Champagne Ruinart and Sommeliers Australia has held its 2019 Australian Ruinart Sommelier Challenge, with Manuel Conti of Black Bar & Grill coming out on top.
The Sommelier Challenge is part of Ruinart’s aim to develop global, and local, sommelier communities. The competition was open to all members of Sommeliers Australia, with 25 finalists from around the country selected to take part in this week’s final.
Judges on the Sommeliers Challenge day included Ruinart winemaker, Caroline Fiot (pictured above with Conti), Amanda Yallop (Group Sommelier, Fink), Timothy Perlstone (Wine Library) & Dean O’Reilly (Champagne Business Development Manager, Moët Hennessy).
The finalists took part in a blind tasting of four wines, focusing on a selection of white wines as well as technical training and lunch with Fiot.
Speaking about the quality of the finalists, Fiot said: “I’m very impressed by the talent of the Australian sommeliers who participated in the Sommeliers Challenge and am excited to be supporting the development of this community together with Sommeliers Australia.”
Following the blind tasting the panel chose Conti as the winner, with Max Gurtler of Momofuku Seiōbo in second and Andres Aragon of Merivale in third.
The prize for Conti includes an all-expenses paid business class trip to Champagne, where he will attend a four-day educational trip to Reims, hosted by Ruinart Chef de Caves Frédéric Panaïotis.