British Columbia – The BC Wine Institute (BCWI) is pleased to announce the inaugural title of Wines of British Columbia Top Sommelier 2020 goes to Andrew Forsyth, Sommelier of L’Abattoir Restaurant in Vancouver following the debut of the Chef Meets BC Grape Somm Smackdown Competition Series Finale on October 21, 2020.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of BC VQA, the BCWI teamed up with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) BC to recruit and challenge the best and brightest sommeliers in BC and Alberta to compete in a three-part innovative competition series involving written exams, blind tastings of BC wine, virtual dinners and the ultimate BC wine pairing challenge.
“Chef Meets BC Grape Somm Smackdown brings the BC wine industry together to celebrate our world-class BC wine, food and hospitality,” said Miles Prodan, President and CEO, BC Wine Institute. “As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of BC VQA Wine, we’re excited to collaborate with CAPS BC not only to highlight BC’s incredible wine country but also to showcase the amazing talent in our industry, the sommelier and chef community, and the incredible 100 per cent BC wines being created right here in our own backyard.”
Top sommeliers were recruited to test their knowledge of BC’s wine industry in a written and blind tasting challenge in Victoria, Vancouver and Calgary. The top three sommeliers from each city moved on to the semi-finals to compete for “Best BC Wine Pairing” in a virtual multi-chef collaborative Chef Meets BC Grape Somm Smackdown dinner series.
Adapting to the current reality, these dinners were conducted via live Zoom streaming events held in each city. Sommeliers were tasked with pairing 100 per cent BC wine with local creations prepared by top chefs in a three-course dinner. Wine pairings and dinner packs were delivered to esteemed wine and food critics around the city with pre-recorded videos on how to prepare and assemble the dishes and a Zoom link to tune into the live event. During the live streaming, chefs spoke to their dishes and the sommeliers took to the stand to defend their wine pairing, while the judges tasted along and provided their vote online for ‘Best BC Wine Pairing’.
The winning sommelier from each virtual event travelled to the Okanagan to compete in a three-round finale, pairing BC wines with plates created by acclaimed BC winery chefs throughout wine country over three days.
The sommelier finalists included:
- Adriano Cartuliares, Sommelier and Wine Director, 10 Acres in Victoria
- Andrew Forsyth, Sommelier, L’Abattoir Restaurant in Vancouver
- Jean Taylor, Diploma Wine & Spirits Education Trust, Canadian Wine Scholar and Store Manager for Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer.
Judges, including the event emcee, Christopher Waters, Wine Columnist of The Globe and Mail, voted via ballot for what they believed was the “Best BC Wine Pairing” at each days’ event. Votes were accumulative over the three days, with Forsyth coming out on top with the highest overall percentage of votes across all three rounds.
“It feels amazing to win, especially with the extraordinary palates I had judging me and the two talented somms that I got to compete against, it’s an incredible feeling,” said Forsyth.
The winning pairings included:
Round one: Andrew Forsyth’s pairing of 1 Mill Road Vineyards’ Home Block Pinot Noir 2018 with Quails’ Gate, Old Vines Restaurant Chef Roger Sleiman’s sablefish with soy marinade, celeriac puree, fennel and beurre rouge.
Round two: Andrew Forsyth’s pairing of LaStella Winery’s Moscato D’Osoyoos 2019 with Phantom Creek Estate Winery Chef Sarah Fiore’s melon salad with habanero vinegar.
Round three: Adriano Cartuliares’ pairing of Le Vieux Pin Winery’s Equinoxe Syrah 2011 with The Restaurant at Poplar Grove Chef Rob Ratcliffe’s aged duck breast with rye berries and macadamia nut.
“The pairings this week have been really effective, it’s hard to isolate just one because every meal has been memorable,” said Waters. “One of the things that make BC wines so successful is that they all have this clean sweep of acidity that freshens your taste buds so a lot of them work with food and that’s where the art of the sommelier comes in. The magic of wine and food pairings is that the wine gets better, the food gets better, the experience is elevated, and that’s what makes a successful pairing.”
“CAPS BC and the BC Wine Institute share a philosophy and a vision to enhance the exposure of sommeliers and their role within the BC wine industry,” said Mark Taylor, President, CAPS BC and judge for the event. “A competition like this educates and raises the profile of the sommelier, and it provides something for the somm community to get excited about.”
In addition to taking home the title of the very first Wines of British Columbia Top Sommelier 2020, Forsyth also secured a spot in the 4th annual Wine BC BootCamp for an all-inclusive four-day, three-night educational trip in BC wine country, slated to go ahead in spring 2021.
For more details on the Chef Meets BC Grape Somm Smackdown Competition and competitors visit WineBC.com.
The Grand Finale judges included:
- Alex Conne, General Manager, Willow Park Wines & Spirits
- Audrey Surrao, Restauranteur, RauDZ Regional Table, micro bar & bites, Sunny’s Modern Diner and Terrafina at Hester Creek Estate Winery
- Christina Hartigan, Wine Director, Wildebeest and Gooseneck Hospitality
- Christopher Waters, Wine Columnist, Globe & Mail
- Devin Rigaux, General Manager, Annabelle’s Kitchen / Bar Annabelle
- Kristi Linneboe, Sommelier
- Mark Filatow, Chef and Sommelier, Waterfront Wines
- Mark Taylor, President, CAPS BC
- Matt Wentzell, Sommelier & Owner, Experience Wine Tours
- Maude Renaud Brisson, Sommelier and Founder, Apero Mode
- Rhys Pender, Master of Wine and owner of WinePlus+
In support of the government’s continued efforts to minimize the risk and spread of the COVID-19 virus, the BC Wine Institute engaged ConnectSeven Group to implement a comprehensive COVID-19 risk mitigation plan with a focus on safety and physical distancing to ensure all Chef Meets BC Grape Somm Smackdown events were executed with the highest standards of safety and cleanliness, following provincial regulations and protocols. ConnectSeven are part of the working group responsible for creating the BC Meetings and Events COVID-19 Safe Restart Guidelines and have in-depth knowledge of the Provincial Health Officer’s COVID-19 orders and risk mitigation practices.