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South Africa Jeunes Sommeliers

Johannesburg, May 29, 2013

Our 2013 National Final of the Jeunes Sommeliers Competition was held in Johannesburg at The Saxon Hotel.

We had 4 entrants from 4 of the local Bailliages in South Africa:
- Welma Beukes from Singita Game Reserve (Bailliage of Lowveld)
- Xolani Mancotywa from The Saxon Hotel (Bailliage of Johannesburg)
- Gregory Mutambe from The Twelve Apostles Hotel (Bailliage du Cap)
- Ane Wait from Brasserie de Paris (Bailliage of Pretoria)

This was the first year that the Regional and National competition entrants undertook the same tasks as at the International Final with the addition of the final task - that of glass service also food and wine pairing.

The young sommeliers started off the morning having to correct a faulty wine list followed by a tough written paper for an hour. After a short break, sparkling wine service and spirits and liqueur identification took place.

We placed four different shaped decanters on the counter for the sommeliers to choose from for their decanting exercise - which proved to be challenging, depending on which decanter was chosen!!

Throughout the sparkling wine and decanting process we put the sommeliers through their paces asking them questions on vintages and wines in general. Glass service and wine pairing to a set menu of three dishes completed the service tasks. An Old World and New World wine was to be paired with each dish and their choices explained.

After a long and testing day, the sommeliers and the judges were exhausted and relieved that it was over!

At the Gala Dinner that evening, the winners of both the National Jeunes Chefs Rôtisseurs and Jeunes Sommeliers Competitions were announced. South Africa’s best young sommelier for 2013 was declared to be Xolani Mancotywa. It is the fourth year in a row that the winner has come from The Saxon Hotel. In October, Xolani will be travelling to Washington DC, USA, to compete in the International Jeunes Sommeliers Competition Final.
The sponsors of the competition were the Saxon Hotel, the SA Brandy Foundation and van Ryn’s Brandy. My fellow judges were Francis Krone, Vice-Échanson of Johannesburg, who won the National Final in 2010, Gareth Ferreira (the 2011 winner) and Jeff Lopes (the 2012 winner). My heartfelt thanks go to them all for their help, dedication and assistance in running the competition.

George Parkes, Échanson