Posts Tagged ‘Best Sommelier’

Days of Wine and Poseurs

Monday, May 9th, 2011

GQ Magazine, April 29th 2011, by Alan Richman

GQ’s Alan Richman competes in the 2011 Best Sommelier in America contest—and lives to tell about it.

“I came close. Very close.  – Not to winning the Best Sommelier in America 2011 contest.”

To becoming a legend among sommeliers by setting fire to my $3000 Zegna Su Misura suit during the decanting portion of the competition. Decanting includes holding a bottle above a lit candle, which is playing with fire for someone like me.

2011 Best Sommelier in America contestJust in time, Aldo Sohm, one of the organizers, raced in from the sidelines and lifted my arm from the flame. Actually, I wouldn’t have been the first to add conflagration to my credentials. A judge, Roger Dagorn, told me about a long-ago competitor, a former sommelier at Restaurant Daniel in New York, who carelessly allowed the wicker basket holding his wine to become engulfed in flames.

I entered the two-day contest, hosted by American Sommelier and held earlier this month in New York, with dual status. I was not quite a participant and by no means a challenger for the title. I was permitted to take the same tests as the 29 genuine entrants, and I was given a bye into the second-day finals, usually limited to those who have placed in the top four on day one. For me, it meant an opportunity to get an insider’s look at an arcane profession that is rapidly gaining popularity even as mass-market interest in the ceremony and formality of fine dining decreases.

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The Celebrity Sommelier

Monday, May 9th, 2011

The Wall Street Journal, April 22nd 2011, by Jay McInerney

A couple of decades after the rise of the celebrity chef, we may be on the verge of a new phenomenon: the celebrity sommelier.  In the wake of Emeril Lagasse cookware and Mario Battali tomato sauce, we now have stemware and a corkscrew designed by Aldo Sohm, the sommelier at Le Bernardin, New York’s Michelin three star seafood eatery.

The Austrian born Sohm came to New York in 2004 after serving in some of Austria’s top restaurants and started off as wine director at Wallse, Kurt Guttenbrunner’s West Village Austrian restaurant.

In 2006, New York magazine voted him “Best Sommelier in New York.” The following year he moved to Le Bernardin and won the title of  “Best Sommelier in America,” a feat which he topped in 2008 when he was named “Best Sommelier in the World,” by the Worldwide Sommelier Association, after a grueling competition which included blind tastings, a written exam, and mock table service.

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ASA Best Sommelier in America 2011. And the winner is…

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011, April 20th 2011, by Aldo Sohm

…Alexander LaPratt, of New York’s db Bistro Moderne, won the coveted title on Sunday night. It was a close competition. 30 candidates competed for the title of Best Sommelier in America, including my apprentice sommelier at Le Bernardin, Jared Fischer who reached the final four alongside LaPratt, Christopher Bates of the Hotel Fauchere in Milford, Pennsylvania and Michael Meagher of Treasury Wine Estates in Waltham, Massachusetts who were all put through thier paces via rigorous tests and obstacles including: food and wine pairings, a blind spirits tasting, cigar service test, navigating a ‘mock dining room’ as well as a written exam.

It was an honor to judge the awards alongside Andrew Bell, co-founder of ASA, Rajat Parr, wine director of Mina Group and Andre Compeyre, Chief Sommelier of Ardour Alain Ducasse. To add to what was a wonderful and exciting weekend of judging, Le Bernardin was presented with the ASA’s inagural Art of Service Award for embracing the importance of impeccable service and providing the highest-quality dining and wine experience. The award honors an establishment that provides a platform for trained sommeliers to exercise their craft.

Thank you to all at the ASA for a great weekend and evening and congratulations to Alexander!

Best Sommelier in America is Named

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Wine Enthusiast Magazine, April 18th 2011, by Kara Newman

Alexander LaPratt, of New York’s db Bistro Moderne, won the title of “Best Sommelier in America” on Sunday night in a competition hosted by the American Sommelier Association, an organization dedicated to wine education and the sommelier industry in America.

LaPratt competed against 30 candidates from 12 states in a grueling two-day competition held at the Jumeirah Essex House hotel in New York. While all the competitors completed a blind tasting test and a written exam, four finalists—LaPratt, Christopher Bates of the Hotel Fauchere in Milford, Pennsylvania, Jared Fischer of Le Bernardin in New York and Michael Meagher of Treasury Wine Estates in Waltham, Massachusetts—ran an additional gauntlet.

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Aldo Sohm chosen as a Judge

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Aldo Sohm has been chosen by the American Sommelier Association as a Judge for the 6th annual Best Sommelier in America competition being held in New York City on April 16th & 17th.

“I am honored and excited to be chosen by the American Sommelier Association to be a judge at this year’s Best Sommelier in America Competition. As a former competitor and winner, I know how tough this competition is but also what it means as a sommelier to compete in such a highly regarded event. As part of the judging criteria, a series of exams are set to test different skills including service, food & wine pairing, depth of knowledge of wine as well as other proficiencies.

The results of the competition are announced at the Awards Gala on Sunday, April 17th. This year is an extra special year for me as not only have I been asked to judge the BSIA, Le Bernardin, where I am Chef Sommelier, is being honored with the Art of Service Award – a testament to the high standards of service and fine dining experience embraced and maintained by the restaurant for the past 25 years.”

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malbec….with fish?

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Wine & Spirits, June 2009, by Joshua Greene

Aldo Sohm holds the 2008 title as the Best Sommelier in the World. And he’s just been nominated for the Best Wine Service Award from the James Beard Foundation. He’s also one of the most cheerful sommeliers you’re likely to meet, an Austrian heading up the wine service at New York’s bastion of French seafood, Le Bernardin.

Recently, Sohm returned from Mendoza, Argentina, where he had conducted a seminar on malbec at the Maters of Food & Wine, South America. W&S caught up with Sohm to talk malbec, the red wine that had all the sommelier buzz in our 20th Annual Restaurant Poll, and one that’s gaining a place on Le Bernardin’s list.


Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Slashfood, May 2009, by Pervaiz Shallwani

In just two years as the sommelier and wine director at New York’s world-renowned Le Bernardin restaurant, 37-year-old Aldo Sohm has become a wine world heavyweight, having been recognized as “Best Sommelier” in the World” in 2008 and earlier this month for “Best Wine Service” at the James Beard Awards. Trained in his native Austria, Sohm came to the United States to improve on his then “dumpy” English so he could better compete at wine competitions. We caught up with Sohm this morning to chat about the unwritten rule of pairing fish with white wine, which vino goes well with grilled salmon and that other reason why he now lives in America.

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Sommelier Talk: Aldo Sohm

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Wine Spectator, October 2008, by Tanya Roqueta

In his spare time, the sommelier at Best of Award of Excellence-winning Le Bernardin is the “Best Sommelier in the World”.

Aldo Sohm, 37, is the wine director of New York restaurant Le Bernardin, which holds a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence for its wine list.

Sohm attended tourism school in his native Austria before working at Tirol restaurants Alberg Hopiz and Bio Hotel Stanglwirt. In 1999, Sohm became exposed to sommelier competition culture through a friend, and began preparing himself to compete. He has since won the titles of “Best Sommelier in Austria” at the 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 Austrian competitions.

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Tips From the Top Sommelier

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Bloomberg Markets, October 2008, by Elin McCoy

Le Bernardin’s Aldo Sohm reveals how to get the most from a restaurant wine experience and tells how he earned the title “World’s Best”.

While Jogging around Manhattan’s Uper West Side one weekend, Aldo Sohm dreamed up an unusual food-and–wine pairing: the little-known Domaine de Montbourgeau Savignin l’Ètoile vin jaune from France’s Jura region with a tangy French blue cheese, Fourme d’Abert.

The wine’s high acidity would break the sharpness of the cheese, he decided. When he tried it later, it worked.

Matching food and wine is always on Sohm’s mind. And what else would you expect from the Best Sommelier in the World? The Worldwide Sommelier Association gave him that title on May 24 at La Pergola, the three-Michelin-star restaurant in the Rome Cavalieri Hilton, after a grueling two-day competition.