

  • There was also a cheese assortment, but as I am not really a cheese fan I skipped this dish, but I did drink the ‘Espirito de Bago’ Filipa braught over especially for this tasting 🙂 You could compare this as a combination of an sherry and grappa.

I didn’t really have a personal favorite wine or dish as everything was very good and it got proven to me once again that the time when Dutch chefs didn’t know how to cook has been looooong gone 🙂 Alexander made some great sauces!  My compliments to Xavier!!  As for the wines, If I would be in a shop to buy wine I wouldn’t be able to choose and probably walk out with the whole assortment as they are all so different. Ok it is a fact the Nossa is slightly more expensive then the “baby baga’, but the Nossa is a wine you can still keep for 7 or 8 years ( or maybe even more) and the “baby baga’ to drink immediately… What I’m basically trying to say is that I’m fan and have already been for quite a while now 🙂

I will go into the wines itself more in detail in one of my next blogpost as otherwise my post will become even longer then they usually already are 🙂

BTW if you wish to try these wines you can either go to my favorite restaurant Pazzo in Antwerp or pass by the distributers in Belgium or Netherlands (let me know if you want to know it from another country) or have a nice dinner at the ‘Campveerse Toren’ just like me.

Special thanks to Filipa, William, Xavier and  Mark for giving me yet another incredible food/ wine experience!

The 2013 Best Belgian Sommelier Trophy

What a day!! My respect for professional sommeliers got bigger by the second during the annual Belgian Sommelier Trophy. First things first, before I start talking about anything else I want to clear out something. The title of “Best sommelier of Belgium” given yearly by the Belgian Sommelier Guild is the one and only real title as they are the only association recognized by the ASI or “Association de la Sommellerie Internationale” to hand out this title. During this competition there is also no favoritism as this contest gets observed by a bailiff to make sure the whole contest happens correctly. Secondly, during this contest every participant gets thoroughly tested on his/her knowledge and get judged by an international jury with special guests like Bernd Kreis (Best Sommelier of Germany 1990, Best Sommelier of Europe 1992, Semi-finalist Best Sommelier of the World 1992), Jan-Willem Van der Hek (Best Sommelier of Holland 2013, Candidate for World and European championships 2013), Cees Vos (Past president of the Dutch Sommelier Guild), Louis Havaux (Past president of FIJEV, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles…), international winemakers, me 🙂 and a few more… so basically people who know what they’re talking about. I (together 5 other judges at my table) had to evaluate the participant’s handiness, efficiency, politeness and professionalism during his tests. It might seem an easy task, but it really wasn’t!!

Gilde Sommeliers

Now you know the above I can continue with talking about the actual competition. Last Sunday 3 young sommeliers (remaining from the 11 candidates that participated the semi-finales) Yannick Dehandschutter (Restaurant Sir Kwinten), Antoine Lehebel (Restaurant Villa Lorraine) and Jan Rots (Restaurant Brasserie Latem) competed against each other to become the this year’s Best Sommelier of Belgium . I was really honored to be part of the jury and glad I was at the good side of the table as it wasn’t easy competition :-).

3 participant together with Louis Havaux

To give you guys an idea how difficult a contest like this I’ll give a few examples of tests they had to do. The first test they had to do might seem like a very easy test, but don’t get fooled!! They had to serve (according to the rules of the art) my table of judges a 2006 Telmont Blanc de Blancs Champagne and also tell us more about this champagne… to make it more difficult they also put a 2004 Blanc de Blancs and a totally different champagne in the ice bucket and to do this all they had 5 minutes. Only 1 of the 3 participants’ served us the correct bottle… it did cost them a point, but this way I got to try 3 different champagnes 😉

Antoine Lehebel

Competition

The most difficult tests were  saying from 6 glasses of alcoholic drinks which kind of alcohol it was and the country it comes from or maybe telling from 3 glasses of wine as much as much as possible and which wine it is… all this just by looking at the color, smelling and tasting again for which they only had between 5-9 minutes to accomplish. Or was it the 7 course menu for which they had to give 7 different wines from 7 different countries and tell us why? Although finding the mistakes in a wine list also didn’t seem like child’s play as the mistakes could be typo’s, but also references to wrong regions or vintages… so if after this test your respect doesn’t get bigger for them I don’t know what will?! Next time I’ll see a title like this given by some magazine or guide I’ll think twice and wonder on what they based themselves to determine the winner of their title!!

Yannick Dehandschutter Photo : Jean-Marc Brasseur

Jan Rots

Yannick Dehandschutter Photo : Jean-Marc Brasseur

Grading the 3 finalists wasn’t an easy task as they matched on many levels… I mean they all had parts they did less or better, but in the end it evened out. I waited until I had seen all 3 participants before grading. I personally didn’t know as there were around 20 judges each judging a different aspect so it could go every direction… but in the end the best man won, the 2013 Trophy of Best Sommelier of Belgium went to Yannick Dehandschutter from restaurant Sir Kwinten

Yannick 3 Photo : Jean-Marc Brasseur

Check the following link for a little video of the awarding ceremony

With every victory there must be a good meal and celebration and boy did we eat and celebrate, but I’ll talk about that another time 😉

Congratz Yannick and see you soon @ Sir Kwinten 🙂