Yesterday GFR’s Jamie Drummond sat down with each of the final competitors in CAPS 2012 competition to discover what was going on in their wine-ridden minds prior to the big day.
Good Food Revolution: So Sommeliers, how are you all feeling prior to The Battle Royale!
Véronique Rivest (Quebec): I’m okay… I’m trying not to think about it too much. Managing stress is such a big thing. Under stress even the best Sommelier can do the most stupid things. I feel good as I am with lots of lovely people… But I have to say that on the morning before I totally FREAK OUT. I love doing the preparation though.
Bertrand Eichel (Quebec): I feel very stressed… there is so much that you need to know, so one can never be fully ready. Even the practical aspect worries me as they could force anything upon you! As they say in French “You never know how they are going to eat you”
Élyse Lambert (Quebec): Pretty good as I have done my homework… but I am feeling under pressure for many reasons. It’s such a great competition with such great challengers.
Bruce Wallner MS (Ontario): Great! Super Positive! Although I do feel like a bit of an outside contender. My greatest concern is the written exam and doing that in French… I don’t find the tasting too hard, but the written exam…
Robert Noel (Eastern Canada): I get nervous when I look at the other competitors as I am the underdog from the Maritimes… but I am quietly confident and feel I will be in the final three. I think I can do that.
Will Predhomme (Ontario): I feel NIIIICE. Seriously though, I feel quite a bit of apprehension. I’m very, very excited as I am outside of my comfort zone. I guess I am a bit of a masochist as I like doing things that make me uncomfortable… so that they won’t make me feel that way in the future.
GFR: Going into this final, what do you feel are your greatest strengths?
VR: Well I have done this twice now… 2006 and 2012… in 2006 it was a huge surprise when I won… I think that it’s all about attitude. Even although I am bad under stress I think I have a very positive attitude. I love serving people, and so the service component comes naturally for me. Attitude, yes. Saying that, there are some people who have loads of great attitude but don’t know shit. If someone sees serving as being degrading then they are in the wrong job… Sommeliers are servers!
BE: Service is where I shine, but the theory worries me. I’m a bit young (30) and there is so much to still learn. The more competitions you do the better you get through that experience… there are many competitions in France, but not so many here… it’s good to practice.
EL: I work as a field worker on the ground… I work as a Sommelier on the floor.
BW: I’m in pretty good shape when it comes to tasting, although one cannot stay at the top of one’s tasting game for an extended time… it comes and goes… right now I am worried that I am just over the cusp. We’ll see…
RN: Tasting is my strongest suit. My wine instinct is very good.
WP: My positive outlook… it’s all very psychological you know.
GFR: And with the competition looming tomorrow, what do you feel are your weakness… your Achilles heel or heels?
VR: The sheer amount of knowledge you have to have is overwhelming… there is just so much! I’m naturally curious and love to learn, but I feel that you can never be prepared enough.
BE: If they give me a sparkling tasting… I find it so much more difficult than regular tasting. So much more difficult to understand.
EL: I’m a good generalist, but Germany… Germany is my weak spot… that and mastering a second language (English).
BW: I’m comfortable with the competition style, but the winelist correction is something I find tricky… oh… and Eastern Europe. Yikes.
RN: The theory… I run a business and I don’t always have time to sit down with my books and study… and they like to see just how geeky you are. You know sometimes at my restaurant I am worrying that we are not making enough money but then I realise that I have spent $2,000 on wine to practice tasting!
WP: LANGUAGE! I’m doing Spanish as my second language as I am a little better in Spanish than I am French.
GFR: And what advice would you like to pass on to your fellow competitors?
VR: Everyone has a fair chance. Try to be relaxed and have fun. Never stop learning… it’s a life long experience.
BE: I wish that we had more time to practice together!
EL: May the best Sommelier win! No matter how much you have prepared you do need a little bit of luck.
BW: Relax and enjoy yourselves… the Quebec girls are the Superpowers right now. Véronique has the most amazing energy and charisma, but I want her to relax as she still gets very nervous and anxious.
RN: All of this is about the journey, not the destination. Always have a planin life… think about the long term.
WP: Have fun as well. Just have a good time as you are doing it. Bonne Chance!
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And they are off!