Japanese Hiroshi Ishida crowned Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceania 2015

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Japanese sommelier Hiroshi Ishida has triumphed in the finals of the Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceania competition.

Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceania competition winner Ishida HiroshiImage: Ishida Hiroshi (middle) winning the Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceania competition © Decanter/Sally Cheng

The competition, held during the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (HKTDC) International Wine Show, saw 18 contestants from 10 countries and regions compete in front of an international panel of judges chaired by Gerrard Basset OBE, MS, MW – winner of Best Sommelier of the World in 2010.

Hiroshi Ishida, sommelier of Souplesse in Yokohama, Japan, and judge of Decanter Asia Wine Awards, came third at the Best Sommelier in the World competition in 2000.

As the winner of this year’s Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceania Competition, he will represent Asia & Oceania region again in the world competition, which will take place in Mendoza, Argentina in 2016.

The other two finalists, Wallace Lo, head sommelier at le Comptoir Group, Hong Kong, and Banjo Havis-Plane, chef sommelier of Attica Restaurant in Ripponlea, Australia, contended with Ishida in several sections at the final round including blind tasting, practical service, wine knowledge test and pouring competition.

‘The whole competition was very much like a dream as I never expected to have been able to come as far as I have,’ Wallace Lo told DecanterChina.com after winning the silver medal.

The mainland Chinese contestant LU Yang failed to reach the final.

But, Nelson Chow, vice president of the Asia-Oceania Best Sommelier competition, said he never expected that the two Chinese candidates would do as well as they did.

LU Yang is corporate wine director at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts and took the crown in the 2014 Best Sommelier Greater China competition.

Apart from Gerrard Basset MS MW, previous winners of the Best Sommelier of the World include Andreas Larsson (2007), Serge Dubs (1989) and Shinya Tasaki (1995), who also appeared on the judging committee of last week’s competition.

Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceania competition silver medal Wallace LoImage: Wallace Lo (left) and Banjo Havis-Plane (right) at Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceania competition finals © Decanter/Sally Cheng

The grand finals of the Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceania competition:

• A blind tasting of 2 wines and 6 spirits/apéritif

• The ‘practical’ service which covered going to 3 tables of guests (each headed by one of the judges).

One table to discuss pairings with dim sum, The next to open a bottle white wine, the last table to decant and serve a bottle of red wine, all in a set time limit.

• Wine ‘knowledge’ which had a series of pages from a wine list shown to the candidates who then had to identify the errors (if any)

• A pouring competition where each of the finalists had a magnum of champagne and were told to pour an equal amount into 18 glasses without returning to top up a glass once he had started to fill the next. This was also an opportunity in observation skills as there were 19 glasses, not 18 on each table.

(Edited by Nina Fan Feng)

Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦

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