Romain Iltis wins Best Sommelier of France 2012!


Although it was rainy, windy and even a touchdown of a mini Tornado just outside of the city, there was still no other place better than Marseille to host the 27th edition of the Best Sommelier of France. On October 15, 2012 and with over 600 persons watching in suspense the final tests of knowledge and showmanship, turnout was high at the Center Pharo located on the Port side of the city.

Marseille which at the gates of the Provence wine region hosted the event this year in partnership with the Association of Sommelier of Provence, the Lycée  Hôtelier de Marseille,  the Conseil Interprofessioinnel des Vins de Provence and the Conseil General du Var.

The remaining four competitors in the competition were returning contenders 29 years old Antoine Pétrus – Director of the restaurant Lasserre in the 8th arrondisement of Paris,  31 years old Pascaline Lepeltier – Wine Director of the Tomate Rouge of New York, 30 years old Romain Iltis – Chef Sommelier of the Arnsbourg restaurant in Baerenthal situated between Alsace region and La Moselle, and 27 years old Florent Martin one of the many Sommeliers of the Four Seasons George V in Paris.

The introductory test that started off the contest was to identify the origins of  a sparkling wine. One of the contenders’ thought that the sparkling wine was coming from Burgundy (a Crémant de Bourgogne), while the others thought that it was a Champagne. The wine was in fact a Saumur brut, 100% Chenin bl. So it goes to show that even the best can also be mistaken…
The Final four competitors were challenged with five different and very complicated tests in just 35 minutes which were:

1. To identify from seven glasses the provenance of the wines and their vintages.

2. To serve a table of eight persons with advice on the wine that could be taken with the dinner that has been already chosen.

3. To advise a table of English speaking customers (in English)where to go to see the Arts of the Provence region.

4. Because a restaurant is opening soon, the contender must correct the wine list and make suggestions to complete the list.

5. Because the customer arriving doesn’t drink wine, the Sommelier must make suggestions of non-alcoholic drinks to be taken with the meal selected.

Two years ago, the winner was  Benjamin Roffet, Chef Sommelier at the Prestigious Trianon Palace restaurant in Versailles. This year winner was Romain Iltis – Chef Sommelier of the Arnsbourg restaurant. Romain was also a contender during the last three Contests for Best Sommelier of France. His patience and perseverance finally paid off. Congratulations to you Romain and good luck for the Meilleur Sommelier in the World to be held in Japan 2013!

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