The 9th edition of the Indian Sommelier Championship concluded on the 16th of October with a gala dinner at the Pullman Aerocity New Delhi. The preparations for this year started last year, both for the organisers as also for the participants, in an effort to make the competition more intense, tougher, and more legit. Gagan Sharma gives us the low down…
For the first time, the results were audited by an outside firm to further substantiate the veracity and validity of the results. Winning on this stage is no small feat and the organisers had to ensure that talent and skill were the only merit that earned someone their rightful reward.
Three days of classes were held at the regal Sofitel Hotel in BKC, Mumbai and the Pullman Aerocity New Delhi before the ten finalists were chosen to perform in front of the jury. The jury this year comprised: Isabel LOMENIE, Winemaker from Barsac and head of the wine committee at The Pullman Aerocity; Laurent GIRAUD, Ex-restaurateur and Head of F&B Faculty at Ansal University; Sumedh MANDLA, F&B stalwart and current head of Grover-Zampa Vineyards; Yangdup LAMA, Beverage specialist and owner of Speakeasy: Cocktails & Dreams bar.
The candidates had the following tasks laid out for them: The top ten battled it out through the various rounds
- Decanting and serving still wine
- Opening and serving sparkling wine
- Blind tasting and commenting on a still wine
- Blind tasting and commenting on a sparkling wine
- Pouring the perfect pint
- Blind tasting and commenting on a beer
- Blind tasting and commenting on a cocktail
- Food & wine pairing
- Judges’ Viva including a question on the Indian Wine industry
A total of 20 minutes were allowed to complete all these tasks.
Finally, after all was done, the awards were audited by an accountancy firm who then signed on the results. These were then announced during a black tie gala at the Peacock Ballroom of the Pullman Aerocity New Delhi (the dress code was Black, White & Peacock) which was attended by over 100 of the industry stalwarts and media.
The winners this year were:
- Austrian Wine + Marketing Board Winner – Pratik Angre, Taj Santa Cruz, Mumbai
- Aspri Spirits 1st Runner Up – Sachhin Khhavle, Four Seasons, Mumbai
- Grover Zampa 2nd Runner Up – Ravi Batra, The Leela Palace, New Delhi
- Fratelli Vineyards Best Service Flair – Sachhin Khhavle, Four Seasons, Mumbai
- KRSMA Estates Best Tasting Skills – Pratik Angre, Taj Santa Cruz, Mumbai
- Pullman Hotels Sparkling Wine Round Winner – Pratik Angre, Taj Santa Cruz, Mumbai
- York Vineyards Indian Round Winner – Ravi Batra, The Leela Palace, New Delhi
- Monin Cocktail Round Winner – Sachhin Khhavle, Four Seasons, Mumbai
- BIRA Beer Round Winner – Ravi Batra, The Leela Palace, New Delhi
- Schott Zweisel Food & Wine Pairing Round Winner – Sachhin Khhavle, Four Seasons, Mumbai
A special inclusion this year, a first for the ISC, was the introduction of “The Lynchpin”, a small way of saying thank you to the people that we believe have been instrumental in shaping the industry. This year the competition chose to honour Reva K SINGH of Sommelier India magazine and Sanjay MENON of Sonarys wine imports, both of whom have been a pivotal part of the Indian wine industry since its early days.
We are passionate towards purveying the cause of wines (and most pertinently, Indian wines). We sincerely believe in the potential of our people on both sides of the trade. The ISC was conceived as a platform to promote this sentiment and thus we will always aim at pushing the limits of both the championship and the champions. — Gagan Sharma