Yountville Takes Top Honors at U.S. Sommelier Championships

Matthew Stamp of The French Laundry named Top Sommelier; Jason Heller of REDD earns Best Young Sommelier title.

Matthew Stamp, sommelier at The French Laundry, in Yountville, was named 2010 Top Sommelier overall, while Jason Heller, of REDD, also in Yountville, earned the title Best Young (under 32) Sommelier, at the event, held Sunday evening at San Francisco’s trendy Hotel Monaco.

The two were among ten finalists of some 190 sommeliers from around the country who applied to the competition, explained Master

Sommelier Fred Dame, who served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies.The eight judges who chose the winners were Master Sommeliers, including Dame. “This contest was a blood match to the very end,” Dame noted.

Stamp received the Robert Mondavi Trophy, presented by Rich Arnold, Mondavi’s winemaker. Robert Mondavi Winery is a sponsor of the competition.

Tension at the award dinner was high as Dame announced the winners. “You’re seeing the best and brightest of the world of wine,” he said. Actual Master Sommeliers were discouraged from entering the contest. “This should be for people on the way up,” Dame explained. All of the contestants are studying for their M.S. title.

Third place went to Michael Meagher, Chairman of the Boston Sommelier Society. Each of the top three winners received a $1,000 scholarship.

The other sommeliers among the top ten were Yannick Benjamin (Le Duc, New York), Chris Dillman (Sage American Bistro, Columbus OH), Inez Ribustello (On the Square, Tarboro NC), Dustin Wilson (The Little Nell, Aspen CO), Ian Cauble (The Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay CA), Eric Hastings (Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Houston TX) and Brian McClintic (Montagna, Aspen CO).

ALSO SEE: Top Sommeliers on What’s Hot Now to see the contestants’ picks for today’s most in-demand wines, spirits and cocktails.

Published on August 4, 2010