Union League Club of Chicago

Sunday, February 21, 2016 –


Regional Young Sommelier Competition & Burgundy’s Mystique

By Vice Echanson Manfred Raiser; Photos by Lorenzo Tassone

On the third Sunday in February, thirty Chicago and Lake Shore Bailliage members congratulated the winner of the Regional Young Sommelier competition, Miranda Elliott (currently at Maple & Ash), at a Champagne reception prior to a fabulous Mondiale Burgundy tasting. The day concluded with a delightful Burgundy dinner. All of the events were hosted at the Union League Club of Chicago.

The 2016 Young Sommelier Competition of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs started with a written exam in December. Twelve contestants from the Midwest region participated and the three top scorers advanced to the next round. Sommeliers Miranda Elliot (Chicago), Kaleb Kiger (Omaha) and Alex Ring (Chicago) were met by Vice Echanson National des Jeunes Sommeliers David Merrill and his panel of judges at 8:15 am. The exam consisted of three parts: a blind tasting of three white and three red wines, testing of theoretical knowledge, and, most importantly, testing practical sommelier skills. The winner, Miranda Elliott, goes on to represent our region at the national competition in California, which will be held in April, and the national winner will represent the U.S. at the international competition in the autumn.

During the Mondiale tasting, a stellar lineup of eight Burgundies was poured (three white and five red) highlighting differences in terroir, microclimate and vintages. Our expert guide was Mr. Johnson Ho, proprietor of Pantheon Wine Shoppe in Northbrook, Illinois, and an internationally noted Burgundy expert. His wit, charm and intimate knowledge of the region, its history, culture and, of course, wines turned the first Mondiale event in the 50th anniversary year of our Chaîne Chapter into a memorable event that was both highly educational and highly entertaining.

Burgundy came alive:  We felt as if we were standing at the entrance to Ceasar’s castra and were looking down at Vosne-Romanée. To this day the name reminds us of the “Roman commune.” Minutes later, time travel allowed us to attend the coronation of Charlemagne and witness how displeased the King’s wife was with red wine stains in her husband’s white beard. In the 8th century, Charlemagne actually owned the hill of Corton, which initially was planted exclusively with red varietals. This had to change! A section was replanted with white grapes and the wine became known as Corton-Charlemagne. And what about Côte d’Or? Did you think this name referred to the “Gold Coast” of Burgundy? Today’s real estate prices might suggest this; however, it is merely an abbreviation of Côte d’Orient, the east slope.

Union League Club Executive Chef Michael Garbin prepared a special dinner for our group. We drank beef consommé, served unsalted and unseasoned from a Burgundy wine glass, as a prelude, accompanied by a dry and flinty Chablis with pronounced minerality to prime our palates. Next, a healthy salad came with five different citrus fruits and feta cheese. I had visions of introducing this nutritious course nationwide into our school system: “You see, good food can have a great taste.” The porchetta pork roast was an immensely satisfying main course and our fine red Burgundies were displaying their finesse and refinement (rather than weight and power) as they were paired. The cheese course had a special twist, it was Anabasque sheep cheese served with a salad, and in good Burgundian fashion, a white Burgundy followed a red. The fitting finale was a cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Our honored guests, including Bailli Provincial Renee Wilmeth, were pleased with the day’s extraordinary events.


05 February 2016

Cher Confrères and Consœurs:




Union League Club of Chicago
65 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago 60604
Sunday, 21 February 2016 2:30PM

Greetings!  Please join us for our first Mondiale event of 2016.  We are delighted to host this year’s Midwest Regional Young Sommelier Competition at the Union League Club from 9am to 2pm.  It will be a private affair.  The winner will be announced at our Burgundy Tasting session described below.  We have two strong candidates from our city.

Starting at 2:30pm we will gather at the Tudor Room (Room 700, 7th Floor) to explore Burgundy’s Myths and Lore.  Mr. Johnson Ho, the internationally noted Burgundy expert and proprietor of Pantheon Wines will lead our exploration.  We will taste white and red wines from the region, appreciate the aromatic contrasts, geographic differences and aging potential of these legendary wines.  The wine selection will include highlights favored by Julius Caesar and Charlemagne along with geniuses on the cusp of stardom.  We will make stunning discoveries, encounter sensual delights and take home wisdom for a lifetime.  We will come to learn that Burgundy is about ethereal appeal rather than size and power!

Champagne Reception and Dinner will immediately follow the Burgundy session.  Chef Michael Garbin has crafted a 3-course dinner for us to enjoy with our wines.  He is no stranger to our group’s standards.

This event is open to all members of the Chaine.  Non-Mondiale members will pay a modest surcharge.  For Out-of-Town Guests, the Union League Club is offering us very favorable room rates.  You may arrive 3 days prior to the event.  Room reservations are taken at (800) 443-0578 or (312) 427-7800, please make reference to “Young Sommelier Competition, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, Midwest Region” to avail of the special rate.

Please sign up early.  Seating is limited.  We look forward to spending a fun afternoon with you all.

Bruce W. Foudree           Manfred W. Raiser                   Mon Y. Roldan
Bailli de Lake Shore         Vice Échanson de Chicago     Bailli de Chicago