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This past week the 8th annual Starchefs international congress was held in New York which was a three-day food and spirits expo featuring demonstrations, seminars and new food products. And of course, wine. One of the events at the Expo was the Somm Slam which was a Sommelier competition. I was lucky enough to attend as one of the judges on Sunday. There were twelve Sommelier in attendance with some local favorites as well as few out of towners and a Somm from Mexico. The group of Somms were split into two groups of six, and each group (and the judges) were given two different cheeses (from Murray’s Cheese)to taste. The Somms were to go to a table which was stocked with various bottles of wine and they were to pick a wine they believed would go well with the cheeses. The two groups took wildly different approaches to picking what they thought was an appropriate wine.

The first group picked all red wines including the 2011 Damilano Barbera D’Asti, the 2008 Produttori del Barberesco Barberesco, the 2008 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino, the 2012 Leyda Las Brisas, and the 2008 Produttori del Barberesco “Rio Sordo” Barberesco Riserva. In my opinion, in the first group I thought the 2009 Damilano Barolo “Cannubi” picked by Somm Erin Scala paired best with the cheeses.

The second group picked five whites and one rose, the 2012 Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc, the 2011 Concha y Toro “Amelia”, the 2012 Vadio Bairrada, the 2012 Domaine les Hautes Cances “Cairanne”, and the 2012 Chateau Mourgues du Gres “Galets Dores Blanc. I thought that the 2011 Domaine de la Verriere “Chene Bleu” Rose picked by Somm Yannick Benjamin paired best with the cheeses.

It was an interesting competition.

After the judging I strolled around the event and sampled lots of ham, specifically cured hams from Spain, Italy and the U.S. And I hate to say this about my paisan but the other countries gave prosciutto a run for their money. That black-hoofed pig from Spain makes some mighty delicious ham. There was even a producer from West Virginia who aged his ham for four years and it was delicious. The Somm Bar keep the wine flowing by pouring wines from the Somm Slam competition as well as wines from PortugalVerdejo and Sagrantino.

Overall, it was an enjoyable Sunday afternoon.

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