Late Saturday night at the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix 2009 competition in Riga, the Estonian competitor Kristjan Peäske was awarded the title of the best sommelier of the Baltic countries, followed by another Estonian competitor, Kristjan Markii, and the Latvian Jānis Kaļķis. The winner of the competition was the guest participant Sören Polonius from Sweden. “This is the second year that I participate in the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix. I am amazed and very happy with my result. The competition was tough, but the result inspires me to continue and learn more about wines, because the more you know the more you want to know about them,” said the best Baltic sommelier Kristjan Peäske.
The best sommelier of the Baltic states Kristjan Peäske was awarded a Vana Tallinn Grand Prix decanter and a € 1000 wine tour from AS Liviko. The winner will be able to choose the destination of the tour.
“After a gap of two years the best Baltic sommelier is again from Estonia and I am proud to award the title to my fellow countryman. The Vana Tallinn Grand Prix has become a good tradition and an anticipated event among sommeliers. Liviko as a Baltic operation considers it important to support the Baltic sommeliers and we will certainly continue the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix,” said Janek Kalvi, Director of AS Liviko.
“It was a happy day for me and the luck was on my side! Naturally I wanted to win, but my competitors were very professional. I am excitedly looking forward to the world’s best sommelier competition,” said Sören Polonius, winner of the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix 2009 from Sweden.
“The Baltic participants are becoming more professional with every year, especially their serving skills and working standards. On the first day the participants had to give written answers to difficult questions, all the more so because the questions were in English,” said Anne-Marie Foidl, President of the Austrian Sommeliers Association and head of the jury for Vana Tallinn Grand Prix 2009.
The Baltic Sommelier Vana Tallinn Grand Prix contest was initiated by the Estonian alcohol producer Liviko, who is one of the three largest alcohol companies in the Baltic countries, with the aim of advancing the culture of alcohol consumption in the Baltic states. It has become a prestigious event that stimulates sommeliers in the Baltic countries to constantly improve their professionalism.
On the opening day of the contest, Friday, 23 October, contestants answered a test of 60 questions, followed by blind degustation, decanting and serving of red wine. The best four contestants qualified for the final competition.
Contestants for the title of the best sommelier had to demonstrate both knowledge of theory and practical skills. In the final competition on Saturday, 24 October, the finalists competed in four categories: at blind-tasting of wines and spirits, decanting and serving a bottle of red wine; recommending wines for a five-course dinner; and finding errors in an inaccurately filled wine list and correcting it.
The Baltic Sommelier Vana Tallinn Grand Prix contest is organised on the initiative of AS Liviko in cooperation with the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Sommelier Associations. In 2006 the contest was held in Tallinn, in 2007 in Riga and in 2008 in Vilnius. Last year’s winner was the Latvian sommelier Raimonds Tomsons from the restaurant Vincents.
The Estonian participants were Kristjan Markii (restaurant Balthasar), Kristjan Peäske (Hotel Telegraaf) and Aivar Vipper (Tallink Spa & Conference Hotel). Latvia was represented by Jānis Kaļķis (Hotel Jurmala SPA), Aleksejs Tatarinovs (French wine Gallery “LUIS”) and Raimonds Tomsons (restaurant Vincents). The Lithuanian competitors were Gintaras Jakuntavičius (UAB “Senamiesčio mitas” Steak House Helios restaurant), Arminas Darasevičius (“Vyno klubas“) and Narimantas Miežys (Saint Germain Restaurant). Sweden was represented by Sören Polonius (Group F12).
The best Baltic sommelier was selected by an international jury, chaired this year by Mrs Anne-Marie Foidl, President of the Austrian Sommeliers Association.