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A week of discovery in Antwerp

Thanks to the hard work by the Belgian organizing committee, everyone who took part in the 2019 ASI Best Sommelier of the World contest had a great opportunity to discover Antwerp’s eclectic mix of history and modern character in everything from architecture to food and culture. Candidates, delegations, journalists and other participants had the chance to see and taste all sorts of local specialties, like fries, chocolates, diamonds, beer, and even Belgian wines!

A dozen or so master classes were also offered throughout the week, creating learning opportunities for the candidates and participants, with a wide range of programs, from a vertical of eight vintages of Château Beaucastel’s Hommage Jacques Perrin cuvée to an exploration of biodynamics and Languedoc terroir with Gérard Bertrand, a presentation of ancient Catalan grapes revived by Torres Family, and more technical tastings exploring the effects of bottle size or closure permeability on wine profiles. “It’s very good, because competitions like this are all about learning,” commented Martin Bruno, the semi-finalist from Argentina, when asked about the week’s program. “There was a high level of quality and knowledge in the master classes, especially on Thursday and Friday,” concurred Satoru Mori, the Japanese semi-finalist.

Many positive comments were made about the many sommeliers who volunteered, under the coordination of the Guild of Belgian Sommeliers. In addition to pouring dozens and dozens of bottles, switching over from one master class to the other could require changing over as many as 2,400 glasses in 20 minutes! “I need to thank the sommelier team, for all the service they did during the master classes,” said Chinese semi-finalist Reeze Choi. “They worked very hard and very fast.”

Austrian Wine and Côtes du Rhône, in particular, offered the candidates and other lucky attendees the opportunity to discover the best their regions have to offer during their platinum master classes, while also supplying a vast selection of wines, changing every night, at the Bar des Sommeliers – with many somms spending time at the bars taking notes, even well after regular hours. “An amazing and inspiring program,” insisted Reeze Choi about the Austrian and Rhodanian contributions to the program.

The complete list of the 2019 ASI Best Sommelier of the World contest’s partners is available here. Thanks to all of them for making the event so memorable.

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