One of two Argentine sommeliers who will compete in the A.S.I. Concours du Meilleur Sommelier du Monde (A.S.I. Contest of the Best Sommelier of the World), we meet Martín Bruno, sommelier at top Buenos Aires restaurant Tegui, in part four of The Real Argentina’s somms series. Martín spills the beans on how he’s been diligently preparing for this prestigious competition, which is being held in Mendoza for the first time on 15-20 April 2016.
While he originally worked in spirits, time spent living in New Zealand in his 20s led to Martín embarking on a full-time affair with wine. On returning to Buenos Aires, he worked as a sommelier at Hotel Fierro and Florería Atlántico before undertaking a placement at three Michelin starred restaurant Bras in Laguiole, France. And, working abroad meant he was able to take advantage of touching terroir that’s home to some of the world’s most exciting wine-producing regions such as Central Otago, Burgundy, Alsace and Champagne.
He says: “I started out as a bartender for cantinero Fede Cuco. Then I lived in Queenstown, New Zealand, for two years and tended bar at the Boardwalk Seafood Restaurant. It had a very good wine list and that’s where I really got into wine. I decided to become a sommelier because first, I really like wine and second, it´s a great way to relate with a lot of awesome people.”
After coming second in Argentina’s own best sommelier contest in 2014, Martín was given the green qualification light to represent his country in the APAS Best Sommelier of the Americas cup in Santiago, Chile, in 2015. There, he ranked an extremely respectable seventh in what was only his second competition ever. And, given that colleague and fellow countrywoman Paz Levinson took the continent’s top spot in that contest, her victory also secured an unexpected bonus for Martín, allowing him to then qualify for the world championship that takes place on home turf this month.
Martín says: “The A.S.I. Contest of the Best Sommelier of the World is going to be a great opportunity to meet the top sommeliers from 60 different countries, as well as sharing this competition alongside activities in Mendoza. It’s also of great personal pride for me to be representing Argentina along with Paz, as is the fact that Mendoza is hosting the competition.”
Besides holding down a demanding full-time job in charge of the cellar and service at Argentina’s top restaurant according to Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015 list and teaching at CAVE wine school, Martín has been dedicating his spare time to an intense tasting and study programme in order to hold his own among the world’s best sommeliers.
The CAVE alumnus says: “I started training months ago and it involves everything related to wine… studying geography, legislation, grape varietals and genetic parentage, viticultural and oenological theory, blind tastings, spirits recognition, service tests such as decanting, sparkling wine service and so on. It’s everything related to wine, spirits and gastronomy in general.
“I’ve discovered on this latest journey that even if preparing for the contest is stressful, I do enjoy the training involved, and that there’s always room for improvement, even when you think that you couldn’t do it any better.”
Although some of his favourite wines come from Germany’s Mosel and Rheingau regions, he’ll stay close to home should he take the title of world’s best sommelier. Martín adds: “I don’t like to think about that but in case I do, I think I’d celebrate with Argentine wine.”
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