The beginning of a new year is always filled with reflection, resolutions and plans. An opportunity to aspire to more, to grow, to make dreams come true, and to remember and honor past accomplishments, in order to guide future action.
Indeed, remembrance and aspirations are guiding us as we begin a truly exceptional year for the worldwide ASI family. To begin with, more than sixty countries will be represented at the 16th edition of the Best Sommelier of the World competition, which will take place on March 10-15 in Antwerp, Belgium. This new record number of candidates shows the scope and depth of ASI’s global outreach, as our Association now represents tens of thousands of sommeliers on five continents.
October will see sommeliers of the world coming together again in the bubbly region of Champagne, in France. Beyond the General Assembly, the gathering is also the celebration of ASI’s 50th Anniversary, and we plan to commemorate it in style with tastings, master classes and, of course, a proper celebration with all the members of the ASI national sommelier associations who will be able to join us!
Much has happened since the national sommelier associations of Portugal, Belgium, Italy and France got together at the Piper-Heidsieck Champagne House in Reims to form the Association de la sommellerie internationale, very nearly fifty years ago. And it is these strong roots that allow our branches to reach ever higher towards the sky.
Throughout this long history, few sommeliers have reached as high as Gérard Basset, one of the most illustrious and respected members of our profession, and a real pillar of our association. Tributes have been pouring in from everywhere since his sudden departure, on January 16, showing how much he inspired just about everyone in the sommelier community. He was, in so many ways, the sommelier we’d all like to be: kind, generous, witty, talented, persevering, knowledgeable, humble… Our gratitude to him is as great as our sorrow.
ASI has persisted throughout the years based on the shared values of sommeliers in the wine and hospitality sector: hard work, solidarity, and the pursuit of excellence. It is the simple yet powerful ethics of our global community that inspire us, and that make the whole greater than the parts. Thinking of Gérard, and everything he did to make us all better, and bring us all together, is certainly a way to stay focused on these values and goals, throughout this momentous year.
May you have a fulfilling and prosperous 2019!
President of ASI