At Vana Tallinn Baltic Sommelier Grand Prix, Aleksei Pogrebnoi from Estonia was announced as the best sommelier in the Baltic States. Mikk Parre from Estonia came a commendable second, and Yan Biazruchka from Lithuania placed third in a spectacular and highly competitive final. The title of young sommelier was awarded to Anna Elisa Vokk from Estonia.
“This is my first win in a sommelier competition – unbelievable and a big, big surprise! Winning such a big competition is especially gratifying. The whole competition was exciting, and the final was particularly challenging, but I gave my best at every stage. I also dedicated my time to preparing and studying. I am very grateful to Mikk Parre, who came second in the competition and who has been my study partner, supporter and a great source of encouragement throughout my journey as a sommelier. Participating in the Estonian championship also provided me with great impetus for success in the competition to be the best in the Baltics – I learned a lot from this experience. I’ve recently also tested my skills in Latvian and Lithuanian sommelier competitions, where I also gained valuable experience,” said Alexei Pogrebnoi, who was crowned the best sommelier in the Baltics on Saturday.
“The level of the competitors can be summed up in two words – very high! In the gripping finale, especially the restaurant task, the sommeliers’ skills, attention to detail and mental strength were put to the test. Particular standouts from the competition were the exceptional organisation and the diversity of tasks created to challenge the competitors. Even if they did not reach the final, each contestant had to perform a broad range of tasks – in itself valuable experience both for work and future competitions,” said Raimonds Tomsons, the chairman of the international jury, who holds the title of the world’s best sommelier. Tomsons has won the A.S.I. Best Sommelier of the World 2023, A.S.I. Best Sommelier of Europe & Africa 2017 and a few years earlier the Vana Tallinn Baltic Sommelier Grand Prix.
The jury included renowned sommeliers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, France and Greece.
Sommeliers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania competed to be crowned the best, with guest competitors from Poland, Ukraine and Greece. A space was also given to one outstanding young sommelier from each Baltic country.
In the preliminary round, the contestants had to demonstrate their professional knowledge in a written test and perform several surprise practical tasks. This year, the tasks included blind tasting and making cocktails.
In the spectacular tournament finale, the remaining contestants had to recommend a suitable wine to accompany a celebratory dinner in a restaurant setting, which would then be decanted and served. The finalists also had to compete in a blind tasting and food and wine matching, prove their professional knowledge in a quick-fire quiz round and give clients top advice on how to invest in wine.
The Vana Tallinn Baltic Sommelier Grand Prix has been held since 2006 with the aim of developing a responsible drinking culture – an aim with respect to which sommeliers have an important role to play. This year, the competition took place in Tallinn. The competition is named after Estonia’s most popular liqueur, the legendary Vana Tallinn.
Liviko organises the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix in cooperation with the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian sommelier associations.
Gallery: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/eset23agz204s4dy32480/h?rlkey=7202famx5pclb6bf3tzaok0yd&dl=0 (photographer Andrei Ozdoba)