Australian Sommelier in top 12

The Best Sommelier in the World 2010

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Franck Moreau, Head Sommelier of Merivale Group Sydney

Franck Moreau, Head Sommelier of Merivale Group Sydney

 

After a gruelling five-day competition in the Chilean capital Santiago, Sydney-based Sommelier Franck Moreau (Head Sommelier of Merivale Group Sydney and committee member of Sommeliers Australia) has been deigned one of the top twelve Sommeliers in the World at the prestigious Concours Du Meilleur Sommelier du Monde 2010 that wrapped up on Friday 16th April 2010.

Moreau earned his stripes at the Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceanic competition held in Osaka (Japan) in November last year where he represented Australia and was awarded a thrilling second place. This afforded instant entry to the Sommelier du Monde, a truly international competition that has been held every three years since 1969. The 2010 event is the first time Australia has competed, and Franck was the lone Australian contender, competing against 54 candidates from 51 countries. Franck then progressed to the semi-finals – an incredible result. At this stage of the competition, the semi-final candidates had to undertake:

  • A three hour written exam of 100 questions;
  • A masked tasting of two wines followed by three spirits;
  • An exam for the Peter Lehmann Award and a masked shiraz tasting from anywhere in the world;
  • An exam for the Aqua Panna/Sanpellegrino prize; and
  • A practical exam of opening a bottle of wine and pouring from a basket in 2.5 mins.

The candidates were then assessed and 12 semi-finalists were announced after a day’s break in competition, and “our Franck” was among them. Day Four took the competition to a whole new level as the twelve competed for a place in the Grand Final. Kicking off at 8am, the group was required to:

  • Complete a 10-page exam in one hour, which Franck deemed “The hardest thing any Sommelier in this competition has ever done in their life”;
  • A practical exam of opening a bottle of champagne and serving seven people;
  • A food and wine matching of ceviche dishes and clams, which Moreau noted as “typical Chilean food,” and;
  • A tasting of two wines and three spirits in nine minutes in front of a jury.

The Grand Final contenders were announced after lunch on Day Five. But, it was no ordinary lunch, as the semi-finalists had to be prepared to create some spectacle with a live tasting on stage in front of 200 diners. This ‘live exam’ involved making a negroni, serving two glasses of champagne, matching food to a selection of wines, decanting a magnum of red wine, a blind tasting of four wines and eight spirits in 15 minutes as well as recognise pictures of vineyards from all over the world and identify errors in a wine list.

Franck psyched himself up for the potential of having to compete in the demonstration, aiming to ‘forget everything when I’m up there and remember that when you’re on stage, it really is something you do every day - matching wines, recommending wines, talking to people and serving them. You just have to show what you can do, and be the best.’ Franck missed the final three, so was not required to complete this challenge.

In the end, the UK’s Gerard Basset (a Master of Wine, Master Sommelier, Technical Director of the Academy of Food & Wine and owner of the Hampshire-based Hotel Terravina), who has competed in the Sommelier du Monde competition seven times now, was announced as the Sommelier of the World, having blown away the judges during the on-stage exam. Sommeliers Australia President Ben Edwards, who attended the event said, “He just did everything he had to do, and got the timing right. It was definitely his year.”

The next ASI Sommelier du Monde competition will be held in 2013.

 

Jess Ho, RUN FORREST

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April 27th, 2010
 
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