Northcote Manor’s Tony Lecuroux is the winner of The Ruinart Sommelier Challenge 2018.
He emerged victorious from a field of 27 sommeliers from all over the UK – whittled down from an initial entry of 80 – following a blind tasting of four sparkling wines on Monday.
Two sommeliers from 67 Pall Mall in London – Ying Guo and Klearhos Kanellakis came second and third respectively.
The 40-minute challenge involved writing detailed tasting notes, plus thoughts on ageing potential, serving temperature and food matches, on four sparkling wines.
In a twist, none of the blind tasting wines were champagne, with the tasters presented with a cava, prosecco and sparklers from England and Sonoma.
After winning the approval of a judging panel including Ruinart chef de caves Frédéric Panaïotis, Ronan Sayburn MS, Xavier Rousset MS and last year’s winner, Julia Sewell, Lecuroux wins a four-day educational trip to the Champagne region, where he will meet up with winners from 10 other countries from around the world.
‘Four sparkling wines, especially from Ruinart – it’s quite deceiving,’ said Panaïotis. ‘That’s why we do it this way. We’re looking for people who can separate the wines from the context with a fresh mind.’