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All-star judging line up for Copa Jerez 2021 revealed

Published:  16 March, 2021

Sherry’s flagship culinary competition has announced the judges for this year’s edition, with Sarah Jane Evans MW, Matthieu Longuere MS, and Anna Haugh all due to appear in this year’s prestigious hot seat.

The bi-annual Copa Jerez 2021 competition, which showcases the versatility of Sherry wines and is being backed by Harpers, will see the three judges come together to identify the UK’s leading Sherry-inspired sommelier and chef teams.

Now in its ninth year and organised by Sherry Wines, chefs and sommeliers at restaurants across the UK are being tasked with creating an inventive Sherry-themed menu that will catch the judges’ attention.

The only proviso is that Sherry must feature as the paired wine for each course and as an ingredient in at least one course, though past contestants have taken the theme much further.

The UK finals will take place at Cord Restaurant by Le Cordon Bleu in Central London on Monday 17 May, where teams will compete against each other with their Sherry-inspired menu in front of the panel of judges.

Chair of the event, Sarah Jane Evans MW, said: “One of the pleasures of the international final is the way it celebrates the diversity of Sherry. Whatever the course, or ingredient, there’s a Sherry style to match. Copa Jerez acts like a reset or jump-start: it’s a whole new way of looking at the wine, and raises the game.”

After the regional heats, the international final will then take place in the heart of the “glorious old city of Jerez”, Evans added.

“This means there’s the chance to visit a bodega and enjoy a tapa with a glass of Sherry in between the hard work. As such it has to be the most fun destination of any sommelier competition.”

This year’s competition is being backed by Harpers, which is proud to support this search for the best Sherry and food pairing menu while also highlighting some of the UK’s top gastronomic stars.

International chair-judge César Saldaña, president of the Consejo Regulador de Jerez y Sanlúcar de Barrameda, said: “Gastronomy in the UK today represents some of the most exciting in the world, which is why each year we receive entries from some outstanding restaurants, many of Michelin star quality. This year we are searching for the UK team who can go forward to the international final later this year to compete with top chefs and sommeliers from seven other countries and triumph to bring home the trophy for the UK. It is a serious competition but we know the UK has a competitive streak and can rise to the challenge.”

Evans, a wine writer, author and Master of Wine is a renowned Sherry expert. Joining her on the judges panel will be Matthieu Longuere MS, wine director at Le Cordon Bleu London and a Master Sommelier who will be the sommelier judge. Last but not least is Anna Haugh, owner of Myrtle Restaurant in London, who is a previous contestant of Copa Jerez UK.

The international champions in 2019 were from Danish Restaurant Clou, with sommelier Jonathan K Bernsten and chef Martin G Sørensen taking the top spot. No fewer than eight Michelin stars competed in the spectacular live cooking event in which seven international teams presented their menus paired with Sherry.

The winners of the UK final will receive a £500 prize and an all-expenses paid trip to Jerez to compete in the international final against other competing teams from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, the United States and Spain.

Full details of Copa Jerez can be found here. The closing date for UK entries is Friday 30 April. Join the conversation: @SherryWinesUK #copajerezUK.