I know Chenin Blanc, sirand this is no Chenin Blanc!
Well, maybe the dialogue wont be as dramatic as that, but next Tuesday, May 25th, at the Astor Center, some of NYCs top sommeliers will gather to face off to see how well they know the syrahs, sauvignon blancs, cabernets, pinotages, and chenin blancs of South Africas vines in the first annual Sommelier World Cup.
It’s a challenge that riffs on the other World Cup, of course, and that kicked off in the Netherlands last March and has been working its way the globe round, seeking out the finest noses and palates the wine world has to offer.
Next week, its New Yorks turn to show what weve got: Stay tuned for a report on the final results for the industry-only event next Tuesday.
We wanted to draw attention to the super high caliber of American sommeliers, including those based in NYC, says Stephen Munshin, our esteeemd publisher, who partnered with WOSA (Wines of South Africa) to shine a light on the event. And indeed, the competition in NYC is stiff, with wine pros like Olivier Dufeu of Bouley, Jared Fischer, Le Bernardin, Hiromi Kiyama of Nobu 57, Robert Hamilton of Porterhouse New York, and Nick Robinson of Tocqueville signed up to compete for a chance to swirl-off against the best sommeliers in the world in mid-October, where the finals will take place.
What do they have to do to get there? Oh, just sit through a tough written-theory and multiple-choice exam, followed by a blind tasting of South African wines, during which contestants will be asked to describe the wines in detailand by detail, they dont just mean, Mmmm, this smells lemony! Contestants will have to pin-point the varietal, the vintage, the region of origin within South Africa, as well as the producer. Oh, and make spot-on wine and food pairing suggestions, too.
Add to that a seriously intimidating panel of judges standing sentry at the competition–the legendary Master Sommelier Roger Dagorn, formerly of the dearly departed Chanterelle and now serving as beverage director at Porter House, Andrew Bell, President of the American Sommelier Association (huzzah!), and Bernie Sun of the Jean-Georges Groupand this is no easy free ride to tour the vineyards of South Africaalthough certainly one worth fighting for, as the advances in their wine industry since the fall of apartheid in 1990 has lead to a virtual blossoming of the industry.
Who will win? We’ll release the final results next week. If you’re lucky enough to be a member of the wine press, meanwhile, you are welcome to attend, and should RSVP to [email protected] or 212.505.1616.