Sommeliers who scored highest in a blind tasting conducted as part of Treasury Wine Estates Luxicon tour were awarded cash scholarships in a unique event combining a master class in tasting techniques with an opportunity to demonstrate how the deductive reasoning approach used by the Court of Master Sommeliers applies in a blind setting.
A total of $25,000 was awarded by the SommFoundation to 21 sommeliers in seven cities that were part of the Treasury tour, which included a grand tasting of TWE’s luxury portfolio. This year’s Luxicon tour included stops in Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Miami, New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Will Smith, TWE’s Director of Wine Education, noted the Luxicon tour was designed “to help working sommeliers with their ongoing certificate education while sharing information and the opportunity to become familiar with Treasury’s luxury portfolio, including iconic wines from Beringer, Beaulieu Vineyard, Chateau St. Jean, Etude, Penfolds, Stags’ Leap and Sterling.”
Luxicon began with a Tasting Techniques seminar co-hosted by TWE Master Sommelier Gillian Ballance and top sommeliers from each city. Following the seminar a blind tasting of four wines was staged, with sommeliers asked to provide as many wine attributes as possible in a timed session using the grid method. The top three winners in each city were awarded a $1200 scholarship each to help defray the cost of studying for professional wine certification. Winners are also spotlighted in a feature article in The Somm Journal, which co-sponsored the events in each city.
Scholarship winners include (Atlanta) Joe Herrig, Fine Wine Key Account Manager, Georgia Crown Distributing; Juan Cortes, Sommelier; Natalia Pavlik, Mac’s Beer & Wine Midtown Liquor;
(Boston) Nick Daddona, Beverage Director, Boston Harbor Hotel; Jodi Bronchtein, Sommelier, L’Espalier; Lauren Daddona, Wine Director, L’Espalier; (Houston) Monica Townsend, Sommelier, Camerata at Paulie’s; Menno Ozinga, La Griglia; Steven McDonald, Sommelier, Pappas Bros; (Las Vegas) Peter Plaehn, Wine Specialist Negoce; Kirk Peterson, Beverage Director, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group; Norman Acosta, Sommelier, Rivea; (Miami) Adrian Lopez, Sommelier, Los Fuegos; Eric Blais, Wine Director, USS Nemo; Tim Bubar, Faena Hotel; (New York) Tristan Prat-Vincent, Wine Director, Park Hyatt; Allison Siena, Food & Beverage Director, Hilton Garden Inn Roslyn; Sean Dowling, Head Sommelier, Rare 650; (San Francisco) Lindsey DeSmidt, Sommelier, Park Tavern; Jienna Basaldu, Echo & Rig Steakhouse at DOCO, Sacramento; Kim Oshiro, Argon Wine Systems.
Joining Balance as presenters and co-hosts were Brahm Callahan, MS; Christopher Boyett, AS; Kyungmoon Kim, MS; Sur Lucero, MS; Ira Harmon, MS; Eric Hemer, MS, MW and Jack Mason, MS.