On 6th November 2015, Grupo Gourmets signed an agreement with the Union of Spanish Sommelier Associations (UAES) to organise the Sommeliers Championship of Spain for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Having staged the 22nd Championship at the fair’s thirtieth edition, this year we shall stage the 23rd Championship in IFEMA’s Hall 6 (‘Gourmets Stage’) on 26th and 27th April. The aim of the contest is to promote sommelier culture and select a sommelier who will be Spain’s best representative at the World Championships.
The Championship is split into two stages: the Semi-Final, which will take place on Wednesday 26th April; and the Grand Final, which will take place during the morning of Thursday 27th April, both at the ‘Gourmets Stage’.
In the Semi-Final contest, the participants will have to pass a test-type exam (featuring questions yet to be decided), a written tasting exam, a wine decanting trial and, finally, a language trial, in which they must demonstrate their knowledge in English, French and Italian. Out of all the participants (53 sommeliers registered for the last edition) only the three best will qualify for the Grand Final.
The next day, Thursday 27th, will witness the staging of the Grand Final, where the three contestants will pass through a series of technical trials whilst being assessed by a Jury of Experts. These trials will include the following: a rapid test; an oral wine-tasting trial; an erroneous menu; the identification of distilled spirits, liqueurs and beverages; the decanting and serving of a bottle of wine; and, to finish, the appropriate marriage of drinks chosen by the contestant for a menu chosen by the Jury.
The contestants must also be prepared for the surprise factor, given that the Jury may decide to carry out an improvised trial, consisting of any of the tasks that may be demanded within the professional life of a sommelier. Points will also be awarded for the attire worn by the contestants, not to mention the professionalism and style they demonstrate throughout the Championship.
There will only be one winner, who will be presented with a trophy and shall have the right to take part in the European or World Sommeliers Championships. The rest of the contestants will receive a participation diploma, which will indicate whether they have reached the Semi-Final or Grand Final accordingly.
Josep Pelegrin Rocamora, winner of the 22nd Glorioso Spanish Sommeliers Championship, was awarded the title of Best Sommelier in Spain 2016. Josep is the maître d’ and sommelier at El Petit Celler in Manresa.
Second-place was awarded to the young sommelier from Burgos, Diego González Barbolla, from Restaurante Cobo Vintage (Burgos), who stood out for his excellent decanting abilities. Javier Gómez Saenz, from the restaurant Es Racó d’es Teix (Majorca), the third finalist, admitted that “the most difficult thing was competing for the first time in front of the cameras, the press and the public.”
Video of the 22nd Spanish Sommeliers Championship 2016: