The 2018 European Champagne Ambassadors’ Competition awarded German competitor Stefan Metzner as this year’s winner at the celebratory gala dinner on Thursday November 9th, 2017.

The award, launched by the Comité Champagne in 2005, was created to recognize and reward the work of wine educators across Europe. This year’s theme for the competition was ‘The Role of Dosage and Disgorgement in Champagne Winemaking’, and contestants were judged on their knowledge, communication skills and ability to bring the subject to life. Nine finalists from the national selection process delivered a Champagne lesson to judges from the nine competing countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The runner up was Belgian competitor, Kristel Balcaen, while the Italian representative, Pietro Palma, received the judges’ special prize.

The UK representative was the experienced wine educator and Chairman of the Association of Wine Educators, Heather Dougherty. She progressed to the European Finals after successfully presenting a mock Champagne lesson in front of four judges in the UK National Finals on September 25th, 2017 in London. Competing for the UK Champagne Ambassador position proved challenging, with two other strong contenders – Victoria Daskal, The World of Fine Wine Managing Editor, and Lauren Denyer, WSET Wines & Spirits Level 1-3 instructor.

After winning the position of UK Champagne Ambassador, Dougherty commented, “A real mixture of elation, relief, and then a dawning realization that now I am going on to represent the UK in the European finals. Winning the UK final was a great feeling, but it's really a stepping stone onto the big one.”

Heather Dougherty in the UK National Final, September 25th, 2017

Daskal commented on her highlights from competing in the National Final, “The preparation was a very positive experience that connected me with a lot wonderful people. Everyone was happy to help in their own way – from past winners, to Champagne experts, colleagues, and wine friends, they all gave great advice, shared their knowledge, and listened to me practice.

“I learned a lot about Champagne in the lead up, and even more on the day thanks to the presentation and the brilliant Champagne selection we enjoyed at the celebration lunch afterwards [at two Michelin star restaurant, The Greenhouse]. Spending time with the judges afterwards was also a highlight. They shared their personal Champagne experiences and expertise with us.”

The UK has won the European Champagne Ambassador award twice and runner up position four times in the competition’s 12-year history.

As European winner for 2018, Metzner will receive a trophy, winner’s certificate, a silver Champagne bucket, three magnums of Champagne, and 18 bottles of Champagne.

From left: Kristel Balcaen (Belgium), 2018 winner Stefan Metzner (Germany), Pietro Palma (Italy)