SA Sommelier Awards winner announced

Cape Town – The first Gaggenau South Africa Sommelier Winner was announced last night after a two-day competition that saw contestants battle it out for the title.  . Joakim will be heading off to Beijing, China during October to compete in the International Gaggenau Sommelier Awards.

When asking Joakim what this opportunity means to him he commented that “it is a great privilege to be judged and scored so highly by your peers in the industry.”

The International Awards will see the South African Gaggenau Sommelier competing against other winners from Switzerland, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Sweden, France and the UK.

“This is definitely a highlight in the our calendar and we are honoured to be supporting the wine industry and trade in South Africa”, says Enrico Hoffmann, MD of Gaggenau South Africa. The astute panel of judges included Higgo Jacobs, Neil Grant, Michael Crossley and Jean-Pierre Rossouw.

“This is a fantastic initiative and SASA is grateful for the collaborative way in which corporate companies such as Gaggenau supports the industry” states Higgo Jacobs, Chairman of SASA. “It is due to these type of funded projects that young and upcoming Sommeliers can develop their skills and place South Africa on the world Sommelier map.”

Johannesburg-based, Wikus Human received second place.


Photo by Michelle Parkin

The five contestants of the 2018 Gaggenau Sommelier Awards battled it out on Wednesday in The Test Kitchen. Luke Dale Roberts specially attended this event showing his support towards the Industry and Gaggenau.

“This is definitely a highlight in the Gaggenau calendar and we are honoured to be supporting the wine industry and trade in South Africa”, Enrico Hoffmann, MD of Gaggenau South Africa.

“We are excited to see how contestants will fair on Day 2 and wish them the best of luck as they battle it out for the trophy and the opportunity to represent South Africa in Beijing during October this year”, says Elizabete Nelson, Communications Manager at GaggenauSouth Africa.

Contestants will take part in a series of competition elements today at the BSH Showroom in Bree Street, Cape Town.


Higgo Jacobs

The local judging panel includes Higgo Jacobs (Chairman: SASA), Neil Grant (co-founder and owner of Burrata, Bocca and Open Door restaurants), Michael Crossley (MD: The Reciprocal Wine Trading Company) and Jean-Pierre Rossouw (Publisher of Rossouw’s Restaurants and Platter’s South African Wine Guide).

“We are thrilled to announce a panel of judges that will put contestants through their paces as the winner will later have to undergo the pressures on an international scale when he or she compete in Beijing later this year”, says Elizabete Nelson, Gaggenau Communications Manager South Africa.

The first day of the competition will take place at South Africa’s number one restaurant, The Test Kitchen where contestants will have to pair food and wine in front of the judges.

Contestants will battle it out the next day at the BSH Brand Experience Centre in Bree Street through a series of competition elements that will include blind tastings, spot the mistakes on the wine list and a Fast and Furious question and answer round.

Gaggenau in association with SASA (South African Sommeliers Association) have selected the five young multi-talented sommelier finalists earlier this month. Finalists that will compete during next week are Juliet Urquhart, Wikus Human, James Mukosi, Pardon Taguzu and Joakim Hansi Blackadder.

The winner of the Sommeliers Awards will qualify for the International Gaggenau Sommelier Awards that will take place in Beijing, China during Autumn of 2018.


More about the judges:


MICHAEL CROSSLEY: Managing Director of The Reciprocal Wine Trading Company – South Africa’s oldest specialist fine wine importer, and a Director of Grand Cru Glassware, importers of Riedel stemware. Michael has a Diploma from the Cape Wine Academy and is a Distinction graduate of the Wine Judging Academy (in association with the Cape Town University Graduate school of business).

Project Manager of the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show – the most prestigious wine competition in South Africa. Previously a contributor to WINE magazine and a frequent tasting panelist for WINE and Classic WINE magazines.


NEIL GRANT: Neil Grant is the co-founder and owner of Burrata, Bocca and Open Door restaurants. Neil is one of South Africa’s finest wine experts and restaurateurs with a real passion for his profession.Neil returned to his native South Africa in 2006 after spending seven years in San Francisco, California. Once back in South Africa, Neil collaborated with chef David Higgs to create Rust en Vrede restaurant. Within three short years, Rust en Vrede was one of South Africa’s top restaurants winning a myriad of accolades including Best Chef, Best Service and Best Restaurant at the 2010 Eat Out Awards.

In 2010 Rust en Vrede was voted as the 61st best restaurant in the world by the San Pelligrino Worlds 50 best restaurant academy. In March 2012 Neil opened his first restaurant, Burrata, with business partner Barry Engelbrecht and then later opened two more restaurants, Bocca and Open Door Restaurant in 2014 and 2015 respectively.



Publisher of Rossouw’s Restaurants and Platter’s South African Wine Guide and has been a food and wine writer for over two decades, contributing to local and international titles. His wine book, Tasting the Cape, was published by Penguin. Founder of The Steakhouse Championships; he was also the South African restaurant judge for Great Wine Capital Best Of Wine Tourism and was also contributing editor to Phaidon’s Where to Eat Pizza.


HIGGO JACOBS: Higgo was constantly taking on wine roles with local vineyards, spending nine years on either side of the cellar door: first as cellar rat, then marketing and exports. Relocating to the UK in 2007, he cut his teeth on the wines of the world, working with highly respected importer – Anthony Byrne Fine Wines and later managing award winning wine merchant – ‘Jeroboams’ Notting Hill branch in London. While abroad, he studied with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and certified with the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Higgo returned to SA in 2008 into the role of resident Sommelier at Steenberg Hotel, after which he started consulting in the industry and is now working with various establishments on their wine programs. As a consultant to the industry he drives a variety of projects ranging from annual fine wine events to wine competitions and the Nederburg Auction, and he is often asked to represent South African wines on local and international platforms. Higgo is a senior judge at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) and Decanter World Wine Awards, and tastes for various local publications and competitions, some of which he chairs. He is also a founding member and current Chairman for the South African Sommelier Association (SASA) that does training and development for the profession in South Africa.