Author: Jānis Kaļķis
Raimonds Tomsons from Latvia has become the winner of the Wine Olympic Games, or the ASI World sommelier championship organized by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) every three years. The representative of Latvia triumphed for the first time in the championship, which is usually dominated by gastronomic superpowers. The Latvian Association of Sommeliers is convinced that Tomson’s historic victory will give a significant push to the development of the hospitality, wine and restaurant industry, placing Latvia on the world wine map forever. The Association of Latvian Sommeliers has turned to the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia with a request for a financial award for the Champion for an outstanding achievement and contribution to the promotion of the country.
Latvian representative Raimonds Thomsons triumphed in the final of the World's Best Sommelier competition organized by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) or the World Association of Sommeliers held at the La Défense arena in Paris on February 12. In the competition, which has been running since 1969, 68 participants from 65 countries were thoroughly tested over four days by a jury of the world's most recognized professionals, forcing the candidates to demonstrate both theoretical knowledge in the fields of winemaking, wine geography, history, culture and enjoyment, as well as practical skills - from "blind ” tastings to engaging tasks showcasing the contestants' readiness in front of the jury and show-hungry public.
In front of more than 4,000 industry professionals, the competition ended up with Nina Højgaard Jensen from Denmark, Reese Choi from China and Raimonds Tomsons entering the final, where Tomsons turned out to be the best for the first time in history Latvia.
Of the competition, ASI President William Wouters says, “it took more than 30 years for this contest to return to Paris. It was worth the wait! From the first day candidates arrived, they were treated to the hospitality and amazing gastronomy of France. As for the contest itself, it honoured the commitment of our candidates by being both challenging and fair. It is with great pride that we announce Raimonds Tomsons as the winner. I have no doubts they will be a fantastic representative of ASI, and an inspiration to our global sommelier community.”
Jānis Kaļķis, president of the Latvian Sommelier Association: "Tomson's historic victory officially places Latvia in the status of a wine superpower, like, for example, France, Italy, Spain or Scandinavian countries, which usually dominate sommelier championships and Michelin guides. We are sure that the world champion title can give the Latvian hospitality and wine serving industry a significant development boost. We are already working with the colleagues of the association to, for example, bring the World Sommelier Championship to Latvia in the future!"
The Latvian Sommelier aAssociation has also turned to the Cabinet of Ministers, with a request to award the world champion a cash prize for outstanding achievements and contribution to the promotion of the country. Similar to the success of leading Latvian athletes and cultural representatives, which have received financial awards from Latvian government before, Tomson’s success has received wide coverage in international mass media. The Latvian Sommelier Association believes that the prize money would be an invaluable incentive to continue the work of strengthening Latvia's place on the world map of gourmet and wine culture, and that the first step in achieving the goal would be entering a bid to win the right to organize the World Sommelier Championship in Riga, Latvia.
About Raimonds Tomsons: The winner of the 2023 ASI World Sommelier Association World Champion title is also the winner of the 2017 European Sommelier Champion title. Raimonds is the sommelier of the Barents restaurant, one of the leading Baltic restaurants, and the head of the Barents Wine Collectors wine program. He previously was at Vincents restaurant, and in 2019 he won the high 3rd position at the World Sommelier Championship in Belgium. He was the president of the Latvian Sommelier Association, a three-time winner of the Latvian and Baltic sommelier championship, and in 2011 he won the prestigious European sommelier competition "Sommelier Trophee de Champagne". Jury member of the "Latvian Wine of the Year" competition since 2014. Tomsons obtained the WSET Diploma the Austrian Wine Academy.
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