Organized every three years by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI), during this event candidates showcase their talent by way of three challenges: a written exam, a wine service event (served to the judges), and a blind taste test. Competitors are then evaluated on their knowledge of beer, spirits, saké, tea and coffee. Finally, on the last day of the competition, the top three candidates are put to the ultimate test and the winner is crowned.
Quebec has never been short on talent when it comes to wine and gastronomy experts. World-class sommeliers Pier-Alexis Soulière and Carl Villeneuve Lepage will proudly represent La Belle Province during the March competition in Belgium. The two are gearing up to battle it out against some of the best sommeliers in the world, and are hoping to bring home top honours. If they succeed, it wouldn’t be the first time Quebec talent has stood out: in 2013 Véronique Rivest came in second at the competition in Japan in 2013, and in 2016, Élyse Lambert came in fifth in Argentina.
Carl Villeneuve Lepage
A graduate of l’Institut du Tourisme et d’Hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ), where he studied food service, sommelier AVS, and sensory analysis of wines from around the world, Carl Villeneuve Lepage has been sommelier at Toqué! restaurant for the past five years. Although he remains passionate about working at the finest gastronomic institutions throughout Canada, his competitive drive pushes him to participate in a wide variety of contests. In 2014 he came in first place at the Meilleur sommelier du Québec competition, and in 2017 he took home top honours at the Best Sommelier of Canada competition. He was also a finalist at the 2018 Best Sommelier of the Americas. Villeneuve Lepage’s desire to constantly fine-tune and perfect his art has led him to pursue further education, by completing a certificate in oenology with Suze la Rousse’s Université du Vin, and by completing the third level (Advanced Sommelier) at the 2015 Court of Master Sommelier.
Pier-Alexis Soulière began his career as a sommelier right here in Montreal, but has worked for prestigious establishments across three different continents over the years. From London, to New York, to Sydney, Soulière has had the privilege of working for several Michelin-starred restaurants, including Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, The Modern, and Manresa Restaurant. In 2014, he took home first place at the Concours International des Jeunes Sommeliers, which was held in Copenhagen. In 2016, he became one of few under-30 sommeliers to be awarded the title of Master sommelier. Only 249 individuals across the world have ever been awarded that title, including 5 in Canada and 2 right here in Quebec! In 2017, Soulière was named Meilleur sommelier du Québec by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, in addition to being crowned Best Sommelier of the Americas by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale in May 2018. Today, he is sommelier at La Chronique in Montreal.
Want to watch these two world-class sommeliers go head to head during a blind taste test? Visit the SAQ’s Facebook page on Thursday, February 21st at 11 a.m. for a live broadcast. Don’t miss this friendly yet sophisticated competition!
To learn more about the Best Sommelier of the World competition: https://bestworldsomm.com/