Andrew O’ Gorman, Secretary, Irish Guild of Sommeliers
The best sommelier of Europe competition took place in San Remo, Italy, during September, 2013. Julie Dupouy Sommelier/Wine Manager, Donnybrook Fair was the Irish Guild of Sommeliers competitor at these competitions. Julie is the current Best Sommelier in Ireland on winning the Irish Guild of Sommeliers National Competition held at the Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club in October, 2012.
Created in 1988 and organized until 2006 by Ruinart – the ancient Champagne vineyard in collaboration with the International Sommelier Association, the contest for Europe’s Best Sommelier is a prestigious international competition that is reserved for the most talented professional sommeliers coming from all over Europe.
The contest goal is to contribute to the valorisation of the wine tasting art of the sommelier that has evolved as a profession ever changing thanks to the competitive edge and strong desire to imitate the colleagues that are generated in highly selective contests. This competition allows special exchange of knowledge among sommeliers and the appreciation of the sommelier profession by the larger public.
The selection criteria for these competitions are very rigorous and are held under the supervision of a Technical Commission that includes, among others, five Best Sommeliers of the Word. One of these is also Master of Wine. Each national association organises its own contest to select its representative candidate for the Best Sommelier of Europe competition.
The competition, held every three years, saw the participation of the 37 best Sommeliers of their respective nations compete. Each of the 37 participating countries entered a candidate who, in Sanremo, competed in the quarter-finals with written and practical tests, semi-finals with practical tests and the final which featured three candidates for the Sommelier title. Friday 27 September, the quarter-finals took place with 37 candidates competing. Ten candidates including the Irish candidate Julie Dupouy went through to the semi-finals
All the qualifying stages, including the final, were held at the Casino Sanremo, a partner of this year’s competition. The grand finale for the Best Sommelier of Europe was held at the San Remo Casino on Sunday, September 29. The finals were open to the public who were able to watch the performances of Sommeliers doing their various tasks.
The competition was won by Jon Arvid Rosengren, Sweden, 2nd Place David Biraud, France ,3rd Place Julia Scavo, Romania.
Each candidate was accompanied by an official delegation composed of an accredited journalist and by the President of the sommelier association of that country. Oliver J. Murtagh, President and Andrew O’ Gorman, Secretary of the Irish Guild of Sommeliers along with Paul Young travelled to the competition with the Irish candidate Julie Dupouy.
Congratulations to Julie Dupouy on an excellent performance.
In the evening of the 27th September,2013 at Villa Nobel ,the final resting place of Alfred Nobel, who gave his name to the famous Nobel awards and thanks to the collaboration with the Province of Imperia, hosted “Emotions”, a competition created by ASPI, the Italian Sommelier Association and ASI ,the International Sommelier Association with Moët & Chandon Champagne, dedicated to the best journalistic or literary works that have as their theme the profession of sommelier.
The following were nominated for the journalist award: Nenan Basaric from Serbia, Philippe Faure-Brace from France and Andrew O’ Gorman from Ireland. Andrew O’ Gorman was announced as the winner.
The judges for this award were as follows:Giuseppe Vaccarini, President of the Italian Sommelier Association, Shinya Tasaki, President of the International Sommelier Association, Nichi Stefi, Producer National Radio-Television,Italy,Marco Bolasco, Chief Editor and CEO of Slow Food Editore and Michele Lenochi, Professor/Headmaster of the Faculty of Science Cattolica University.The jury evaluated the works of the candidates received, nominated the three finalists and also selected the final winner.
It was a great honour for me personally, the Irish Guild of Sommeliers and Ireland to receive such an award. I was presented with an original bronze statue from the famous Maestro Enrico Muscetra, a Diploma and a Jeroboam of Moét & Chandon Champagne.
Sincere thanks to Oliver Murtagh, President, Irish Guild of Sommeliers for submitting my name for this prestigious award.
Edward Dillon & Co. Limited are the agents in Ireland for Moét & Chandon Champag
Alfred Nobel’s Final Years in Sanrem
Alfred Nobel once said, “Home is where I work and I work everywhere.” It was a running commentary on the kind of life he had led as a result of his growing business empire. Rootless, though, he was not. Nobel managed to “settle down” at fixed points, from where he could oversee his spreading concern, which spanned the European continent and reached over to the United States.
Between the years 1865 to 1873, Alfred Nobel had his home, laboratory and the center of his business near his factory in Krümmel, Hamburg. He moved into a magnificent house on Avenue Malakoff in Paris in 1873, where he seemed to have settled permanently for almost two decades. He would, however, spend the last five years of his life, in a lovely villa overlooking the Mediterranean, in San Remo, Italy.
Sanremo, a town located in the Liguria region in northwestern Italy, has been a year-round health resort since 1861. It is located in that part of the Italian Riviera known as the Riviera dei Fiori, named for the flowers that are grown here and exported to continental Europe.
The property that Alfred Nobel bought at the Riviera di Ponente in 1891 had a large villa. The exterior carried influences from the kind of architecture more widespread in the orient. The Moorish-style villa was built on a large park, surrounded by an orange grove with palm trees and flower beds. The place was formerly owned by a Polish poet, Josephy Ignacy Kraszewsky who named it Mio Nido, “My Nest.” This new home was undoubtedly, for Alfred Nobel, a refuge from the political storm he left behind in France.
The move from Paris was certainly not a voluntary act. He had his social circles in the French capital that included Victor Hugo and he was in the midst of important experiments at his laboratory in Sevran, located 16 kilometres northeast of Paris.
It was the successful result of one of these experiments that would ironically banish him from his favourite Parisian home with its library, stables and orchid house. (He kept this house until the time of his death).
After his death, Villa Nobel was sold in accordance with Alfred Nobel’s last will. In the late 1960s, the property was bought by the authorities of Sanremo and was later used for cultural and scientific activities. Organized by the Sanremo authorities in cooperation with the Nobel Foundation, these gatherings were participated in by Italian and Swedish Nobel Laureates. Villa Nobel has been honoured by visits of the heads of state of Sweden and Italy and by members of the Royal Family of Sweden.
Villa Nobel and the adjacent laboratory are now being converted into a museum open to the public.
Sanremo continues to maintain its ties with Nobel, long after his death. Every 10th of December, large quantities of flowers sent by the authorities in Sanremo (the province of Imperia, the city of Sanremo and the Board for Tourist Promotion of the Riviera dei fiori), adorn the annual Nobel Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet in Stockholm.
A short distance from the French border separating Sanremo, is the Principality of Monaco. On Saturday 28th September in collaboration with the ‘Association Monégasque de la Sommelier competitors , delegates and guests attending the competition were honoured with a visit to the Principality for a tasting of the wines of the Cotes de Provence and subsequent gala dinner.
On the 30th September, 2013 A.S.I. elected its new President and Board in Sanremo. This event required a representative for each of the 54 member countries of ASI to be in attendance.
Oliver Murtagh, President Irish Guild of Sommeliers represented Ireland at these elections
On this occasion a special meeting of the “Club of the Best Sommelier of the World” was also scheduled. This Club is composed of the 14 sommeliers who won the competition since the first competition which was held in 1969.
After the splendid Strasbourg setting, where the last edition of the competition was held in 2010, for the thirteenth competition Sanremo was chosen. Sanremo is worldwide known as “city of flowers”.
Some venues have the power to keep all their memories. The passing time, the men transformations seem always add and never lessen, increasing the spell that surrounds them, granting them a present that displays all the past. Sanremo is one of those magic places whose beauty was born from the alliance of history and future, a fresco made by its flowers that are celebrated everywhere, by its temperate climate, by its turquoise sea and by other unforgettable images.
With the passing of time, Sanremo has become an elegant town of worldwide fame that greets visitors and tourists in any period of the year with events and multiple amusements opportunities, among them the Casino and the Italian Music Festival.
The Riviera of Flowers
Since very long time the town intrigues its guests with its natural beauty and its historic and artistic setting. There are the old town center, the surroundings infused by natural perfumes and uncontaminated sceneries.
In the typical medieval little villages that surround the city, like Dolceacqua, Apricale, Triora, the time is still measured by the seasons of the new oil and the new wine, extraordinary products of this patch of land between sky and sea, where the progress did not taint traditions that are kept instead alive for the future.
To ensure exposure of Sanremo and the Flowers Riviera in the national and international markets while promoting the territory by means of collateral initiatives like visits to winemakers and oil producers, specialty foods display etc.
To launch the Liguria’s food culture as an example of Italian excellence by pairing it with an important event in the wine sector.
To make known specialty foods local producers at the international level.
Founded in 1866, Monte Carlo has a name of Italian origin meaning “Mount Charles”, in honor of the then-reigning prince, Charles III of Monaco. The specific mountain is the escarpment at the foot of the Maritime Alps on which the town stands.
The history of the area and the ruling Grimaldi family, however, dates back centuries. The port of Monaco is first mentioned in historical records as early as 43 BC, when Julius Caesar concentrated his fleet there while waiting in vain for Pompey. In the 12th century, the area fell under the sovereignty of Genoa, which was granted the entire coastline from Porto Venere to Monaco. After much conflict, the Grimaldis regained the rock in 1295, but suffered a significant amount of opposition in the ensuing years. In 1506 the Monegasques, under Lucien, Lord of Monaco, were under siege for some four months by the Genoan army, which had ten times the number of men. Monaco officially received full autonomy in 1524, but experienced difficulty retaining power, and on occasions briefly fell under the domination of Spain, Sardinia, and France.
By the 1850s Monaco’s reigning family was almost bankrupt; this was a result of the loss of two towns, Menton and Roquebrune, which had provided most of the principality’s revenues with their lemon, orange and olive crops. At the time, a number of small towns in Europe were growing prosperous from the establishment of casinos, notably in German towns such as Baden-Baden and Homburg. In 1856 Charles III of Monaco granted a concession to Napoleon Langlois and Albert Aubert to establish a sea-bathing facility for the treatment of various diseases, and to build a German-style casino in Monaco. The initial casino was opened in La Condamine in 1862, but was not a success; its present location in the area called “Les Spélugues” (The Caves) of Monte Carlo, came only after several relocations in the years that followed. The success of the casino grew slowly, largely due to the area’s inaccessibility from much of Europe. The installation of the railway in 1868, however, brought with it an influx of people into Monte Carlo and saw it grow in wealth.
In 1911 when the Constitution divided the principality of Monaco in three municipalities, the municipality of Monte Carlo was created covering the existing neighborhoods of La Rousse / Saint Roman, Larvotto / Bas Moulins and Saint Michel. The municipalities were merged into one in 1917, after accusations that the government was acting according to the motto “divide and conquer” and they were accorded the status of wards (quartiers) thereafter. Today, Monaco is divided into 10 wards, with an eleventh ward planned (but currently postponed) to encompass land reclaimed from the sea (see the “Administrative Divisions” section of Monaco for additional details).
The quarter of Monte Carlo was served by tramways from 1900 to 1953, linking all parts of Monaco (see transportation in Monaco). In 2003 a new cruise ship pier was completed in the harbour at Monte Carlo.
ASI ( Association de la Sommellerie Internationale ) was founded in France on the 3-4 June 1969 and has the Following Aims:
to bring together the national associations sommelier (just one member association per country) and to promote their founding where they do not yet exist;
to co-ordinate actions aimed at developing and advancing the profession by various means (training courses, etc..);
to enhance the sommelier’s profession by educating the consumer ;
to defend the ethics of the profession.
ASI participates in all events related to wine, spirits and other drinks, and Is Able to take any action Directly or Indirectly Aimed at its Objectives defined above.
The ASI legal headquarters are located in Paris (France) and is administered by the member country holding the presidency for a three-year period. The Council Comprises of the President, a General Secretary, helped by an Assistant Secretary, a Treasurer and an Assistant Treasurer, as well as the Presidents of each national member association or Their Elected representatives.
The competition for the title of Best Sommelier of Europe has always been an event of great appeal for wine professionals. Technically similar to a World Cup, for each candidate it is a prestigious stage and an opportunity to test the knowledge of a profession that is growing globally.
The ability to build an international vision and expertise to master with one or more foreign languages and, not least, a good knowledge of the rules of sales, marketing and communication as applied to wine, are features that open the doors to a profession in high demand around the world. A title such as that of the Best Sommelier of Europe is an accolade of the highest order for the most qualified and ambitious candidates.
“The Art of sommellerie – says Giuseppe Vaccarini – is a dynamic profession that has evolved in recent decades in all countries of the world and the competition for the titles of Best Sommelier of Europe and the World reflects the universality of the profession of sommelier. The sommelier should be a repository of knowledge at 360 ° not only on world wine, but also on all the beverages that accompany the meal, as the tables in the world today are laden by suggestions Global that come together in a transversal manner with international cuisines. ”
In conclusion I sincerely thank Oliver Murtagh and members of the Irish Guild of Sommeliers for affording me the opportunity to attend the Best Sommelier of Europe Contest 2013 and associated events in Sanremo, Italy.
A special thanks Oliver for sending in my entry for the Emozioni Prix Littéraire International. It was a great honour for me to win this prize.