Best Young Sommelier crowned by Moët et Chandon

Wednesday, 6 September, 2017
Judy Brower - wine.co.za
Service improvement is top of mind in the hospitality sector. Competitions like the Moët Best Young Sommelier contribute substantially to the process and the South African Sommeliers Association has played a major role since it inception just a few short years ago.

What goes around comes around! 

It has been quite a while since the last Moët Best Young Sommelier competition - and in fact it was in 2013 - when Xolani Mancotywa was crowned the top man.  And now - 4 years later, Xolani is working for Moët Hennessy at RGBC,  and hosting this year's competition.

Congratulations to the winner:  Wikus Human, the only Joburg candidate to reach the semis.

The competition drew strong talent and skill from Joburg and Cape Town, and the 6 finalists who made it to the semis on 4th Sept were Pardon Taguzu, who works at Aubergine, (also a member of Team Zim going to France next month to compete in the World Blind Wine-tasting Champs), Marine Point (also recently qualified in France with the French Worldsom Diploma), Wikus Human (the only candidate from Joburg to make it to the semis) - who currently works at Marble (David Higgs' restaurant), Isabella Immenkamp (who works as a consultant somm), James Mukosi - assistant to Tawanda Marume at Rust en Vrede, and Oliver Loxton from Villa 47 on Bree.

The 6 wrote the theory exams in the morning on Monday 4th Sept, and the top 4 went on to the final practicals during the afternoon, which are in fact open to an audience, which must be very stressful for the candidates, but fun to watch!

James, Wikus, Isabella, Marine, Pardon & Oliver

After the first practical, another one was eliminated (sadly Marine Point), and then the last 3 went through a last set of practical tests, one of which was to pour a magnum of Moët bubbly into 16 glasses - and ensuring they each get the same quantity, without being able to go back to a previous glass and when all the glasses are done, the bottle must be finished.  A tough test!

The finals were tough and tense, and as the judges said afterwards, were very close. 

We all held our collective breaths as they were put through their paces - from identifying as much as possible, blind, from a glass of white wine, to suggesting wines to go with dishes on a menu they had never seen, to identifying mistakes on a wine list (which stumped most of us), to decanting a bottle of wine.

Competitions like these are great for the wine industry for so many reasons, and it is surprising that a South African wine brand has not yet snapped it up.

Judy Brower

Judy has been running wine.co.za alongside her hubby Kevin Kidson since 1996. She takes photos, attends functions, writes occasionally, sells wine.co.za services, is Mrs HR at the company, cooks yummy lunches from time to time and generally is the glue at wine.co.za

Winner Wikus Human, Xolani Mancotywa & Pardon Taguzu (1st runner-up)
Winner Wikus Human, Xolani Mancotywa & Pardon Taguzu (1st runner-up)

Marine Point
Marine Point

The 4 finalists - Isabella, Marine, Wikus & Pardon
The 4 finalists - Isabella, Marine, Wikus & Pardon

Neil Grant watching Wikus in the final round
Neil Grant watching Wikus in the final round

Isabella being tested
Isabella being tested

James, Wikus, Isabella, Pardon, Marine & Oliver
James, Wikus, Isabella, Pardon, Marine & Oliver

Xolani & Rob (Moet) with all the finalists and judges
Xolani & Rob (Moet) with all the finalists and judges

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