BEST SOMMELIER OF THE WORLD
ASI CONTEST PARIS 2023: A WEEK DEDICATED TO COGNAC
The BNIC and 12 Cognac houses (Hennessy, Martell, Rémy Martin, ABK6, Ansac, Delamain, De Luze, Distillerie des Moisans – Deau, Ferrand, Frapin, Grand Marnier, Hine and Jules Gautret) partnered up for the 2023 edition of the prestigious Best Sommelier of the World contest in Paris, which crowned Latvian candidate, Raimonds Tomsons, the winner. The Cognac sector showcased its diversity and team spirit to an audience of sommeliers and chefs from France and around the world during an intense week of competition. From masterclasses to tastings and meetings, the contest highlighted the important role Cognac plays in French sommellerie.
COGNAC-BASED COCKTAILS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
68 sommeliers from around the world competed in incredibly demanding challenges ranging from serving practices to tastings and Cognac and food pairings. In the semi-final, they mentioned Cognac as a key ingredient in the famous “Sazerac” cocktail. This is a wonderful illustration of Cognac’s versatility, a trait which is contributing to the growth of the sector while attracting a new generation of consumers. Whether served neat, in long drinks, or in cocktails, the many ways of tasting Cognac were presented throughout the Competition at the sommelier bar. This provided the opportunity for the candidates and delegations to share an enjoyable moment and learn more about Cognac thanks to discussions with representatives of the various houses.
AN INFINITE ARRAY OF COGNAC & FOOD PAIRINGS
Cognac also took centre stage when it was paired beautifully with dishes at the delegation dinners. Pairings included Cognac Rémy Martin Tercet with a refreshing crab-based seafood dish, Cognac Hennessy X.O with smoked meats, and Cognac Martell Cordon Bleu with roast pineapple. On Thursday, 9 February, the 17 semi-finalists were announced at Paris City Hall where Cognac was showcased in food pairings. This represented another occasion for sommeliers from around the world to (re)discover Cognac’s incredible potential as an accompaniment.
The diversity of Cognac categories and different serving temperatures allow for endless pairing possibilities. The sommeliers strived to outdo each other, as shown by their favorite pairings: chocolate mousse for Salvatore Castano (Best Sommelier of Europe in 2021), a hard cheese or a tarte tatin for Paolo Saccone (Best Sommelier of Australia in 2021), or, for a more audacious pairing, with oysters for Mason Ng (Best Sommelier of Asia and Oceania in 2022).
SHOWCASING THE DIVERSITY OF COGNAC
Throughout the competition, the BNIC and nine partner Cognac houses (ABK6, Ansac, Delamain, De Luze, Distillerie des Moisans – Deau, Ferrand, Frapin, Grand Marnier, Hine and Jules Gautret) led Cognac tastings at the sommelier bar to showcase all the diversity of the appellation, both in terms of Cognac profiles and ways of serving and tasting Cognac, both neat and in cocktails. To develop their knowledge of spirits, over 200 sommeliers, including competing candidates, attended the masterclass “Behind the scene: Cognac from the grape to the glass”, co-led by the BNIC and representatives of the Hennessy, Martell and Rémy Martin Cognac houses. This led to wonderful discoveries for all of the sommeliers, who were eager to learn more about the unique characteristics and diversity offered by Cognac.
At the closing gala dinner attended by 1,000 guests, a bottle of Cognac from one of the 12 partner Cognac houses adorned each table. It was the perfect way to end this prestigious competition, with the diversity of the Cognac appellation firmly in the spotlight.
ABOUT THE BNIC
The BNIC, or Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac, represents, develops and preserves the Cognac AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée), both in France and abroad.
In the 150+ countries where Cognac is sold, this Geographical Indication provides consumers with a guarantee that they are buying an outstanding wine spirit. Comprising an equal number of members from the winegrowing and commercial sides of the industry, the BNIC is a coordination and decision-making body which brings together almost 4,300 winegrowers and grower-distillers, 120 professional distillers, and 265 merchants operating within the appellation.
The BNIC defends the interests of Cognac producers and consumers, with an unwavering commitment to everyone with an interest in this appellation.