Antoine Lehebel is the professional sommelier who will represent Belgium at the global Sommelier world championship. The competition will be held in Antwerp and will last from Monday to Friday. 66 Sommeliers from 63 different countries have signed up for the triennial competition.
It will be held at the Elisabeth centre and William Wouters will co-preside. Mr Wouters was named Premier Sommelier for Belgium (Prosper Montagné prize) in 1992 when he was working at the Carême family restaurant in Kontich.
The 60 countries who are members of the international association each send a candidate. The other three in the group are the three winners of the continental competitions, in Europe, Asia-Oceania and America respectively.
Antoine Lehebel has made into the final ten of the Belgian Sommelier championships in the past and won in 2014. “He has already competed in both the European and global championships, back in 2016. He is ready for this and we hope to see him get to the semi-final”, William Wouters said back in November. Mr Wouters is the vice-President of the International Sommelier’s Association (ASI).
Mr Lehebel is 36 years old and he was coached by Aristide Spiers (third in the 2013 global championships and winner of 2013 Belgian championship). He will present bottles of “Bon Bon” when he goes to Woluwe-Saint-Pierre.
The quarter finals will be on Monday and Tuesday. There will be technical and practical tests. The semi-finals will be on Wednesday, when there will be 18 candidates still left in the competition. Friday’s final will take place from 1.30pm to 6pm. Only the last three candidates will take part in the final. It will include a blind taste test, a table service, correction of a wine menu and theory questions on practices in other countries.
The first edition of the global Sommelier championships happened nearly 50 years ago in Brussels. The most recent was in Mendoza (Argentina) three years ago, which was won by Swedish competitor Jon Arvid Rosengren. The best Belgian result in this competition was in 1989, when Marc Wattiez (“Les Ramiers” in Crupet) came second