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Looking over the vines at Simpsons Vineyard in Kent, England

A sommelier's perfect day of viniculture

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The finalists of The International Gaggenau Sommelier Awards 2018

Winning Sommelier claims his prize

The International Gaggenau Sommelier Awards 2018 saw six young sommeliers from across the globe, come together in Beijing to compete for the opportunity to be named as the winner of The Sommelier Awards. Judged by an illustrious panel of viniculture experts, Mikaël Grou representing France demonstrated a flawless performance which resulted in him being the victor of a series of challenges set by the judging panel and becoming a global Gaggenau culture ambassador.

As part of his prize, Mikaël received an exclusive mentoring day at Simpsons Vineyard in Kent and 67 Pall Mall in London. Alongside judge Sarah Abbott; Master of Wine, internationally recognised wine consultant, writer and speaker, Mikaël explored viniculture craftsmanship and tasted exceptional wines from across the world.

Wine rack at Simpsons Vineyard in Kent, England

A celebration of English wine

Located in an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, Simpsons is set on the sunny, sheltered slopes of the North Downs of Kent. Led by Charles and Ruth Simpson, the English wine estate is perfectly suited for creating elegant still and sparkling wines due to the south facing sloping vineyards which ensure heat accumulation during the day and cold air drainage at night. Adding to the ideal location, the vineyard’s eight-mile proximity to the coast ensures that the vines’ fruit is insulated against any intense variations in temperature.

Mikaël toured the Roman Road and Railway Hill Vineyards, learning which grapes are being grown and how the terroir and microclimate provides perfect conditions for creating English wine. The vineyard prides itself on combining traditional techniques with modern technology in order to create fresh approaches to crafting wine. The intriguing wine-making process at the winery was explored with Mikaël, before enjoying a tutored tasting of the vineyard’s portfolio of still and sparkling wines.

The home of exclusive wines - 67 Pall Mall door, in London England

The home of exclusive wines

67 Pall Mall is found in the heart of St James’s which has a long history as the centre of fine wine in London. It is regarded as having the best wine offering in London, with an impressive 19,000 bottles held in the wine vaults. As a sanctuary for the discerning oenophile, Mikaël enjoyed a food and wine pairing, led by the Senior Sommelier at 67 Pall Mall with a selection of some the best appellations and iconic wine producers across the world. To end Mikaël’s journey, he savoured a cult wine from California; Tant Pis! a 1995 vintage, composed of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah grapes, crafted by Manfred Krankl as a tribute to the iconic wine-maker Jacques Reynaud. Only 144 magnum bottles of this exclusive wine were crafted, making it one of the world’s most sought-after wines.

Watch Mikaël’s day unfold

Watch Sommelier award winner Mikaël’s perfect day of viniculture
Sarah Abbott, Master of Wine, writes notes about the vines at Simpsons Vineyard in Kent, England
“This wonderful day summed up everything that is so transformative about Gaggenau’s celebration of culinary culture. These connections are powerful. From Mikaël’s incredible vocation and dedication, to Charles and Ruth Simpson’s vision and generosity, to the unforgettable wines and service of 67 Pall Mall.”

Sarah Abbott - Master of Wine