2019 NZ Sommeliers and Wine Professionals Competition

  • Celia Hay

2019 New Zealand Sommelier, Junior and Young Wine Professionals Competitions

NZ Young Sommelier and Young Wine Professional Theory Paper

There were 9 candidates with the marks ranging from 73% to 19%.

There were many gaps in knowledge about New Zealand wine, its regions and background.

Candidates wrote tasting notes based on a template for one white and one red New Zealand Wines. The wines Te Mata Zara Viognier 2018 and Heron's Flight Sangiovese, Matakana 2013.

Practicals for NZ Sommelier and Junior Sommelier 

The Practicals were conducted in a restaurant situation with two tables of judges. The judges included John Szabo MS, Marek Przyborek, Celia Hay, Susan Taylor, Lynnette Hudson and Jeremy Ellis.

New Zealand Junior Sommelier:

1. Wine Service to judges for wine under cork: (4 minutes)

2. Verbal tasting: Could you please describe the wine in front of you and advise on its potential for ageing. (3 minutes)

The wine was Viñátigo Marmajuelo 2015 from the Canary Islands.

Practicals for NZ Young Wine Professional

The Practicals were conducted as if in a wine retail environment. The judges included John Szabo MS, Celia Hay and Joe Wang from the Wine Cave for the Public Speaking Challenge and Cameron McPhee from Giesen Group for the Sales Pitch. 

Task 1: Imports are growing of international wines into New Zealand. How would you advise a small, artisan New Zealand winery to compete in this market?

Candidates were give this topic 24 hours before they had to present in public. (5 minutes)

Judges comments: There were some excellent points made by each candidate. Helpful advice for the winery included how to build better relationships with clients, attention to brand/label design, winemaker visits and on premise training with floor staff.

In general, candidates made clear and well-considered presentations with the three highest scores at over 80%.

Three finalists announced: Thomas Moschetta, Victoria Haysom, Jessica Bell

Task 2: The scenario is a wine retail store

We would like to invest in some wines to age for our retail store.

Could you please describe the wine in front of you (selected by each candidate from a list published in advance) and advise on its ageing potential. You have 5 minutes to complete this task.

Each candidate chose the Hans Herzog Nebbiolo 2013 as their wine to present. Other wines to chose from included the Giesen Fuder Chardonnay 2015, Elephant Hill Syrah 2017, Clos Marguerite Sauvignon Blanc 2018.

Judges comments: The three finalists provided clear and articulate presentations and were very knowledgable about Hans Herzog and his wines. The task was to consider whether this wine would provide a good investment over time. It would have been helpful if candidates had raised the investment issues in more detail, specifically the costs to purchase and then to hold and cellar this wine, its ability to age and long term opportunities for a return on this investment.

New Zealand Sommelier of the Year

There was a theory paper followed by a blind tasting of wine, fortified wines and spirits. 

Blind Wine Tasting:

1. White Red Newt Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York, USA 

2. Red Torres Celeste Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero, Spain

Verbal Blind Spirits and Fortified Wines

3 minutes

1. Style: Whisky,  Base Product: Barley,  Country of Origin: Scotland

2. Style: Palo Cortado,  Base Product: Grapes,  Country of Origin: Spain

3. Style: Tequila Anejo,  Base Product: Agave,  Country of Origin: Mexico

4. Style: Port,  Base Product: Grapes,  Country of Origin: Portugal

Theory paper

This included questions about New Zealand and international wine regions. See sample below


Practical Tasks

1. White wine presentation and decantation (optional) to four guests. 

4 minutes

Wine: Pegasus Bay Chardonnay

2. Live food and wine pairing

Task: On this table, there is a portion of Clevedon Mozzarella with Man O'War olive oil and there are two glasses of wine. Please taste the cheese and the wines. Describe the wines and advise on the best pairing.

Wine:  (1) Clos Marguerite Sauvignon Blanc and (2) Giesen Clayvin Chardonnay

3 minutes

3. Food and Wine Pairing: Menu by Nic Watt

With this menu, please pair with one wine from New Zealand and one wine from France. No regions are to be repeated.

Time: 1 minute to review menu + 3 minutes to present to judges

Canape            Panipuri/ ricotta/ yuzu

Entrée 1          Kingfish sashimi/ coconut cauliflower

Entrée 2          Tiger prawn Anticucho/ burnt lime

 Beef Sirloin whole roasted Teriyaki, fragrant herbs Creamed Pea, nasturtium vol au vent/ Almond butternut pumpkin


 Red wine poached beurre bosc pear/ ginger bread/ vanilla ice-cream



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