On Thursday, 29 May, Karel Veski from AS Liviko was awarded the title Best Estonian Sommelier 2014, while Kristjan Markii, a multiple Estonian title winner got the second place and Maya Samuelsson of Sweden came in third. Piero Mastroberardino, president and owner of one of the oldest family wineries in Italy, served as an honorary member of the event’s international jury and the most important sommelier competition of the year – Tropheé Mastroberardino – was named after him.
“Although the competition was tough, all participants had an equal starting position. None of us had any idea of the tasks and tests that were waiting for us to be completed. Bearing in mind that the competition has been held for more than ten years and it was only the third time I had competed for the title Best Estonian Sommelier, the victory is especially satisfying for me. Despite the agonistic set-up, I really enjoyed it. On stage, the atmosphere resembled to a genuine restaurant setting with real clients. As presence of the audience was perceptible, but not disturbing, I was able to focus on attending to demanding and very knowledgeable clients, as well as answering their questions and catering to their wishes. The experience I gained at the competition is simply priceless!” commented Karel Veski, HoReCa sales representative from Liviko and winner of the title Best Estonian Sommelier 2014.
According to Kristel Nõmmik, president of the Estonian Sommelier Association, educating the general public of Estonia about wine culture and increasing people’s wine-related knowledge plays a major role in promoting the professional skills of sommeliers. “Indeed, we want to belong to Europe and share its cultural history stretching back over thousands of years. It is impossible to fully appreciate one of the central and oldest elements of European culture without basic knowledge of the world of drinks and the work of sommeliers,” said Nõmmik, adding that the level of the competition has significantly increased over the last years and participants representing Estonia are performing successfully in world-class international contests.
The annual premier event for Estonian wine sommeliers was held for the 14th time and this year, fifteen top Estonian sommeliers competed for the title. Also, three foreign participants added to the international atmosphere of the event. Four finalists were selected for the final part of the competition consisting of various elements of the sommelier practice. In addition to theoretic knowledge, the jury rated completing hands-on tasks as well. For example, participants had to pair chocolate with wine, demonstrate their decanting skills with a Magnum decanter, identify wines in a blind testing setting and mix a Negroni cocktail.
The best Estonian sommelier was selected by a nine-member international jury headed by Mrs Michèle Aström Chantôme from the International Sommeliers Association. Other jury members were: Mr Piero Mastroberardino, honorary jury member and president of Matroberardino winery; Kaidi Kerdt Masi, regional manager of Eastern European markets of the winery; Raimonds Tomsons, president of the Latvian Sommelier Association; Rasa Strakus, vice president of the Lithuanian Sommelier Association; Urvo Ugandi, manager of quality wines at AS Liviko; Kristjan Peäske, multiple Estonian title winner, and owner and manager of restaurant Leib ja Aed; Aivar Vippe, board member of the Estonian Sommelier Association and catering manager of Tervis Grupp AS; and Margit Kikas, president of the Estonian Bartenders Association.
The main sponsor of the Best Estonian Sommelier competition is Veinisõber OÜ, a supporting member of the Estonian Sommelier Association, along with the Mastroberardino winery. The competition is organised by the Estonian Sommelier Association.