Young Wine Professionals Awards

Last Friday, at the Dorchester, surrounded by members of the UK branches of La Confrérie de la Chaîne de Rôtisseurs*, I witnessed awards given to three young chefs and four young sommeliers.

After a brilliant menu that included glazed miso turbot accompanied by a lemony Woodlands 2016 Chardonnay from Australia’s Margaret River; 60-day Himalayan salt-aged fillet of beef with Masi’s Passo Doble Malbec-Corvina 2016 from Mendoza, and, to finish, a classic Tarte Tatin washed down with Buitenverwachting's amber-gold 2015 Constantia Muscat whose richness balanced the apple’s acidity, the winners were announced.

For the Young Chef of the Year, the first prize went to Jordon Powell of South Lodge, the second to Ben Emmeson of Mosimann’s and the third to Ben Whyte of The Priory Hotel, Wareham. For the Young Sommelier Award, first and second went to two Londoners: Matteo Montone from Edition and Salvatore Castano from Mash; Paul Robineau from Moor Hall in Cheshire took third place. All three richly deserved their awards.

The next, most movingly, was the presentation of the newly created ‘Gerard Basset Tasting Trophy’ to Paul Flauvel of the Lanesborough Hotel, London. I had been fortunate enough to sit next to Nina Basset, Gerard’s widow, who presented this new prize in his memory.

Having been a judge of the Young Sommelier of the Year Competition for a decade now – which, until last year, was always master-minded by Gerard – I found this to be a fitting tribute to the great man. A memorial to everything he had done in the service of wine and wine appreciation throughout his life. For receiving the highest marks in the blind tasting and food matching sections of the Young Sommelier Award, the Gerard Basset Award was very well deserved by its first recipient. Steven Spurrier

*La Confrérie de la Chaîne de Rôtisseurs was founded in Paris in 1148 to promote “convivialite à table” and a high quality of ingredients and service. (According to Wikipedia this included preserving the practices of the old French Royal Guild of Goose Roasters, whose authority expanded to the roasting of all poultry, meat and game, as well as the promotion of gastronomic values and ‘table art’.)

Susan Keevil