Assistant head sommelier at Michelin-starred Gymkhana in London, Andres Rangel, has been picked up the Sud de France UK Sommelier of the Year after a final held at The Queen’s Club.
The final, which involved sommeliers based in the south of England through to Scotland, took the form of an intensive day of knowledge-based and practical skills testing.
Rangel was crowned the victor on 30 September, becoming the ninth sommelier to pick up the coveted prize.
The competition tests sommeliers on their knowledge of the Occitanie region, which is comprised of the Languedoc, Roussillon, and part of the Rhône Valley and vineyards in south west France.
Rangel will go on to compete in the World Sud de France Sommelier competition due to be held in Spring 2020, and will be taken on a tour to meet producers in the region.
Prospective competitors are required to learn up about the regions in advance. On the day they will be tested on their knowledge in the form of a written test about the region’s characteristics, terroir and wines. Practical skills tests included planning wine lists, food matching, presenting wines to customers, commercial selling and enhancing the restaurant experience.
The judging panel was led by Douglas Blyde, wine columnist of Evening Standard ES magazine and the author of Wine List Confidential.
The eight finalists were whittled down to three and were tasked with pouring equal measures of Limoux from a magnum into 16 glasses.
Commenting on his win, Andres Rangel, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Sud de France competition. I spent a lot of time learning and preparing. I was very nervous on the day, but enjoyed every task, and I am looking forward to the big prize. There is so much more about Occitanie and its wines I want to get to know.”
Sud de France Sommelier of the Year Isabelle Kanaan, executive director for La Maison de la Région Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée, added: “Congratulations to Andres Rangel as a smart new ambassador for the region. We thank all the sommeliers who took up the challenge, and we applaud their enthusiasm. The region of Occitanie is very dynamic and offers such diversity, which makes it an adventure to visit and re-visit.
“Our competition format aims to test a combination of knowledge and precision, and to be an exhilarating celebration of the region’s wines which contribute more and more to the success of a modern wine list. Our judges have all added a dimension of real relevance to the tasks from their hands-on work in the trade. They helped to select the competition wines from across Sud de France, which offered that distinctive extra personality for our sommeliers to consider and enjoy.”
Previous winners include Ana Maria Martinez Terol, Terra Vina; Tamas Czinki, Northcote; Adam Pawlowski, Northcote; Lionel Periner, La Trompette, The Lucky Onion; Stefan Neumann, The Fat Duck, Dinner; Sara Bachiorri, The Glass House, Chez Bruce; Romain Henry, Hibiscus.