Xolani Mancotywa, 2013 Best Young Sommelier in South Africa Competes for International Title in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, 1 October, 2013
Vice Chargée de Presse des Etats-Unis
Xolani Mancotywa, 27, Sommelier at the Saxon Hotel, Johannesburg has wonthe title of 2013 Best Young Sommelier in South Africa.  He will beflying to Washington, D.C., USA to compete for top honours in theworldwide contest.  The contest will be held at the Washington, D. C.Fairmont Hotel in Georgetown on Friday, October 18 2013.  Thes

The national and international competitions are similar in format to what is used by the Court of Master Sommeliers.  During the day-long exam, the sommeliers will be tested on Theory, Practical Skills, and Blind Tasting.   In 2013 the candidates were required to be between the ages of 21 and 35; in 2014, the top age will drop to 30.  This year the gender balance is almost equal, with seven men and five women seeking this prestigious international title.

The other 11 competitors are: 

  • Australia: Jarrod Mills, 32, Est Restaurant, Sydney;
  • China: Ying Guo (Miss), 30, Four Seasons Hotel, Pudong District, Shanghai;
  • Cyprus: George Loukakis,31,Columbia Plaza, Limassol; Since June, Hedone Restaurant, London, UK;
  • Denmark:  Christian Thorsholt Jacobsen, 27, MASH – Modern American Steak House, Copenhagen;
  • Finland:  Elisa Närhi (Miss), 26, Tampereen Särkänniemi Oy Restaurant, Laiturikatu;
  • France:  Jérôme Georges, 25, Restaurant La Carambole, Schiltigheim;
  • Germany: Verena Hof (Miss), 26, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Munich;
  • Russia: Ksenia Karpenko (Miss), 30, Hotel Baltschug Kempinski, Moscow;
  • Turkey: Selen Gozen (Miss),26, San Restaurant, Istanbul;
  • United Kingdom: Loic Avril, 27, The Fat Duck, Bray (Berkshire);
  • United States: Bobby Conroy, 32, BENU, San Francisco, CA.

The winner will be announced and receive his/her gold medal and trophy at a celebratory dinner at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Friday, October 18.

Originally from Cape Town, Xolani Mancotywa has been sommelier at the Saxon Hotel in Sandhurst, Gauteng, South Africa, since 1 November 2012.  He holds the rank of Certified Sommelier (March 2013) from the Court of Master Sommeliers, based in the United Kingdom.  In addition, he has also achieved distinction in several other wine achievements, the Level 3 Advanced exam of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) - Cape Town, South Africa(April 2013) and Level 2 Intermediate (October 2012).  

Xolani became interested in wine as a career at Warwick Chef School during wine appreciation lectures in 2008.  “I was intrigued by the other learners being able to associate freshly cut grass with Sauvignon Blanc,” he said.  “In that moment I knew I had a lot to drink and subsequently learn. This was with the hope of also enlightening those that were as lost as I was when it came to wine.
Turning his attention to wine preferences and wine popularity Xolani remarked, “Our clientele at the Saxon is 60% international, with a strong 40% local market.Locals tend to be open to the international wines we offer. The international travelers believe in having local wines. 

“Pinotage and Chenin Blanc are favorite choices for travelling guests staying at the hotel. These are at the bed rock of the South African wine industry. For an international traveler, it is always great to taste the local produce. Areas like Stellenbosch are producing phenomenal wines that have guests shipping cases back home.
Given his extensive experience and expertise, how did Xolani Mancotywa prepare for his South African exam and the international competition in Washington, D.C. ?  His straightforward answer was, “Study, study, study. Taste, taste, taste.  Do service training daily. Eat, live, and breathe it."

“It is surreal to compete at this high level,” he admitted.  “This is the first competition I have had the privilege to take part in. As a lover of our beautiful country, it is with pride one can compete and expose the world to what we do. It’s a global team effort.”
The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs focuses numerous programs on the promotion of the hospitality industry at the chapter, national, and international level and also provides scholarships and other support through its Foundation.  In addition to the Young Sommeliers competition, the Chaîne sponsors national and international Young Chefs competitions.  Both encourage younger members of the hospitality industry as they pursue their chosen careers.  Information about the U. S. Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is available at its website, www.chaineus.org.  The international website is www.chainedesrotisseurs.com.