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Sommeliers Australia appoints a new President.

The first Annual General Meeting of the official national association of Sommeliers Australia was held on Sunday 29th November 2009 at The Westin, Melbourne. After a co-Presidency of two years, which was occupied by the State association heads of New South Wales and Victoria, Ben Moechtar and Ben Edwards respectively, it was Ben Edwards that was elected the new President of Sommeliers Australia.

Sommeliers Australia is a not for profit hospitality industry organisation that began life in the early 1990s in Victoria and New South Wales as separate associations. In August 2007, the two associations merged to form a national body, renamed ‘Sommeliers Australia’. In 2009 Sommeliers Australia has extended Chapters to all States, and this Annual General Meeting was the first since the official establishment of the national body. Those present at the Annual General Meeting also appointed members who will take up roles on the National Executive, led by President Ben Edwards.

These individuals are:

> Ben Moechtar (NSW) > Franck Moreau (NSW) > Tim Stock (NSW) > Tony Venn (NSW)
> David Lawler (VIC) > Chris Crawford (VIC) > Dan Sims (VIC) > Peter Marchant (QLD)
> Ed Wolkowinski (WA) > Louise Radman (SA) > Joseph Burton (TAS)

The first meeting of the National Executive will be held in early 2010, and at this meeting a key agenda item will be to fill the remaining roles of Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer.

Ben Edwards was elated with the result. ”We’ve put in such a lot of work to take the association up a notch. The next phase is very exciting, and I was very keen to continue to drive the strategy with a committed team. It was actually quite a proud day to see all of our State Chapter representatives in the one room at this meeting. We’ve come such a long way, and this meeting was quite an important event in the history of our association,” noted Edwards.
The President’s Report and Minutes from the Annual General Meeting will be available for download at www.sommeliers.com.au shortly.

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Sommeliers Australia committee member aces the Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceanic competition.

After Sommeliers Australia’s recent acceptance as a member of the prestigious Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI), Sydney-based Sommelier Franck Moreau of Merivale Group (Sydney Australia) was awarded second place, at the inaugural Best Sommelier of Asia-Oceanic competition held in Osaka, Japan, on November 18, 2009.

Franck competed alongside David Lawler, Vice President of Sommeliers Australia and Head Sommelier of Rockpool Bar and Grill, Melbourne. Franck and David were selected by Sommeliers Australia as the best candidates to represent Australia in this formidable competition. The two were among twenty Sommeliers from ten different countries. In addition to the rigorous assessment process, all applicants needed to conduct the entire competition in a second language. Franck was able to compete in English as it his second language, and David chose French.

The competition comprised:

  • Fifty written questions
  • Two blind wine taste-tests (where each wine’s region, grape and suitable matching dishes were required)
  • Tasting of a dish (where each Sommelier had to select a wine to complement the food and provide a rationale for the choice)
  • Three blind spirit taste-tests (to be completed within three minutes)
  • A practical exam (opening and aerating a wine which was to be served to five people within four minutes).

After the semi final round there were just three candidates left standing – Saturo Mori and Nobuhiro Tani, both of La Tour d’Argent (Hotel New Otani, Tokyo, Japan) and our own Franck Moreau. In front of an audience of around 500 people, these three candidates had to face six practical scenarios:

  • Serving champagne promptly to two guests waiting for their friends
  • Recommending beverages to match the food from a set menu to four guests
  • Decanting and serving of a bottle of Chateau La Lagune 1985 to ten guests
  • Proofing a wine-list and correcting its errors
  • Blind-tasting of white, red, and dessert wine
  • Identifying five spirits and specifying the type and the brand.

Shinya Tasaki, chairman of the Technical Committee and Vice President of the ASI in charge of the competition noted, “The members whose nation or region an applicant Sommelier came from and participated in the contest could not be a judge of the assessment panel. Thus, the contest was truly fair. Any applicant could win. It was a close contest.”

And the placings were:

Winner: Satoru Mori (Japan)

Second: Franck Moreau (Australia)

Third: Nobuhiro Tani (Japan)

Franck, on top of receiving second place in the competition, also won the Sopexa Vin de France section of the competition, which involved thirty written questions on French wines and a blind-taste test, As a result, Moreau is now the official Ambassador for French Wine in Australia. Franck claimed that it was the hardest French test he had ever done.

The winner, Satoru Mori, is now entitled to represent Japan in Chile next April 2010 for the title of Best Sommelier of the World.

Sommeliers Australia Co-President Ben Edwards was elated with the win. “This is the very first time that Australian Sommeliers have competed in a competition of such prestige. The placing of Franck and David in the semi final, and Franck’s overall second placing, was beyond our wildest dreams. Not that we ever doubted the skill of these two impeccable Sommeliers! It confirmed our decision that both David and Franck were the best candidates for us to put forward,” noted Ben.

Sommeliers Australia Vice-President and competitor David Lawler said it was an incredible experience. “It was an amazing forum to be a part of. It was incredibly tough, and was truly a benchmark educational experience. I’m looking forward to taking learnings from this competition and applying it to the education process that Sommeliers Australia is continually evolving for our members,” said David.

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