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Gymkhana star takes home Sud de France UK Sommelier gong

Published:  03 October, 2019

A new winner has been crowned the Sud de France UK Sommelier of the Year after finalists went head-to-head to put their skills and knowledge to the test under the eyes of the judges.

The competition was set up a decade ago to encourage and celebrate expertise on wine from what is now known as the region of Occitanie, which encompasses the Languedoc Roussillon, part of the Rhône Valley and the South-West.

This year, the coveted gong went to Andres Rangel, assistant head sommelier at Michelin-starred Gymkhana in Mayfair.

The final stage of the competition took place at The Queen’s Club in London on 30 September in front of a judging panel that included drinks columnist Douglas Blyde and Victoria Sharples, head of wine at St John Wine restaurant and wine group. 

Candidates were put through their paces with a written test on the region and its terroir, followed by food matching, commercial selling and precision serving skills.

The eight finalists were then whittled down to three, with Rangel, Matthieu Ghezouli of Restaurant Martin Wishart Ramiro Fernandez, Aquavit London, showing their flair by pouring equal measures of a Limoux magnum into 16 glasses.

Isabelle Kanaan, executive director for La Maison de la Région Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée, said: “We thank all the sommeliers who took up the challenge, and we applaud their enthusiasm. The region of Occitanie is very dynamic and offers such diversity, which makes it an adventure to visit and re-visit. Our competition format aims to test a combination of knowledge and precision, and to be an exhilarating celebration of the region’s wines which contribute more and more to the success of a modern wine list.”

Rangel will now go on to compete in the World Sud de France Sommelier competition in spring 2020.