The SOMM Journal

February/March 2015

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Page 87 of 92

{ }  87 Michele Fano, Wine Director for La Toque in Yountville, was selected as Top Taster, winning two tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S. from Delta Air Lines and a cash prize from The SOMM Journal. The crowd consisted of more than 200 trade and wine-loving consumers, who bought tickets to this sold-out event at the Meritage Hotel and Resort in Napa. The glasses were provided by The One Stemware by Andrea Robinson, MS, pictured here. "WHAT DO YOU SMELL? IS IT FLORAL OR FRUITY?" Tammy Wisnoskie, Wine Educator at Napa's General Store, leads a group in a blind tasting while nine of her Certified Somm colleagues assist their own teams in figuring out the mysteries of the six wines before them. For the fourth year, Andrea Immer Robinson, MS is hosting the trademarked Top Taster competition, her signature event sponsored by Delta Air Lines and The SOMM Journal, which pits sommeliers against one another in a blind battle of the nose and palate. The event occurs smack dab in the middle of the busy Flavor! Napa Valley extravaganza—also in its fourth year. "Our distinguished panel of Master Sommeliers coach the über somms— perhaps the future crop of Masters—who in turn coach the crowd," says Immer Robinson. The Coaches The team of ten Certified Sommeliers: Scott Barber, Director of Education for Gregory Condes Wines; Kristina Fischer, Wine Director at City Winery; Jake Krausz of Arkenstone Vineyards; Rebecca Miller, Wine Director for The Sea (by Alexander's Steakhouse) in Palo Alto; Rendall V. Thomas of Robert Mondavi Winery; Tammy Wisnoskie, Wine Educator at Napa General Store; Gordana Josovic, Wine Director at Epic Roasthouse in San Francisco; Peter Estrada, Wine Director for Goose & Gander in St. Helena; Ron Plunkett, Wine Director at Ame restaurant at the St. Regis, San Francisco; and the event top prize winner Michele Fano, Wine Director at La Toque in Yountville. "The beauty of this event," stated Bob Bath, MS, Wine Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Napa Valley, "is that it also gives consumers a chance to learn to taste wine the 'right way'—that is, from the professional's standpoint—in a very short period of time. They're not just guessing; they're becoming better tasters and identifying what they like in a wine. This is not a win-or-lose scenario for them, but instead, opening up an entirely new perspective." Jay James, Master Sommelier and National Sales Director for Chappellet, added with a sly smile, "At the same time, we also look forward to embar- rassing some of these über somms! But seriously, I do love sharing some of the secrets of the ar t of wine tasting with our large group today." Meridith May, Publisher and Editorial Director of The SOMM Journal (center), which was a sponsor of the event's trademarked Top Taster event. She is pictured here with Master Sommeliers Jay James of Chappellet and Emily Papach of Jackson Family Wines; Andrea Immer Robinson, the event's host and organizer and Bob Bath, Wine Instructor at the Culinary Institute at Greystone/Napa.

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