Over 50 of the UK’s finest sommeliers and wine buyers congregated in St Mary’s Church in Marylebone for the first day of the 2016 Sommelier Wine Awards.
The judges travelled in from all over the country – Damon Little of Restaurant Nathan Outlaw caught a plane at the crack of dawn from Cornwall to join the cause. Industry stalwarts Martin Lam, Jade Koch and Andrea Briccarello were joined by new faces including recently crowned Imbibe Restaurant Personality of the Year, Sunaina Sethi of JKS Restaurants, and 2015 Moët Sommelier of the Year Tanguy Martin.
From house reds to vintage champagne, English still wines to ice wines, zesty Txakolis to textured Rhône-blends from Australia, it was a busy day.
‘I like the opportunity to look at trends,’ said Little. ‘And the chance to network – there’s a lot of skilled palates here! There’s often contrasting opinions– it’s great that everyone is confident enough to give their opinion.’
‘Portugal was interesting. Especially the Douro reds – they were good value,’ he continued.
‘My favourite flight was Albariño,’ said Tanguy Martin, after much deliberation. ‘Although the Australian Syrah-Grenache-Mourvèdre blends were lovely and versatile.’ A couple of wines from Sicily and Sardinia – ‘one cheap and cheerful, and one of the priciest ones’ – made it onto Martin’s Tasted It, Want It wishlist of wines to be notified about post-results release.
The first round of judging of the Sommelier Wine Awards continues this week and next, with the second round in mid-March. Results will be released in late April.
There are still a few spaces for judges on Monday 29 February. You can apply online.
Photo: Ken Street