This year’s Moët Best Sommelier competition in South Africa has been won by Jo Wessels, who will go on to represent the country at the ASI Best Sommelier of the World Championships in Belgium in 2019. The Bloemfontein-born sommelier is currently based in Germany where he is completing a course in International Wine Business at HGU (Hochschule Geisenheim University). He is also enrolled at DWS (German Wine and Sommelier School) completing his WSET Diploma and works part-time as a Commis Sommelier at Michelin stared ENTE Restaurant in Wiesbade.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the sommelier profession is not only growing but also advancing in South Africa,” says Higgo Jacobs, Founding Member and President of the South African Sommeliers Association (SASA) who run the Moët Best Sommelier competition. “This is only the second time that we are staging our national contest with the support of Moët & Chandon after the first one in 2016, and already we have a pool of semi-finalists of great calibre with plenty of candidates that could have taken the title. Standards have been incredibly high this year.”
The competition included three rounds of tests, where Jo and runners-up Jean Vincent Ridon of France and Joakim Blackadder of Sweden were judged by an expert panel on their ability to taste and Identify spirits as well as standard service tasks and theory.
The judges included:
- Higgo Jacobs: Founding Member and President of the South African Sommeliers Association
- Neil Grant: Co-founder and owner of Burrata and Bocca restaurants, former president, SASA
- William Wouters: Vice President – Europe for the ‘Association de la Sommellerie Internationale’ (International Association of Sommeliers)
- Malika Van Reenen – Executive Chef, Cape Grace Hotel
*Pictured are Patrick Leslie, Moet Hennessy Champagne Portfolio Manager, winner Jo Wessels and South African Sommeliers Association President Higgo Jacobs