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Fat Duck sommelier scoops Sud de France award

Published:  06 October, 2011

Fat Duck sommelier Stefan Neumann has been scooped the best UK sommelier award for the Sud de France competition.

The 26-year-old Austrian triumphed over 58 contestants from top British restaurants, to take first place in the competition, which tests sommeliers' knowledge of Languedoc-Roussillon wines.

Isabelle Legeron MW chaired the contest, now in its third year.

The competition formed part of the two-week long Sud de France festival, which culminated in a networking dinner at the Connaught last week. Two-Michelin starred chef Helene Darroze created a special menu for the 50 importes, producers and journalists. 

Consumer events ran daily, including the gala opening at Prenelle Gallery on the deck of Dutch Barge Prins (West India Quays), and there were a series of WSET seminars focusing on the regions's wines. Simon Woods, who opened the seminar series said: "It was great to see such enthusiasm for the wines of the Languedoc, both from those who were familiar with some of the wine regions, and from others with less experience. What seemed to strike many people, was both the diversity of styles being produced in southern France and the great quality of the best wines."

On and off-trade promotions included with in-store features, consumer competitions and sampling in participating delis and wine retailers and around 18,700 people entered the prize draw to win a holiday in Languedoc-Roussillon. 

"The festival is devised to reach a large consumer audience through a wide range of promotional activities and events. The success of the website and consumer activities is a clear demonstration that both, the festival format, encouraging partnerships and synergies, and substantial media investment reaching an audience in excess of 6 million, have paid off," said Isabelle Kanaan, executive director of Sud de France Export London office.

The Sud de France Festival was created five years ago in Brazil and Mexico, then extended in 2009 to New York, London and Shanghai following the opening of the Maisons du Languedoc in these cities, and it kicked off in Germany last year.