Shangri-La's first wine summit attracts contestants from Shangri-La's 82 properties around the globe. A panel of 13 international judges for the final competition is spearheaded by wine master Gerard Basset. Photos provided to China Daily
Master of wine Gerard Basset was in Shanghai recently to discover a fresh new crop of young sommeliers who also attended his master classes. Rebecca Lo cheers from the sidelines.
The pressure was intense. Five finalists, each from a different country, were vying for the coveted title of best sommelier within Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. Contestants flew in from Toronto, Abu Dhabi and Tokyo to participate in Shanghai alongside Chinese sommeliers with a home court advantage. Each had his or her strengths and weaknesses, with their cultural backgrounds permeating the way they served guests as well as the breadth of wine and spirit of their knowledge. This was Shangri-La's first wine summit, held in the recently opened Jing An Shangri-La from Aug 29 to Sept 2. The highlights of the event were the young sommelier competition, an awards ceremony celebrating the winners, a series of master classes led by Gerard Basset and an exclusive wine dinner held in Jing An Shangri-La's Horizon Club lounge featuring wine pairings selected by the group's top sommeliers.
Robert Blackborough, Jing An Shangri-La's director of food and beverage, explains during the wine dinner for 24 guests that the summit began with an idea more than four years ago.
"Our group director of F&B, Lawrence McFadden, attended a Quincy Jones concert," he explains. "Instead of focusing on his own music, Quincy was promoting emerging talents. Given the rise of wine culture in Asia, Lawrence thought that it was a great idea to begin nurturing our up-and-coming sommeliers, for guests to enjoy an enhanced experience."
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