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Semi-finalists to go head-to-head in Moët UK Sommelier of the Year 2016

Published:  06 April, 2016

The twelve semi-finalists who have made it through to the penultimate round of the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year competition have been announced.

The twelve semi-finalists who have made it through to the penultimate round of the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year competition have been announced.

The winners from regional heats in London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Bristol will go through to the semi-final in London on May 16, with the grand final to be held later that day for the top three contestants.

The winner will follow in the footsteps of famous sommeliers such as Xavier Rousset, Nicolas Clerc, Jan Konetzki and last year's champion, Tanguy Martin, to be crowned the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year.

The winners of the 2016 regional heats are as follows: Ladislav Basta, Head Sommelier, The Kitchin for Scotland; Tamas Czinki, Head Sommelier, Northcote Restaurant for the North of England; Christopher Parker, Assistant Head Sommelier, Lime Wood for the West of England; Serdar Balkaya, Head Sommelier, Royal Automobile Club for London; and Mathias Camilleri, Head Sommelier, The Five Fields Restaurant for London.

They will be joined by the highest scoring runners up: Terry Kandylis, Head Sommelier, 67 Pall Mall; Jess Kildetoft, Head Sommelier, Mash London; Olivier Marie, Head Sommelier, Coq d'Argent; Remi Fischer, Head Sommelier, Old Course Hotel; Petri Pentikainen, Sommelier & Ass. Restaurant Manager, The Three Chimneys Restaurant; Neils Suliman, Assistant Chef Sommelier, Restaurant Sat Bains.

Moët & ChandonMoët & Chandon

Also joining the semi-final is 2015 runner-up, Romain Bourger, Head Sommelier at The Vineyard at Stockcross and winner of the 2016 Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Young Sommelier Competition.

This is the fifth year that the Sommelier of the Year competition has partnered with Champagne Moët & Chandon.

Julie Nollet, Marketing and Communication Director for Moët Hennessy UK, said: "Our four years of working with the AFWS [Academy of Food & Wine Service] for this competition has shown that the UK has some of the highest standards of sommellerie of anywhere in the world. Our mission is to enhance the learning and experience for every entrant - no matter which stage of the competition they reach - takes with them, and we're very pleased to be able to do this again for the fifth year."

Candidates are judged on their wine and drink expertise as well as their ability to deal efficiently and knowledgeably with customers by demonstrating exemplary front of house skills.

An initial paper-based judging led to the regional heats and before the final the last 12 will have the opportunity to visit the Moët & Chandon House and vineyards in order to learn more about the Champagne region and the Moët & Chandon wines.

Chief Judge Gerard Basset OBE, MW, MS added: "This is the competition for all sommeliers in the country. Standards are improving all the time as restaurants put more emphasis on wines and their sommeliers are expected to know far more than ever before. The competition tests all areas of sommellerie and the vast knowledge they must possess. Its winners go on to become role models for young people in the food and beverage industry."

In addition to being awarded with an engraved, silver plated jeroboam of Moët & Chandon Impérial, the 2016 champion will win a "money can't buy" mentoring programme organised by Moët, the AFWS and The Caterer.

Last year's winner, Tanguy Martin - formerly of Terravina and now Head Sommelier at Chiswick's La Trompette, said: "The Moët Sommelier of the Year competition is a real experience. From the moment you enter, the journey starts and doesn't stop. When you are preparing for the competition, you are learning every day - you will be tasting new wines and products and discovering new regions and meeting new people who will teach you, train you and support you. This not only increases your knowledge, but also your passion for wine - it's a challenging competition, but every moment is worth it."

The Moët UK Sommelier of the Year competition has been organised by the Academy of Food & Wine Service since 1980, and is internationally recognised by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI).

AFWS is the professional body for front-of-house service.

AFWS offers advice and training to anyone following or considering a career as a sommelier, wine waiter, waiter, bar manager or restaurant manager.