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  Ten through to semi-finals of Exceptional Wine Service Award

21 Jul 2011

Topics: Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award, South African Sommelier Association, wine, wine service

Josephine Gutentoft

Ten sommeliers are through to the second round of The Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award, a national competition aimed at encouraging those who seek to make a living from wine service.

Endorsed by the recently formed South African Sommelier Association (SASA), the competition is a joint initiative between Michael Fridjhon (importer of Riedel Glassware and taster for Platter's Guide) and Vinimark The Wine Company (importer of Champagne Bollinger and South Africa’s largest independent specialist wine wholesaling company).

First-round applicants needed to be currently employed in the service of food and wine, and have at least three years’ experience. Most entrants work at top restaurants and hotels in the main tourist regions, although, surprisingly there were no entrants from either Mpumalanga or Limpopo provinces.

First-round candidates were assessed on the basis of their completed questionnaire (theoretical component) for which the minimum pass was 65%, as well as on the basis of their practical experience of wine service in a fine dining environment.

Six of the semi-finalists are from the Western Cape, three from Gauteng and one from KwaZulu-Natal. Contestants through to the semi-finals are:


Mike Buthelezi (Signature Restaurant)

Sean Trollip (Kream Restaurant)

Francis Krone (Saxon Boutique Hotel)

Western Cape

Gregory Mutambe (The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa)

David Nel (La Colombe Restaurant)

Joakim Blackadder (The Roundhouse Restaurant)

Josephine Gutentoft (Grande Roche Hotel & Bosman’s Restaurant)

Carl Heinz Habel (Mount Nelson Hotel)

Wayve Kolevsohn (Le Quartier Français)


Eric Botha (The Oyster Box Hotel)

The recently formed South African Sommelier Association (SASA) is fully behind the award and some of its members will be judges at the competition. The association aims to provide training and mentorship to guarantee the continuous development of professional standards of wine service at the highest level.

Higgo Jacobs, secretary of SASA, says: “We are truly excited to be involved in the judging for the award, thus endorsing this initiative. We hope that this will become a sustainable and key motivator in our aims to improve wine service in South Africa."

The semi-finals will be held in early August in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Semi-finalists for the practical component of the competition will be tested on their knowledge of wine styles and tasting ability in the form of a blind tasting. They will be assessed further on their competence in making food-and-wine pairing recommendations, and finally on their ability to perform tasks of professional wine service.

The finals will take place in Cape Town in October, and the winner will be announced at The Swartland Revolution on 11 November 2011.

For further details, visit the official website:

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