South African takes 4th place at international sommelier competition
The most challenging aspect of the competition was undoubtedly the theory paper – a test unlike any other I’ve ever encountered - Jeff Lopes
The Saxon Boutique Hotel, Villas and Spa is renowned for its superb food and wine. So it wasn’t too surprising that the hotel's Jeff Lopes represented South Africa at the international Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Jeunes Sommeliers Competition, and claimed 4th place.
The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs international gastronomic society dates back to the 13th century, and the annual Jeunes Sommeliers Competition was first introduced in 2007 to test the skills of young sommeliers. While the competition may be aimed at 'junior' sommeliers (from ages 21 to 35), the stringent criteria are very demanding.
Twelve sommeliers were selected to represent South Africa internationally after regional selections in June. They were pitted against the best in the world and examined on both theory and practical knowledge.
The young sommeliers were tested on a variety of topics, including decantation of vintage wines, menu correction, food and wine pairing, and a very challenging blind-tasting of selected wines from around the world.
The 27-year-old Lopes said the pressure was definitely on. 'The most challenging aspect of the competition was undoubtedly the theory paper – a test unlike any other I’ve ever encountered,' he said.
'But just competing has been a very proud moment in my life. Representing South Africa at home and the camaraderie and friendships developed have also been greatly rewarding,' he added.
The Saxon sommelier team is very passionate about the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Jeunes Sommeliers Competition. The hotel has had an excellent run the past 3 years. Head Sommelier, Frances Krone, who has previously participated in the competition, will continue to groom young sommeliers.