Paul Fauvel, head sommelier at The Lanesborough has been named winner of the UK Ruinart Sommelier Challenge 2020 by judges Ronan Saybourn MS, Ruinart chef de cave Frédéric Panaïotis and last year’s winner Jitka Auermüllerová. Dion Wai of Dinner at Heston Blumenthal and Dorianne Neimard of New Street Wine have been named runners-up.
The competition entailed a 40-minute blind tasting of four wines; for each, participating somms had to write detailed tasting notes as well as food pairing suggestions, ideal serving temperature and ageing potential.
The challenge focuses on a specific theme each year. For this edition, the competitors were presented with four vintage champagnes, each of a different vintage and displaying a characteristic style. The lineup was:
- Agrapart Mineral Blanc de Blancs 2012
- Cédric Bouchard Roses de Jeanne Côte de Val Vilaine Blanc de Noirs 2016
- Dom Pérignon 2008
- Bérèche Le Cran Ludes 1er Cru 2011
‘The blind tasting was, as always... challenging,’ commented Panaïotis. ‘Four champagnes, from four different vintages, varieties and styles. Our congratulations to Paul Fauvel as he submitted a set of very considered tasting notes, with accurate descriptions and good guesses.’
Fauvel will partake in an educational four-day trip to Champagne in June, in the company of 14 other national winners from countries around the globe. The trip will include a private tour of Ruinart's Domaine Les Crayères, a tasting session, and a CIVC ‘experimental vineyard tour’.
‘I really enjoyed the UK finals day,’ said Fauvel. 'It was a good opportunity to challenge my tasting skills, learn more, and also to meet the other Sommelier finalists... I’m really looking forward to my trip to Champagne, as I’ve heard it’s an exceptional experience.’