British Columbia

B.C.'s best sommelier crowned in high-pressure competition

Also, check out Master of Wine Barbara Philip's picks for this week.

On The Coast Master of Wine Barbara Philip was a judge at the competition

Which wine is which? Any sommelier worth his or her salt needs to know. (Leon Brocard/Flickr)

How good are your Spidey Senses when it comes to wine?

A group of sommeliers put theirs to the test on Monday when the Canadian Association of Sommeliers and the Vancouver International Wine Festival held a contest to find the best sommelier in B.C.

The first part of the day consisted of a written exam and blind tasting from which the top three candidates went on to do a mock service test and tasting in front of a live audience.

The winner was Alistair Veen from Tap restaurant in South Surrey. On The Coast's Master of Wine Barbara Philip was one of the judges who awarded him the title.

"He's a chef and a sommelier and a really hard-working guy," Philip told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn. "He's been training with the former sommelier of the year, Jason Yamasaki who works at Chambar … boy, we are all so surprised and so happy for him."

And if you want to find out who the best sommelier is among your friends and family, Philip's recommendations this week are some of the benchmarks sommeliers are expected to be familiar with.

Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough. New Zealand. 2014. $22.49

"Fresh aromas of citrus, gooseberry, asparagus and pink grapefruit with a dry palate and succulent acidity. This is high quality and typical Marlborough Sauvignon — a welcome wine in any blind tasting lineup!"

Selbach Oster Riesling Spätlese. Zeltinger Schlossberg. Germany. 2013. $34.99

"A classic and scrumptious Riesling from the slate slopes of the Mosel. Lime, white flowers, wet stone, juicy apple flavours and moderate sweetness are balanced by racy acidity and a long finish. Try with Thai yellow curry with chicken."

Maison de Bulliats Regnié. Beaujolais. France. 2014. $19.49

"This wine is a perfect winter aperitif with charcuterie and cheese. It is medium-bodied with red fruit — cherry and strawberry — aromas and a lovely spiciness on the palate."

Musella Valpolicella Ripasso. Veneto. Italy. 2012. $28.99

"'Ripasso' is one of the most popular styles of Italian wine right now for its full body and distinct flavours of rich, dried fruit. The wine has been re-fermented on Amarone skins to bring it added depth and concentration. The Musella is particularly complex, long and delicious."

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Contest answers age-old question: who is B.C.'s best sommelier?


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