Yohann Jousselin wins UK Sommelier of the Year after six attempts

By Becky Paskin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Wine, Uk sommelier

(L-R) Christian Holthausen from Piper Heidseck, Yohann Jousselin, Victor Lanson from First Drinks and Roy Ackerman from AFWS
(L-R) Christian Holthausen from Piper Heidseck, Yohann Jousselin, Victor Lanson from First Drinks and Roy Ackerman from AFWS
Yohann Jousselin, head sommelier at the Vineyard at Stockcross, has been named the UK Sommelier of the Year 2011 after six attempts at the title.

Having finished as runner-up for two years running, Jousselin finally won the title after delivering a consistent performance across a number of tasks in the comeptition organised by the Academy of Food and Wine Service.

Lukasz Kolodziejczyk and Loic Avril, both from The Fat Duck in Bray, were given second and third places respectively. Being the most accomplished sommelier aged under 30, Kolodziejczyk was also named the UK Young Sommelier of the Year.

The three finalists plus 13 additional competitors were tested throughout the day on their service skills and wine knowledge in a number of roleplay scenarios and exercises, including identifying the age of several cognacs and handling a guest who claimed to have been given a bottle of red Petrus instead of the (non-existent) white he ordered.

Jousselin, Kolodziejczyk and Avril then completed the legendary Champagne pour test, a blind tasting and wine list error correction.

Sixth time lucky

Jousselin, who lost out last year to Christopher Delalonde of Sarment Wines​ and in 2009 to former protégé Laura Rhys of Hotel Terravina​, said its was a “great relief” to have finally won.

“This is my sixth time doing the competition this year and my third time on the stage - I feel it’s a great achievement,” he said. “The level is going up and up and the competition is getting more difficult every year. I have felt that every year, but this year I was more relaxed and that’s what you need to win it.

“I don’t think I did my best performance today but I was quite consistent and that’s probably what helped me win. It’s a very good feeling.”

The panel of judges, led by Hotel Terravina founder Gerard Basset MW MS, also the technical director for AFWS, featured the likes of wine and food writer Nick Lander; AFWS director Matt Wilkin MS; Victor Lanson, marketing controller of First Drinks; and Ian Harris, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.

Basset said: “Yohann’s experience won through on the day, he was the more complete sommelier – he has very good service skills and has that extra flair that the judges were looking for. The final three were all of a fantastic standard."

Jousselin wins an all-expenses paid trip for two to Champagne, courtesy of Piper Heidsieck, including a personal tasting with the company’s Chef de Caves, Régis Camus.

Click here to listen to a live interview with Jousselin, who claims an exceptional sommelier must be adaptable to different guests and situations, and above all proud of his work.

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