The World’s Best Sommelier of 2023 – Raimonds Tomsons
20th March 2023
On 12 February 2023, Latvia’s Raimonds Tomsons was named winner of the ASI (Association de la Sommellerie Internationale) Best Sommelier of the World contest held at La Defense Arena, near Paris.
It took him many years of very hard work to finally achieve his goal. A person from a country with just around 30 years of wine culture, became the World’s Best Sommelier.
Raimonds kindly agreed to share some of his sparkling wine experience with Glass of Bubbly readers.
1. Do you remember your first experience with sparkling wine? When it was and what kind of wine it was?
“Well, I have to admit that it was Rīgas Šampanietis – a “famous” Latvian Sparkling wine. Not the worst example but also nothing to be proud of. It was really popular in the 1990s and still is today. However, my palate has changed and I have moved to Champagne and other more decent examples.”
2. Nowadays, almost all wine countries make sparkling wine. Do you have your favorites or preferred regions?
“I have to admit my love for Austrian sparkling wines because I think they really have great potential, terroir, varieties and a plethora of skilled and passionate winemakers but, of course, nowadays you really can drink decent sparkling wines globally.”
3. I still remember very well our first meeting in 1997. You were flying between tables with bottles of Deutz Champagne in your hands and serving it by the glass to guests at the best restaurant in Riga at that time. What kind of bubbles do you serve by the glass at the moment?
“We are really privileged to do our own wine imports for our restaurant (Barents) and also our sparkling wines reflect the philosophy of our cuisine, so, we mostly concentrate on cool climate wines & bubbles. We have mostly Champagne and Austrian Sekt but we are looking to add Corpinat, German Sekt and with time a UK sparkling wine, hopefully. Now we serve BTG Tarlant Brut Zero NV, Larmandier Bernier Latitude Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut NV and Krug Grande Cuvée.”
4. Have you had any curious situations with sparkling wine in your sommelier career?
“Yes! It was in Riga 4-6 years back. A friend of mine asked me to taste some local sparkling wines from an enthusiastic wine producer who, actually, is a journalist in one of the most famous local TV programs. So, he served a rose sparkling wine made according to the traditional sparkling method (2-3 years on lees) – it was great, indeed, especially when you think it was made in Latvia. Well, it turned out to be a cranberry sparkling wine! Now the brand is called Northern Bubbles and it is served in a few restaurants in Riga!”
5. Most impressive sparkling wine tasting in your life. When and where it happened?
“Actually, in Riga during Riga Wine & Champagne festival and gala dinners. There are a lot of great bottles served and brought because wine lovers in Riga are especially keen on Champagne. Probably one of the greatest bottles I had was Bollinger VVF 1996, Rare 1976, and Krug Clos du Mesnil 2002 (Magnum) to mention just a few.”
6. In one of your interviews, you said that you do not collect wines except some bottles of Champagne. Have you changed your mind from that time?
“Still the same approach – I enjoy great wines daily, especially in these turbulent and dynamic times. Live and enjoy your life NOW!”
7. What is your top food and sparkling wine match?
“1996 Dom Pérignon with a Bresse Chicken served with a morel mushroom Velouté and loads of black truffle.”
8. How do you see the future of sparkling wines? Can we expect new trends in international markets?
“Champagne will lead the way, I am quite sure but there are great sparkling wines produced globally. I would keep an eye on UK sparkling wines (if the price will stay reasonable) and Corpinat, Austria’s and German sparkling wines and I heard a lot of positive reviews on Tasmania’s sparkling wine scene, but, I have never tried one! I hope to change that soon!”
Thank you very much.
Picture Crédit : ASI/HRVprod
Learning and discovering Champagne wines since 1998. She is currently a still and sparkling wine lector and consultant, journalist (member of the International Wine Journalist Association (FIJEV) and Circle of Wine Writers (CWW) Champagne Master (Wine Scholar Guild) WSET Level 3