Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Kai Mayfair sommelier takes home the 2023 UK Ruinart gong

Published:  22 February, 2023

Mateusz Kowlczyk of Kai Mayfair has been announced as the winner of the 2023 UK Ruinart Sommelier Challenge, taking home the title in the seventh year of the competition.

A popular competition among up-and-coming somms, the annual challenge is also notable for its judging pedigree, with Ronan Sayburn MS presiding alongside others including chef de cave Frédéric Panaïotis and 2022 winner Mark Ron Patana, sommelier at Medlar.

This year’s judging took place at The Conduit in London on Monday (20 February), where Kowlczyk competed alongside runners up Melania Battiston, also from Medlar, and Antonio Palmarini from Beaverbrook Townhouse.

He will now join the 14 international winners on a four-day educational visit to Reims in Champagne.

On the day, 25 finalists competed in a difficult four-wine blind tasting, as well as taking part in an in-depth masterclass.

Presented by Panaïotis and dubbed Climate Change and Grape Ripening Dynamics, the session shone the spotlight on changing weather patterns in Champagne and its effects on vineyards.

“Following a particularly hot and early 2022 vintage, being able to share how Champagne in general and Ruinart, in particular, is addressing new challenges was a great way to raise more awareness in the wine industry,” Panaïotis said.

“Prior to the seminar, the tasting really showcased the expertise of the 25 participating sommeliers from across the UK, with the blind tasting of the four different Champagnes. Ronan, Mark and I had a difficult time choosing a winner as the quality of the submissions was very impressive.”

Now in its seventh year, the concept of The Ruinart Sommelier Challenge was created in 2010 by Panaïotis and the Ruinart winemaking team with the ambition to develop an international training and mentoring programme for sommeliers.

During that time, the team has built “an incredible community of sommeliers”, Panaïotis said, and now hopes to continue its work helping to “educate, develop and promote the wine community” across the world.

Speaking of his ‘luck’ of winning the competition the first time round, Kowlczyk said: “A Master of Wine recently mentioned a quote that really resonates today, ‘the more I practice the luckier I get!’

“I had to draw on all my on-trade experience, and this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my wine colleagues and friends… I’m very much looking forward to visiting Frédéric and the team in Champagne.”