The Argentine Association of Sommeliers held the ninth edition of their Best Sommelier in Argentina 2022 competition entirely in Mendoza, the country’s leading wine region, for the first time.
The 2022 edition of the competition, held to choose Argentina’s representatives at the next Concours ASI du Meilleur Sommelier du Monde 2023 (in Paris, France), attracted an unprecedented number of attendees: 200 sommeliers from across the country who came to Mendoza to get involved in a wide range of seminars, winery activities and a fair involving over 90 producers.
The event was made possible by the Argentina Viticultural Corporation (COVIAR), the Federal Investment Council (CFI), the Government of Mendoza’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Viticultural Fund, Wines of Argentina, Pro Mendoza and the Argentina Chamber of Wine Stores, in addition to private organizations such as Volf, Vinventions, Aqua Panna-San Pellegrino, Andesmar and Hon Travel.
Best Sommelier in Argentina 2022: the competition
Founded in 2001, the Argentine Association of Sommeliers (AAS) is a non-profit association and a member of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) who have been promoting the culture of wine and other drinks since 2002.
The national competition was held according to ASI rules and this year featured a jury of leading figures from Argentina and overseas, who judged 35 top sommeliers, breaking the record for entrants set in 2019.
The competition had two initial stages in which the contestants took a rigorous theory exam as well as a blind tasting of wine and other drinks, were tested on pairings, and practiced wine service.
The grand final was held on Saturday, November 26, at the Teatro Mendoza in front of 300 spectators.
The finalists Alma Cabral, Andrea Donadio and Delvis Huck underwent tasting tests and had to identify a series of whites and reds, before taking on the difficult challenge of suggesting wine pairings from a list containing errors, opening and decanting a special wine and cocktails, and taking on a marketing and communication challenge before finally being asked to identify a series of images of leading international wine figures, vineyard and winery landscapes, labels and winery facades.
After the jury tallied up each finalist’s scores and judged their performance on stage, Matías Prezioso and Valeria Mortara, President and Vice-President of the Argentine Association of Sommeliers, announced that the new Best Sommelier in Argentina 2022 is Andrea Donadio who will represent the country at the next world event in 2023 together with Valería Gamper, the Best Sommelier in Argentina in 2019 and the Best Sommelier of the Americas in 2022.
Andrea Donadio received her sommelier degree in 2011 from the Argentine Center of Wine and Spirits (CAVE) where she now teaches on the Gastronomic Appreciation Course. She also teaches Service and Drinks at the Argentine Institute of Gastronomy.
In addition, she has enjoyed a long career in the restaurant business, working at major restaurants such as Oporto Almacén and El Baqueano in addition to training with Martin Berasategui in the Basque Country in 2009 and at Michel et Sebastian Bras in Lagiole, France, in 2012.
In 2015, she was named a Certified Sommelier at the Court of Master Sommeliers and in 2019 got to the finals of the Competition, where she came in third.
Andrea Donadio is also a co-founder of Tinte Vinos, an Online Store and Gastronomic Consultancy business.
In Argentina, the field of sommellerie has grown notably in recent years and women have a significant presence. Eight of the nine national competitions held since 2002 were won by women and they account for 50% of all registered professionals and students.
“The Argentine sommellerie scene is very inspirational, with so many women in leading roles,” says Master of Wine Sarah Jane Evans, who was a juror for the final of this year’s Best Sommelier of Argentina competition and was also part of a panel discussing Women’s Leadership in the Wine World organized by Wines of Argentina.
The winner, Andrea Donadio, said, “Argentine women sommeliers work together and support one another to help each of us to become better and stronger, there’s a lot of professional and personal solidarity. It was a joy to share the final with colleagues of the caliber of Alma Cabral and Delvis Huck and it is a great honor to be representing Argentina at the next world cup together with Valeria Gamper”.