Andrés Rangel wins Sud de France Sommelier of the Year 2019

Andres Rangel is named Sud de France Sommelier of the Year 2019

Andres Rangel is named Sud de France Sommelier of the Year 2019 - Credit: Archant

The annual competition puts sommeliers’ serving skills and knowledge of the Occitanie wine region to the test

The sommeliers were tested on their cheese and wine pairing skills

The sommeliers were tested on their cheese and wine pairing skills - Credit: Archant

Andrés Rangel has been crowned Sud de France Sommelier of the Year 2019. The assistant head sommelier at Michelin-star restaurant Gymkhana in London's Mayfair took the title after proving his wine knowledge and practical skills in a tense final on 30 September, beating off competition from finalists from across the UK. Andrés will now take part in the World Sud de France Sommelier competition in spring 2020 and will travel to France for a personalised tasting tour to meet winemakers at a number of vineyards across the Occitanie region.

The final challenge involved pouring equal measures of a magnum of Limoux into 16 glasses

The final challenge involved pouring equal measures of a magnum of Limoux into 16 glasses - Credit: Archant

"I was very nervous on the day but enjoyed every task, and I am looking forward to the big prize," said Andrés. "There is so much more about Occitanie and its wines I want to get to know."

Occitanie is home to the UNESCO-listed Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct © Sud de France

Occitanie is home to the UNESCO-listed Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct © Sud de France - Credit: Archant

The aim of the competition, now in its 10th year, is to encourage participants to expand their knowledge and appreciation of wines from Occitanie, the world's largest wine region which includes the Languedoc and Roussillon vineyards. The competition involved a number of judging rounds and Andrés was one of three candidates selected from the eight semi-finalists to make it to the final, where they were presented with a number of different challenges: a blind tasting of four wines - two whites and two rosés, one of which was corked; a food and wine matching exercise where the sommeliers were asked to choose two cheeses from a cheeseboard and match them to any of the wines blind-tasted during the competition; and a service test where the finalists were tested on their ability to pour out equal measures of a magnum of Limoux into 16 glasses. The judging panel was led by Douglas Blyde, a wine consultant and wine columnist for the Evening Standard.

"Our competition format aims to test a combination of knowledge and precision, and to be an exhilarating celebration of the region's wines which contribute more and more to the success of a modern wine list," says Isabelle Kanaan, Executive Director of La Maison de la Région Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditeranée.

With over 260,000 hectares of vineyards, Occitanie is the leading wine region in France - 33% of French wine is produced here and the organic vineyards in the region represent 30% of France's total. Many of Occitanie's wine areas have been awarded the Vignobles et Découvertes label, a national guarantee of quality in wine tourism, and visitors can follow a number of dedicated wine routes through pretty villages and past historic sites.

Occitanie is also home to No5 Toulouse, named the best wine bar in the world in both 2017 and 2018. It has 3,800 wines on its wine list and serves 500 of them by the glass.

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