NZ Sommelier ranked 8th in World

  • Celia Hay

ASI World Best Sommelier Competition 2023

Andrea Martinisi represented New Zealand for the second time and was placed 8th in the world at the ASI Association of Sommeliers International World Best Sommelier Competition.

The sommeliers (pictured above) are champions in their own country and have won the honour of representing their country through local competitions. This year 68 candidates from 65 countries lined-up. Of this group, 12 women or 18% of the candidates were women, in a competition that has historically been dominated by men.  In the final rankings 3 women were placed in the top 6 sommeliers of the world. 

Quarter Finals

All candidates must compete in the quarter final which involves a written exam to test their knowledge of the world of beverages including coffee, leading producers, wine-making processes, distillation, even current news and trends. This year, the blind tastings consisted of 5 wines including one fortified wine followed by a practical table service task (3 minutes) in front of four judges.

Quarter-final Blind Tasting

  • De Martino Cinsault Viejas Tinajas 2021, Itata, Chile
  • Alto Horizonte El Cerro Brujo Garnacha 2020, Gredos, Spain
  • David Duband Nuits-Saint-Georges 2017, Bourgogne, France
  • Niepoort Bastardo 2020, Douro, Portugal

Full Organoleptic Description

  • Lustau Almacenita Palo Cortado, Jerez Spain

Semi-finalists announced at the Hotel de Ville, Paris

From that first round, 17 sommeliers were selected for the semi-finals competition where candidates start again with no points from the quarter finals and through a series of more difficult tests and practical challenges . Based on their results, three sommeliers were later selected to compete for the final, performed live in front of an audience.

From the President, William Wouters

‘Having been privileged to witness the performance of many of the competitors at our ASI continental contests, I can unequivocally say the quality of sommellerie around the globe is getting better each year. 

‘The divide between the skills of sommeliers in traditional wine producing countries, such as those in Western Europe, and the rest of the world is getting smaller and smaller each year,’ comments William Wouters, President of ASI International Association of Sommeliers. 

L-R Kevin Lu, Taiwan, Reeze Choi, China, Chuan Ann Tan, Malaysia, Andrea Martinisi, New Zealand Wataru Iwata, Japan

Sommeliers from Asia-Oceania in the Semi-Final

The preparation for this competition requires dedication and focus. Questions can come from any wine, spirit or beverage product and from any region in the world.  Preparing and polishing blind tasting skills, quick recall of obscure facts pushes the sommeliers to new levels of professionalism which is truly impressive.

Sommeliers from Taiwan, China, Malaysia, New Zealand and Japan were successful in being selected for the 17 Semi-Final places.

Semi-Final theory paper

'I came to the competition with a clear goal of getting into the semi-finals and hopefully to get a chance to be on the podium. It’s tough and the knowledge and experience of the top candidates is very impressive,' comments Andrea Martinisi

Semi-final Blind Tasting of 3 wines (they were the same wine). How did they differ? (use of oak). The wine was Saint-Estèphe Tonnellerie Taransaud, Bordeaux, France.

  • 1. American oak
  • 2. Hungarian oak
  • 3. French oak

Semi-final Task No.2 Blind Tasting of Sparkling wine

  • Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2016, Kent, England

Semi-final Task No.2 Tasting Fortified and Spirits

  • Barolo Chinato
  • Barack Palinka
  • Sloe Gin
  • Sotol
  • Umeshu

Semi-final Practical Task Bar No.3. Andrea prepares for the tasks.

Prepare the following cocktails

  • Aviation 
  • Sazerac

Semi-final Task No.3 Bar 2/2 No/Low Alcohol Alternative Beverage Blind Tasting

  • Water Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Tepache (low alcohol pineapple beverage from Mexico)
  • Geicha Coffee, Panama (Chemix, Cold)
  • Amazake (sweet sake)

Semi-final Task No. 4 Service

  • Fleur de Miraval ER3 Brut Champagne
  • Meteor Wendelinus Blonde (Beer, Alsace)

Reception at Hotel de Ville, Paris

Andrea Martinisi, Angela Allan, NZ sommelier volunteer, Celia Hay, President New Zealand Sommeliers and Wine Professionals.

Angela Allan came to the competition as a volunteer to help with the event which ran over 7 days. There were 60 volunteers across member countries.

Cheese table

Celia Hay with 2019 World Best Sommelier, Marc Almert (Germany), Kris Lismont (Belgium), Hiroshi Ishida (Japan) and wine writer, Robert Joseph (UK).

The Finalists

Nina Jensen (Denmark), Raimonds Tomsons (Latvia), and Reeze Choi (China) were selected to go through to the final.

Reeze Choi (China) with Michelin starred  chef Anne-Sophie Pic of Maison Pic.

FINAL - Task No. 3 Blind Tasting

  • Nik Weis Goldtröpfchen G.G 2021, Mosel, Germany
  • Dom. Wachau Riesling Federspiel Loibenberg 2021, Wachau, Austria
  • Alheit Vineyards Monument Semillon 2021, Franschhoek, South Africa
  • Riccitelli Semillon 2021, Rio Negro, Patagonia, Argentina

Nina Jensen (Denmark) discusses the menu pairing.

Raimonds Tomsons (Latvia) decants for the judges.

The finalists must blind taste and assess the wine pictured above. They were then presented with a second glass of an older vintage and asked to assess its age. The audience was extremely excited to learn that the wine was Chateau Petrus 2012 and 2003.

ASI Best Sommelier 2023

1st Raimonds Tomsons (Latvia)

2nd Nina Jensen (Denmark)

3rd Reeze Choi (China)

Congratulations to the winners and all the competitors.

All sommeliers on the stage at the Final.

Late night drinks at the Bar de Sommeliers

Semi-finalists formal photograph





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