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Jeunes Sommeliers Competition
The Report

International JS Final 2017 - Budapest, Sept. 29-30, 2017

Piotr Pietras wins the 2017 International Final for Great Britain!

Hungary has a long tradition of winemaking making it an ideal location for hosting a final of the Chaîne’s prestigious competition.

Hungarian wine has a history dating back to Roman times. After the Ottoman Empire ceded Hungary to Austria in 1699, influence was felt with the introduction of Germanic grape varieties. That influence was evident in 1730 with the start of the world’s first vineyard classification in Tokaj. Since 1989 there has been renewed interest in traditional varieties and considerable new investment, particularly in Tokaj. Today, Hungarian winemakers use all sorts of exciting, unusual grape varieties to make their wines.

To soak up this history and see first-hand the modern day developments, on the day before the competition the young sommeliers were taken to Tokaj for an educational tour. The programme for the day commenced with a tasting of the wonderful wines produced by István Szepsy. After visits to Dorgo and Birsalmas vineyards and an informal lunch, a fantastic time was spent at Disznókő Estate – part of the AXA Millésimes group. After such an experience, everyone agreed with that Tokaji Aszú is the “Wine of Kings, King of Wines”.*

On Friday, September 29th, competitors, judges and committee gathered at a very early hour at the Academy Club in the exclusive premises of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences situated in the heart of down-town Budapest.

After a photo shoot, the preliminary round of the competition, comprising theory, practical and blind tasting elements, selected the best three competitors who would progress to the Final. There were 14 Bailliages represented: Australia, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the USA. Mexico and Thailand were competing for the first time since the International Competition started in 2007.

Saturday morning came the announcement by the judges that it would be Australia’s Mikael Grou, Great Britain’s Piotr Pietras and Vincent Morrow from the USA who would participate in the Final which, as is now the custom, was open to members and guests wishing to watch the event.

The tension was perceptible as the three finalists gave of their best in the face of the formidable judging panel. The young competitors were outstanding before an audience totally engrossed in the proceedings.

At the Awards Ceremony during the Bailliage of Hungary’s Grand Chapitre Gala Evening, the results were announced as follows

  • Winner: Great Britain - Piotr Pietras (Launceston Place, London)
  • Runner-up: Australia - Mikael Grou (Sails Restaurant, Noosa Head, Queensland)
  • Third Place: USA - Vincent Morrow (GuildSomm Inc, Petaluma, California)

Piotr received the Competition’s Gold Medal, an engraved silver-plated tray, a Champagne sabre and a six‐litre ‘Imperial’ bottle of Irvine Grand Merlot. Runner-up Mikael was presented with the Competition’s Silver Medal, an engraved silver‐plated tray, a Wempe Zeitmeister wristwatch and a magnum of Törley Hungarian sparkling wine. Third Placed Vincent received the Bronze Medal, an engraved tray and a magnum of Törley Hungarian sparkling wine. All the other competitors were presented with a small commemorative tray and a 50cl bottle of Tokaji Aszú.

The Bailliage of Hungary led by Bailli Délégué Iván Novák had certainly risen to the challenge of staging a wonderful competition programme. Bailliage officers, helpers, international and local sponsors, and of course the panel of judges and members of the Competition Committee, all contributed to the success of the event.

Last but not least, thanks are very much due to Reka Földi for taking the excellent photographs.

Marie Jones

International Vice President

Member of the International Jeunes Sommeliers Competition Committee

*Tokaji was served at the French Royal court at Versailles where it became known as Tokay. Delighted with the precious beverage King Louis XV of France offered a glass to Madame de Pompadour referring to it as “Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum” (“Wine of Kings, King of Wines”).

The competitors

Australia - Mikael Grou (Sails Restaurant, Noosa Head, Queensland)
Finland - Saara Alander (Ravintola Muru, Helsinki)
Germany - Maximilian Wilm (Hotel-Restaurant Süllberg, Hamburg)
Great Britain - Piotr Pietras (Launceston Place, London)
Hungary - Mátyás Szik (Four Seasons Hotel, Budapest)
Korea - Kyung Min Seok (Jungsik, Seoul)
Mexico - Miguel Maldonado (Bodegas Enate, Mexico City)
Norway - Henrik Jahnsen (Bølgen & Moi Ny-Hellesund, Søgne)
Russia - Ruslan Devetiarov (Restaurant Symposium, Saint Petersburg)
South Africa - Anton Visser (Leeu Collection, Franschhoek)
Taiwan - Lu Kai-Wen “Kevin” (Marriott Hotel, Taipei)
Thailand - Phanwadee Manusphaibool (L’atelier de Joël Robuchon, Bangkok)
Turkey - Baris Üzüm (Şans Restaurant, Istanbul)
USA - Vincent Morrow (GuildSomm Inc, Petaluma, California)

Jeunes Sommeliers Competition Committee

Grand Argentier Joseph M Girard (Chair)
Klaus Tritschler, Member of the Conseil d’Administration
Marie Jones, International Vice-President

Panel of Judges

Brian Julyan MS, Officier Maître Sommelier (Chair)
Bryan Dawes MS, Officier Maître Sommelier
Ronan Sayburn MS, Maître Sommelier
Ronn Wiegand MW, MS, Échanson of Hungary