Late last Saturday evening in Tallinn at the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix 2010, Kristjan Markii of Estonia was declared the Best Baltic Sommelier. Estonian Kristjan Peäske won second place and Jānis Kaļķis of Latvia came third.
“I have been waiting for the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix victory for a long time! This year was the fifth time that I competed in the final of the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix. My competitors were tough but very pleasant. I would like to thank everyone that supported me,” said the Best Baltic Sommelier Kristjan Markii.
The Best Baltic Sommelier Kristjan Markii was awarded a Vana Tallinn Grand Prix decanter and a wine tour of €1000 to a freely selected destination, awarded by AS Liviko. The second and third place winners were awarded a wine specialist’s book and a quality wine.
“The level of the competition was very high and the tasks were challenging from the first day, as they should be at an international competition. The winner stood out among his competitors for his professionalism, for being natural and emotional,” said the Chairman of the Jury Bruno Scavo, Board Member of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) from Monaco.
“I am very glad the victory came to Estonia once again. Kristjan Markii is definitely worthy of winning. He has competed in the final of the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix on several years, but now he won,” said Janek Kalvi, CEO of AS Liviko.
“The Vana Tallinn Grand Prix was launched four years ago, inspired by the wish to motivate and recognise talented sommeliers of the Baltic countries and to promote the alcohol culture,” said Janek Kalvi, CEO of AS Liviko.
“Selection of the Best Baltic Sommelier is the annual highlight for the sommeliers. This year’s event is even more special for the Estonian Sommelier Association, because the competition is held in Tallinn and it coincides with the 10th anniversary of the association,” said Kristel Nõmmik, President of the Estonian Sommelier Association.
The Estonian competitors for the title of the Best Baltic Sommelier were Kristjan Markii (restaurant Balthasar), Aivar Vipper (Tervis Grupp) and last year’s winner Kristjan Peäske (hotel Telegraaf).
The Vana Tallinn Grand Prix tested the participants’ theoretical knowledge and practical skills. On the first day, 22 October, the competitors had to provide written answers to 60 questions and blind taste two wines.
On Saturday, 23 October, four of the best competitors from the previous day – Jānis Kaļķis of Latvia, Arminas Darasevičius of Lithuania and Kristjan Markii and Kristjan Peäske of Estonia – competed in the final of the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix. They had to demonstrate various professional skills: blind tasting of wines and spirits; decanting, serving of red wine; recommending wines or spirits for a five-course dinner; serving of sparkling wine, and correcting mistakes in a wine list. They also had to answer a surprise question.
The 5th to 9th places competed in the speed and precision of pouring sparkling wine.
The Best Baltic Sommelier was selected by an international jury chaired by Bruno Scavo, Board Member of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) and former President of the Monaco Sommelier Association. The jury members were Urvo Ugandi (Liviko), former President of the Estonian Sommelier Association; Arunas Starkus, President of the Lithuanian Sommelier Association; Mārcis Mitrevics, Board Member of the Latvian Sommelier Association, and Aarne Pajula, wine journalist and member of the Estonian Sommelier Association.
The Latvian competitors for the title of the Best Baltic Sommelier were Diāna Kokarēviča (restaurant Jurmala), Jānis Kaļķis (hotel Jurmala SPA) and Kaspars Vēzītis (RSkorpions Ltd). The Lithuanian competitors for Vana Tallinn Grand Prix were Arminas Darasevičius (sommelier consultant for 10 Lithuanian restaurants), Narimantas Miežys (restaurant Saint Germain) and Redas Norkeliunas (restaurant Stikliai).
The competition was named after a cult product of Liviko, the Vana Tallinn liqueur. Liviko organises the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix in cooperation with the Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian Sommelier Associations. In 2006 the competition was held in Tallinn, in 2007 in Riga, in 2008 in Vilnius and in 2009 in Riga. Last year the Best Baltic Sommelier title was awarded to Kristjan Peäske (hotel Telegraaf).
Established in 1898, AS Liviko is a producer of quality alcohol. It has developed a distribution and wholesale network of alcohol in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and uses it for marketing its own production as well as imported brands of other quality alcohol producers from all over the world. In the Baltic countries, AS Liviko ranks among the three largest alcohol companies and pays attention equally to the production and import of alcoholic beverages. AS Liviko also holds 50% in a Japanese importer and distributor of alcoholic products. AS Liviko has 201 employees in Estonia, 97 in Latvia and 76 in Lithuania.