The Best Baltic Sommelier is Kaspars Reitups from Latvia
“Winning the title of the best sommelier in the Baltics is a great honor. Being first contestant out of four today I had a valuable chance to observe all other candidates and therefore I am sure it was very fierce competition and each of the candidates were very knowledgeable and experienced. Consequently, I feel particularly proud that I managed to keep the title of the best Baltic sommelier in Latvia for the third year in a row,“ said Kaspars Reitups, the winner of Vana Tallinn Grand Prix 2014.
This year’s Vana Tallinn Grand Prix was characterised by tough competition and all finalists, with no exception, deserved to win. During these 9 years in which the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix competition has been held, the level of drinking culture has improved considerably and the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix has become the most important competition for sommeliers in the Baltic States.
The competitors of the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix included the best three sommeliers from each of the Baltic States. The competitors were assessed by an international jury, chaired by the President of the Austrian Sommelier Association Annemarie Foidl.
The Vana Tallinn Grand Prix has considerably expanded the world of sommeliers in the Baltic States, providing enriching experiences both to the competitors as well as the members of the jury. It was, indeed, Vana Tallinn Grand Prix – the first competition for sommeliers in the Baltic States – that involved a professional international jury. This ensured the conformity of the competition to international standards from the start and widened the scope of knowledge of the participants.
“It was second opportunity for me to take part in the jury’s work in this competition. Since 2009 it is large and enormous rise in the quality of sommeliers here in Baltics. The candidates are very close to the top sommeliers of Europe because they have to know a lot, they have to be fast, they have to be very flexible, and also the diversity of products in the market is very large what they have to feel comfortable about. Each one of them did great job and also I can feel that cooperation between the countries is very successful. To win the competition one has to be very charming, very professional, very attractive on the stage and it is always a little bit of luck. But I am sure each candidate can be very proud of the place they won in this competition,” said the President of the Austrian Sommelier Association and the chairwoman of the jury of Vana Tallinn Grand Prix, Annemarie Foidl.
The Best Baltic Sommelier Kaspars Reitups was awarded a wine trip to a destination of his choice worth of 1000 euros. The winner of second prize Kristjan Markii was awarded a handmade sabrage sword. The winner of third prize Karel Veski was presented a sommelier-case with Riedel glasses. Each participant of Vana Tallinn Grand Prix was presented a book-shaped gift box including a bottle of Vana Tallinn together with an exclusive pen. The prizes came from the founder of the competition – AS Liviko.
The sommeliers representing Estonia and competing for the title of the Best Sommelier of the Baltic States were the last year’s second prize winner of the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix, the lecturer of the Estonian Sommelier Association Kristjan Markii; the Best Sommelier in Estonia 2014, the sales representative of Liviko HoReCa, Karel Veski; and the sommelier of the Von Krahli Aed restaurant, Kristina Ratso.
The competitors from Latvia at the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix were Agnese Meiersone (Vina Studija); the winner of third prize at last year’s Vana Tallinn Grand Prix, Kaspars Reitups (restaurant Vincents); and Toms Liepins (restaurant Vincents).
The Lithuanian competitors at Vana Tallinn Grand Prix included Narimantas Miežys (sommelier at the Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square Vilnius), Albertas Koncijalovas (Liviko SIA wine consultant) and Martynas Pravilonis (wine expert at the Vyno Klubas restaurant).
There were also guest competitors at the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix from Russia, Austria and Norway who did not compete for the title of Best Baltic Sommelier. Russia was represented by Maria Zueva (the PR Director of the Russian Sommelier Association), Norway by Beate Strande Gudbrandsgard (Hotel Continental, Theatercafeen restaurant) and Austria by one of their best sommeliers, Suvad Zlatic (the head sommelier of Geigers Posthotel).
On the first day of the competition – October 16th – all 12 competitors had to complete a test on theoretical knowledge. Based on the test the best four sommeliers were selected who continued competing in the final round organised the next day. In the final the competitors had to fulfil the following tasks: to amend an incorrect wine list, serve sparkling wine from a magnum-size wine bottle, pair food and wine, pass a blind testing and serve an apéritif.
The competition awarding the title of Best Baltic Sommelier takes its name from Liviko’s legendary Vana Tallinn liqueur, the most popular beverage of its kind in Estonia. Liviko has organised the Vana Tallinn Grand Prix with the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Sommelier Associations since 2005.