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Northern talent dominates Champagne Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year

Published:  17 July, 2018

Alex Freguin, head sommelier at Moor Hall in Ormskirk, West Lancashire has been crowned the Champagne Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year 2018.

Alex beat Tamas Czinki, head sommelier at Northcote in Lancashire, and Pierre Brunelli, the beverage and wine manager at L’Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria, into second and third respectively in a close fought final at the Savoy hotel.

The competition, which is chaired by Gerard Basset MW, winner of the 2010 Best Sommelier in the World competition, is organised by The Caterer and sponsored by Champagne Taittinger.

It has been going since 1980.

Freguin said: “I was in the final with two other great sommeliers and we all had the chance to train together as we all work in businesses in the north, so it was special to be in the final with them. There is a real family relationship between us, which I hope we can maintain.

“I’m loving work every day at Moor Hall on the floor. It’s a passion and I’ve worked hard for this and I’m just so pleased it’s happened for me today.”

Having come through regional heats in April, 12 sommeliers from across Britain began the finals day at the Savoy.

After a series of tasks they were whittled down to three, who completed the final tasks in front of a live audience.

As part of the competition the finalists were required to identify errors on a wine list, undergo blind taste tests of wines and spirits, serve tables of former winners in a restaurant role play situation, and pour a magnum of Champagne Taittinger into 20 glasses.

Judges included deputy head judge Nicolas Clerc, Xavier Rousset and Ronan Sayburn, who took home the top spot on Harpers’ Hot 50 list 2018.

Part of Freguin’s prize includes a mentoring programme as well as educational trips to Rioja and Taittinger along with the other finalists in the Autumn.

Kevin McKee, UK Director – Family Taittinger, said: “Today’s final was a closely fought race, with the standard of competition impressively high. Alex showed superb composure under pressure to take the title, but all the finalists deserve credit for the commitment and excellence they have shown.”

The 2018 finalists were:

Melania Battiston, head sommelier, 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen

Markus Berlinghof, head sommelier, The Clove Club

Daniele Di Blassio, sommelier, Trishna Restaurants

Pierre Brunelli, beverage manager, L’Enclume

Tamas Czinki, head sommelier, Northcote

Gareth Ferreira, head sommelier, Core by Clare Smyth

Alex Freguin, head sommelier, Moor Hall Restaurant with Rooms

Mikael Grou, assistant head sommelier, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

Martin Jezek, senior sommelier, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Rudy Lemetayer, sommelier, Summer Lodge

Paul Robineau, sommelier, The Fat Duck

Julia Sewell, sommelier