We have a Winner!- 2019 Somms Under Fire

{I was provided with a media pass for this event. Thoughts, opinions are my own.}

Each year, the number of events highlighting food and wine in Austin seems to grow exponentially. Each year, this is an event that stands out. As Devon Brogile and June Rodil explained and introduced the event, Rodil mentioned that there were 8 Master Sommeliers in attendance. That may not sound like a lot, but when you consider there are less than 300 in the world, you know you’re in good company You know you’re going to walk away having learned something about food and wine pairings.

Congratulations to Advance Sommelier Phil Laramore for shining bright last night and winning the 2019 Somms Under Fire. This is the eighth year of the competition presented by Keeper Collection. This year, Laramore competed against Certified Sommelier Dave Ruess and Advanced Sommelier Kathleen Thomas and stood out for his unique pairing choices.

He began the evening by winning the Amador Whiskey Cocktail competition with Bobby McGee Horses Neck-Amador Double Barrel Bourbon, ginger beer, simple syrup, apricot jam, jalapeño and cardamom.

Laramore then went on to choose the following pairings (taken from Pen & Tell Us press release):

  • First Course: 2016 Patz &Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, paired with dry aged Agaushi beef carpaccio with anchovies, salt brined Mustang grapes, and herbs, created by executive chef Ben Runkle of Salt & Time.
  • Second Course: Dassai 23 Sake, paired with spice crusted loin of lamb with fennel barigoule, apple butter, purple cabbage and crispy sunchokes prepared by sous chef, Ruston Richardson, of Trace Restaurant, W Hotel Austin.
  • Third Course: 2017 Cakebread Chardonnay paired with an assortment of three cheeses complements of Antonelli’s Cheese Shop.

Each course was delicious. This year, there were three additional wines to give them more of a selection. From the leftovers, the judges made a “Somms Choice.” While the wine wasn’t chosen by the competing somms, those I spoke with at my table and others was wooed by the versatility of William Chris’ Pet Nat. I thought it was great with each course. Yay, Texas Wine!

In addition to the judges choice, the audience votes for their favorite and Kathleen Thomas took home that title.  She received a  trip to study wines of South Africa provided by Broadbent Selections and  a spot in the Sommelier Internship at the 2019 TEXSOM Conference at the Four Seasons Resort & Club in Las Colinas, TX.

David Reuss won the Magnum of Excellence Award, which is given to the finalist that scored the highest on the qualifying examination, and received a magnum of Dessai 50 Sake, presented by Genji Sake.

There was one overall winner, but the truth is, everyone was a winner last night. Each Somm stood out in a competition. The audience for the food, wine, wisdom and the opportunity to attend. The evening was wonderful from start to finish and I am grateful for the opportunity to cover it. I am even more grateful for the time to get to know the women at my table, Writer Veronica Meewes, Kendall Antonelli of Antonelli’s Cheese and Katie Heisselberg of Jack of Spades Handmade Jewelry and reconnect with friends.

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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

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