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Guild of Sommeliers Announces the Country's Two Top Sommeliers of 2011
August 09, 2011
Ian Cauble rises to the top as the TOP|SOMM champion and Desmond Echavarrie prevails in the Top New Somm contest
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Sunday, a dozen of the best sommeliers from around the country gathered at the Sir Francis Drake hotel in San Francisco, California to compete in the illustrious TOP|SOMM and Top New Somm competitions. Hosted by the Guild of Sommeliers, the contestants were forced to prove their mettle in the areas of wine theory, beverage service and tasting ability. After months of competitions at the local, regional and now national level, only two were left standing: Ian Cauble took home the title of TOP|SOMM and Desmond Echavarrie was named the country’s Top New Somm.
“This has been an incredible experience,” noted Ian Cauble, who competed in the finals for the second year in a row. “Between my fellow competitors and the Master Sommeliers who have worked with us throughout this process, it truly is an amazing group of people. I am humbled and overjoyed to have won this competition amidst so many extraordinary sommeliers.” Cauble, who is the sommelier at The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California, also takes home the Robert Mondavi Trophy that is awarded to the TOP|SOMM champion.
Judged by an impressive panel of Master Sommeliers, both competitions are modeled after the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Advanced Exam, with the only difference being that Top New Somm is reserved for sommeliers who are under 30 years of age. To reach this stage of the competition, these sommeliers had to outscore their fellow sommeliers on an intensely difficult examination administered at the local level and then best their counterparts at a similar three-part regional examination. Surpassing nearly two-hundred competitors along the way, all twelve finalists truly represent the cream of the crop. Remarkably, four of last year’s finalists went on to earn their Master Sommelier diploma, and all four participated as judges in yesterday’s competition.
“As a current Master Sommelier candidate, I have been intensely preparing for this competition for months. Yet, winning was completely unexpected when I consider the caliber of the other sommeliers I was up against,” said Desmond Echavarrie. Further emphasizing the camaraderie of the competition, he remarked, “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who wins or loses; we’re all friends.” Echavarrie, who is currently a sommelier at The French Laundry in Yountville, California, was presented with the Southern Wine and Spirits Championship Trophy and will receive a scholarship to continue his wine education with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
“This competition is only in its second year, and already we’ve seen an outstandingly high caliber of young contestants,” noted Master Frederick Dame, President of the Guild of Sommeliers. “Both Ian and Desi are on their way to being leaders in this industry, and I am proud that the Guild of Sommeliers has played a significant part in their wine education. I look forward to seeing the impact they will make in the years to come.”
The complete line-up of 2011 TOP|SOMM Finalists included: Ian Cauble, Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay (Half Moon Bay, CA); Chris Dillman, Giant Eagle Market District (Columbus, OH); Ryan Fletter, Barolo Grill (Denver, CO); Mariya Kovacheva, Café Boulud (Palm Beach, FL); James Lechner, Bastille Café and Wine Bar (Seattle, WA); and Michael Meagher, Treasury Wine Estates (Boston, MA).
The complete line-up of 2011 Top New Somm Finalists included: Christopher Bates, Hotel Fauchère (Milford, PA); Desmond Echavarrie, The French Laundry (Yountville, CA); Roland Micu, La Toque (Napa, CA); Emily Papach, The Farmhouse Inn (Forestville, CA); Kevin Reilly, Cyrus (Healdsburg, CA); and Jaclyn Stuart, Margaux Bistro and Wine Bar (Sheboygan, WI).