Mirco Tarducci of the Galaxy Macau’s 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA has been crowned the winner of the 2019 Ruinart Sommelier Challenge, after competing with over 30 sommeliers in Hong Kong and Macau in champagne blind-tasting challenges.
The Ruinart Sommelier Challenge is a competition designed to test the participants’ knowledge of country of origin, vintage, variety, pairings, serving temperature, and ageability of different champagnes. The participants go through a 40-minute written blind tasting, and the winner of the challenge will be invited to Champagne for a 4-day educational trip, joining 14 other winners from around the world.
Tarducci said he was honored to have won the challenge, and that the level of his fellow competitors was overall extremely high.
“All the contestants competing in HK are highly competitive–they are all sommeliers from the top-rank restaurants and groups. You have to keep your focus and not be intimidated,” he said.
Held on 16 May at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong, this year’s blind-tasting competition featured Sauvignon Blanc.
Four wines were included in the test, including the Domaine Vincent Pinard Sancerre Cuvee Flores 2017; Dog Point Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc 2015; the 2015 Didier Dagueneau Sancerre “Le Mont Damne; and Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2018.
Tarducci was impressed with the evenness of the wine selection, singling out the symmetry between Old World and New World tastes.
“The wines were very balanced. This is very important to me for wine, the freshness, acidity, and the mineral and fruitfulness, in balance with each other and creating a great wine to drink, and can age for a long time. I think the selection was good, it was showcasing what we called New World and Old World wines, and that they chose the right styles of different regions.”
The judging panel comprised of Leo Au, chief sommelier of Café Gray Deluxe at The Upper House; Frederic Panaiotis, Chef de Caves of Ruinart; and Claudio Salgado, senior director of design development for Asia-Pacific at Marriott International.
The competition was followed by a science and tasting masterclass hosted by Panaïotis, who talked about the effect of the variety thiols in wine.
The Ruinart Sommelier Challenge made its debut in 2014. This year’s challenge is their 6th competition overall. Winners will participate in various activities such as private tours of Ruinart’s historic Crayères wine cellar, unique tasting sessions, exploration of regional delicacies, and a visit to a CIVC experimental vineyard in the region.