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Jean-Vincent Ridon wins Best Sommelier title

Jean-Vincent Ridon wins Best Sommelier title
Jean-Vincent Ridon. (Photo: Supplied)

Fourth time around, winning sommelier’s success ‘a lesson in perseverance, determination and self-belief’.

The South African Sommeliers Association (Sasa) has selected Jean-Vincent Ridon of Sommelier’s Academy as the winner of the Best Sommelier of South Africa 2023 at Hazendal Wine Estate, an event held in conjunction with the Star Wine List of the Year South Africa awards.

In the sommelier competition, Laurie Cooper of Abingdon Wine Estate in KwaZulu-Natal secured the runner-up position and Tapiwa Jamu of Ivory Manor Boutique Hotel in Pretoria was placed third.

The judging panel included Jo Wessels, the world’s seventh-best sommelier; Wikus Human of Marble and Saint Restaurants and 2021 Best Sommelier of South Africa; Wayve Kolevsohn of The Royal Portfolio, and Chef Callan Austin of Dusk Restaurant.

Ridon wins an array of prizes, including the inaugural Michael Ratcliffe Award, a Coravin from Great Domaines, brandy from the SA Brandy Foundation, a €5,000 grant from the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC), an invitation to judge at the IWSC in London in 2024, and wines from Stellenbosch Wine Routes and our media partner Wine.co.za.

Sasa Chairman Spencer Fondaumiere said, “This is a monumental occasion. Jean-Vincent’s victory, after four attempts, serves as a lesson in perseverance, determination and self-belief. He has contributed significantly to our industry, and his success will undoubtedly inspire many. Congratulations to him and to all the semifinalists, as well as the other two finalists. Each has an inspiring story. I would like to thank the Sasa team for delivering a world-class event at a world-class venue.”

Meanwhile, Star Wine List of the Year celebrated the great wine lists in South Africa. The Grand Prix and two more gold stars were won by Culture Wine Bar in Cape Town.

Star Wine List of the Year is a celebration of the great wine lists in the world and the teams behind them. The prize was awarded in eight categories, and the winners in each category got a gold star and qualified for the international final (to be held in June 2024). The event was held alongside the Best Sommelier of South Africa 2023 Competition at Hazendal Wine Estate in Stellenbosch.

The jury for the Star Wine List of the Year South Africa 2023 comprises Tawanda Marume, Best Sommelier of Zimbabwe, Raimonds Tomsons, ASI Best Sommelier of the World 2023, Marc Almert, ASI Best Sommelier of the World 2019, and Julie Dupouy-Young, Best Sommelier of Ireland.

The Star wine list winners:

Grand Prix for the best overall list: Gold Star for Culture Wine Bar, Cape Town.

Best Long List for the best wine list with over 600 listings: Gold Star for Aubergine, Cape Town.

Best Medium-Sized List for the best wine list with 200-600 listings: Gold Star for Culture Wine Bar, Cape Town.

Best By the Glass List for the best wine list by the glass: Gold Star for the Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, Johannesburg.

Best Sparkling Wine List for the best list with sparkling wine: Gold Star for Culture Wine Bar, Cape Town.

Sustainable Wine List, recognising a wine list that has put extra emphasis on the wine programme’s impact, including wine growing, winemaking, packaging and transport: Gold Star: ëlgr restaurant, Cape Town.

Best Short List for the best wine list with fewer than 200 listings: Gold Star: Grub & Vine, Cape Town.

Best Newcomer List, recognising a venue that has opened recently: Gold Star: Signature Restaurant, Umhlanga, Durban. DM

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