Sud de France sommelier competition winner revealed

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Wine

Austrian-born Stefan Neumann is the third winner of the competition
Austrian-born Stefan Neumann is the third winner of the competition
Austrian-born Stefan Neumann from The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray has won the 2011 Sud de France sommelier competition, held at the Maison de la Region Languedoc-Roussillon in Cavendish Square, London.

The 26-year-old triumphed out of 58 contestants and is the third winner of the competition, which is designed to test sommeliers’ knowledge of Languedoc-Roussillon wines.

“I am extremely happy to have won,” said Neumann. “It was partly team work really as all my colleagues helped me to prepare the competition and gave me a lot of support, but at the end of the day it was my performance there.

“I was a bit nervous, but did my best to relax. It’s all about passion and I love Languedoc-Roussillon wines, which I discovered at Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons; and now I’m working at The Fat Duck with Isa Bal, who is a great source of inspiration.”

The competition put contestants through a three-part examination including a written test, proof-reading a wine list and a blind tasting. The results were close and, for the first time, four contestants made it through to the final – Neumann, Victoria Zwierzynski (runner-up), Philippe Denoual and Philippe Moranges.

Isabelle Legeron MW, who chaired this year’s competition, said: “The competition was really serious, professional and challenging. It is a real achievement to win this award and I hope it will motivate sommeliers to take part next year.

“Stefan was a really strong candidate; he clearly knows the region very well and is passionate about his job. He was very confident, extremely engaging and completely at ease with his wine choices and recommendations.”

The Sud de France Sommelier Competition is part of the Sud de France Festival, held in London from 9-26 September. The festival is a worldwide event, also being held in New York, Shanghai, Brazil, Mexico and Germany.

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