Super-Regional Young Sommelier Competition & Awards

Midwest and Southwest Regions

Saturday, April 04, 2009

With Grand Echanson Dan Gulbronsen


Chicago Hosts Midwest & Southwest 2009 Super Regional Young Sommelier Competition

By Jane Tracy, Bailli de Chicago

A super regional competition is a special event for those talented young men and women who dedicate their time to studying to compete in the Société Mondiale du Vin’s annual Young Sommelier Competition.  So, too, is the support shown by Chaine and Mondiale members from both the Southwest and Midwest region who travelled to Chicago in support of the contestants.

On Friday 3 April we welcomed Grand Echanson Dan Gulbronsen, Bailli Provincial SW Joel Klein and Dame Carol Klein, Echanson Provincial SW Charles Bennett, Bailli Provincial Hon. Mark Bermann and Dame Helen Bermann, as well as members from Denver and Dallas.
The seven candidates participating were:

Jeffrey Birkmeier – St. Louis, MO
Keith Herrick – St. Louis, MO
Chantelle Pabros – Chicago, IL SOUTHWEST
Christopher Bates, Brenham, TX
D’Lynn Proctor, Dallas, TX
Brandon Tebbe, Lonetree, CO
Dustin Wilson, Aspen, CO

The host hotel was the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower in the heart of Chicago with Chicago Chaine members General Manager Maître Hôtelier Patrick Filatre and Chef Rôtisseur Martial Noguier, Executive Chef. Everything was in place for both the day long examination procedures as well as for the Gala Dinner the Saturday evening.
Starting at 8 am on Saturday morning 4 April, the competitors were put through the rigorous Young Sommelier exam and blind tastings by Master Sommeliers Joseph Spellman, Alpana Singh and Serafin Alvarado, whilst at noon Chaine members enjoyed an impressive tasting of great California Pinot Noirs in Magnums from the personal collection of Dan Gulbronsen.  Hospice of Sonoma bottlings were chosen.  This took place at the InterContinental Chicago’s ENO’s Wine Bar thanks to the hotel’s General Manager Maître Hôtelier Edward Andrews.  Chef Rôtisseur Hans Lentz, Executive Chef prepared delicious small plates, charcuterie and a selection of cheeses to accompany the wines. 

Saturday evening, in Sofitel’s elegant Cigale Restaurant, we honored the seven competitors, thanked the Judges, acknowledged the generous wine donations and sponsors, and announced the winners for each region with Keith Herrick winning for the Midwest, and D’Lynn Proctor winning for the Southwest.  A short induction followed with Chicago Chapter members Chevaliers Erik Gould, Allen Kutchins and Marco Weiss being welcomed into La Société Mondiale du Vin.  A celebratory dinner had been crafted by Chef Noguier who was also inducted into the Chaîne that evening. 

The menu was contemporary American rooted in French classicism.  Chef Noguier crafted his dishes around the characteristics and notes of the wines donated by Icon Estates, St. Helena, CA comprising Robert Mondavi Reserve wines, and Justin Vineyards and Winery of Paso Robles comprising the fabulous Justin Isosceles 2005.  The eye had been ravished by the balanced presentation of each course. Ensembles were formed, the palate poised to appreciate the pairings.  Master Sommelier Joseph Spellman, Professional de Vin addressed the Justin wine and Master Sommelier Serafin Alvarado the Mondavi contribution on behalf of Icon Estates. The evening had reached its crescendo of creativity and we all took pride in the customary introduction of the Sofitel team who had worked so very closely with the Chicago Chapter to ensure superior and complete success.