Ruinart is delighted to announce the 2021 edition of the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge. An
annual event to highlight and support local sommelier talents and pass on the knowhow of
Maison Ruinart, this year’s Hong Kong edition took place in November 2021 and was based on
the theme “The Ripening of the Grape Berry”.
Created in 2010 in the United States, and now organized in 13 countries, the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge is a program that aims to unite talented sommeliers who share the same values of excellence and want to continue learning about wine and winemaking. This year in Hong Kong, Ruinart invited 21 participants from prestigious venues such as Rosewood, Ecriture, Think Wine, Aberdeen Marina Club, Epure, Sheraton etc.
During the half-day event, participants conducted a blind tasting competition of four sparkling
wines. The aim was to describe and draw conclusions about the wines to identify them as
precisely as possible, as well as suggest pairing and ideal serving temperatures. Following this
practical challenge, the Maison’s oenological team led a masterclass, live from Paris. This year’s
topic is the grape ripening: structure of the grape berry, when and how grapes load with sugar,
acids and other aromatic and phenolic compounds, how to monitor ripening and determining
the optimal harvest date to guide the style of the wine. The morning concluded with a lunch
accompanied by Ruinart wines.
The judging panel comprised of Frédéric Panaïotis, Chef de Caves of Ruinart, Yvonne Cheung,
previous winner of the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge and ex Swire Group Director of Wine and
Stephen Mack, Founder and CEO of Asia Wine Service and Education Centre.
The wines included in the blind tasting were: Laherte Frères champagne les Empreintes Extra
brut 2014, A by Arras Grand Vintage 2008, Champagne Agrapart & Fils Avizoise 2010 Blanc de
blancs extra brut and Champagne Billecart-Salmon, Brut ‘sous-bois’.
Over the following days, the jury went through all the anonymous sealed copies and selected the winner of the blind tasting the 2021 edition of the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge, Hong Kong: Kiki Sontiyart, Sommelier of Aarharn fine dining restaurant.
“I am still wonderstruck knowing that I have won the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge 2021. My interest in wine pairing all started back when I was in culinary school, I aspire to be able to create innovative pairing suggestions that range from classic French cuisine to the kinds of Asian food that I like to eat, pairing wine with Thai food is my absolute passion not only because it is my favourite, home-styled cuisine, but also that it requires a lot of out-of-the-box thinking, and I am all about challenges. “ – Kiki Sontiyart
Held in Hong Kong since 2014, the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge has already welcomed nearly 140 participants and crowned sommeliers Mirco Tarducci (2019) and Leo Au (2018).
The winners of each national edition win the opportunity to be part in a unique four-day training experience to discover the Champagne region, receive an exceptional cuvee bottle from Ruinart Maison as well as a Ruinart Sommelier Challenge Trophy.
« More than a competition, the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge is a privileged moment of encounters, exchanges and shared experiences for sommeliers.»
Frédéric Panaïotis, Cellar Master, Maison Ruinart