Late on Saturday evening in Tartu, Estonia at the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix 2011, Kristjan Peäske of Estonia was declared the Best Baltic Sommelier and was awarded a wine trip worth €1000 courtesy of AS Liviko. Kristjan Markii of Estonia won second place and Liora Levi of Norway came third. This year, for the first time, competitors from Scandinavia also participated in the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix.
„The competition was very tough. I did not expect to win. The level of Nordic sommeliers is close to the top of the world and including them in the competition shows that we are able to compete at an international level outside of the Baltic states,“ said the winner of Vana Tallinn Grand Prix 2011 Kristjan Peäske, one of the owners of the restaurant Leib, Resto ja Aed.
„The winner stood out from among his competitors by his even level at performing all the tasks. It was visible that he has a lot of knowledge and experience,“ said chairman of the international jury Jouko Mykkänen, President of the Association of Sommeliers in Finland.
“The aim of this competition is to develop wine and alcohol culture and the event taking place in Tartu shows that we do not only concentrate on capital cities but work towards that goal all over the Baltic countries. It is extremely important that Baltic sommeliers have a chance to compare themselves to the best in Europe ” said Janek Kalvi, Chairman of AS Liviko.
“The participation of sommeliers from Scandinavia is extremely important to us, since there is a lot our sommeliers can learn from the Nordic countries, whose sommeliers have achieved high places at worldwide competitions. Nordic countries and the Baltic states are in a similar situation, because they do not really produce wine themselves and more emphasis is placed on the culture of serving wines,” said Kristel Nõmmik, President of the Estonian Sommeliers’ Association.
The Estonians competing for the title of the best sommelier in the Baltic states included last year’s winner Kristjan Markii (Restaurant Balthasar), Aivar Vipper (Tervis Spa Group) and Kristjan Peäske (Restaurant Leib, Resto ja Aed).
Both the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of the competitors were tested in the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix. On the first day, on October 28, the competitors had to answer questions in writing, followed by one practical task.
On Saturday, October 29, the finals of the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix were held for the best four competitors in the preliminary round – Kristjan Peäske ja Kristjan Markii of Estonia, Liora Levi of Norway ja Narimantas Mieźys of Lithuania. In the finals, the competitors had to demonstrate their professional skills in performing various tasks: blind tasting of wines and strong alcoholic drinks; decanting and serving red wine; recommending sparkling wines to match the dishes of a four-course meal and correcting an inaccurate wine card.
The fifth place was decided on the second day based on the speed and accuracy of pouring sparkling wine.
The best sommelier in the Baltic states was found by an international jury led by Jouko Mykkänen, Chairman of the Association of Sommeliers in Finland. The jury consisted of Tim Vollersev from the Danish Sommeliers’Association, Kristel Nõmmik and Urvo Ugandi from the Estonian Sommeliers’Association, Raimonds Tomsons from the Latvian Association of Sommeliers and Arūnas Starkus from the Lithuanian Sommelier Association.
The participants from Latvia pursuing the title of the best sommelier in the Baltic states were Zigmars Kalninś (Hotel Tallink Riga), Ronalds Petersons (Hotel Tallink Riga) and Kaspars Vezitis (SIA Rskorpions).
The participants from Lithuania competing in the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix were Arminas Darasevičius (wine shop Vyno klubas), Narimantas Mieźys (Restaurant Saint Germain) and Redas Norkeliunas (Restaurant Stikliai).
This year, for the first time, competitors from Scandinavia also participated in the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix: Pernille Folkersen from Denmark (Restaurant Kong Hans Kælder), Janne Halla from Finland (Restaurant Farang) and Liora Levi from Norway (Vinoteca).
The event of determining the best sommelier in the Baltic states received its name after a cult product of Liviko, Vana Tallinn Liqueur. Liviko organizes the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix in cooperation with Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Sommelier Associations. In 2006 the competition took place in Tallinn, in 2007 in Riga, in 2008 in Vilnius, in 2009 in Riga and in 2010 in Tallinn. Last year’s winner of the title of the best sommelier in the Baltic states was Kristjan Markii from Estonia.
AS Liviko is a producer of quality alcoholic beverages founded in the year 1898. AS Liviko has developed a distribution and wholesale network of alcoholic beverages in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The network is used to market imported brands from other producers of quality alcohol of the world as well as the enterprise’s own production. AS Liviko is one of the three largest alcohol companies in the Baltic states who focuses equally on importing alcoholic beverages as well as production. AS Liviko also owns a 50% shareholding in a Japanese company importing and distributing alcoholic products. Liviko employs 216 people in Estonia, 98 in Latvia and 72 in Lithuania.