Richelle van Gemert, who works at Hotel de Weverij, Restaurant
Cordial in Oss, Netherlands, prevailed in a tight final round with two competitors of the renowned competition which is organized by the South African wine export association.
“I really love South African wine, along with its food and people, so winning this competition is very special to me”, commented elated Richelle.
After following several rigorous semi-final rounds in various countries, a total of 11 finalists from around the world competed in the grand final of the competition at The Vineyard Hotel & Spa in Cape Town.
Semi-finalists started their day with a blind tasting of three wines where they had to identify the varietal, region where the grapes were farmed and year of vintage, while also identifying flavour components on each of the wines.
The second element of the day was a theory test, which delved into the history of South African winemaking, key wine varietals for the region and questions that pushed semi-finalists to draw from their own personal experiences and knowledge in marketing and promotion on South African wines abroad.
In the third element of the morning was a practical test, which saw semi-finalists recreate a traditional table service as one would find in a restaurant.
After a tense lunch break, Maja Hempel (Sweden), Derek Li (Hong Kong) and Richelle van Gemert (UK) were to compete in the final practical assessment in front of an audience of roughly 100 guests.
The Grand Final event, was judged by a selection of local and international judges which included Marc Almert (Germany), who was the overall winner of this competition in 2016 and currently holds the title of ASI Best Sommelier in the World, Sören Polonius (Sweden) and Ronan Sayburn (UK).
The local judges who were all members of the South African Sommelier Association (SASA), were Barry Schofield (Chairman of SASA) and Spencer Fondaumiere.
For the first time this year, an Associate Judge, Minenhle Mthombeni was part of the panel.
WINES OF SOUTH AFRICA (WoSA) is a not for profit organization which promotes the export of all South African wine in key international markets. Apart from the head office in Stellenbosch, South Africa, WoSA also has offices in Johannesburg, England, Canada, USA, Sweden, China, The Netherlands and Germany.