The 2014 "Battle of the Sommeliers" featured five sommeliers (wine experts), who competed for best pairing of French wine with their specific course (an appetizer course, three dinner courses and a dessert course), and the audience got to be the judge. A brief description of each of the "sommelier contestants" is below. We also had a tempting array of silent and a few live auction items for the attendee's bidding pleasure.
This year's dinner raised over $40,000 for Cook Children's Medical Center's ongoing hematology/oncology research initiatives. Together with our previous wine dinners that raised over $110,000 dollars (those dollars went directly to help build the MIBG room at Cook Children’s Medical Center along with other pediatric cancer research initiatives), we have now raised over $150,000 to help find cures for pediatric cancer. Words can’t describe what this lifesaving technology means to the hundreds of children that will now not only have access to the MIBG room (the only room of its kind in the southwest region, please see two videos about the new MIBG room, the videos are under the MIBG tab) but will also benefit from other lifesaving research initiatives of this NANT (New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy) facility.
Battle of the Sommeliers Contestants
Graileys Fine Wines
Ryan Tedder is from Arkansas and has had several years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality side of the wine world. He was the sommelier at Dallas’ Stephan Pyles, Fort Worth’s Grace Restaurant for 4 years, and most recently at Dallas' Best Restaurant 2012, FT-33. During this journey he has been exposed to the highest level of dining and pairing possibilities having executed more than 50 wine dinners and 120 tasting menus. Ryan has earned praise from Food & Wine with a "Top 100 Wine List in America 2013" and the Wine Spectator receiving the “Best of Award of Excellence” in 2011-2012 – only one of nineteen awarded in Texas. Most recently, he received TexSom’s “Texas’ Best Sommelier 2012” award. Ryan is an Advanced Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers and a Certified Specialist of Wine. He brings a personal, passionate and educational touch to the world of wine and is pursuing his Master Sommelier designation.
Jason Hisaw, Advanced Sommelier and former sommelier for Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. A native of Chicago, Illinois, Jason has been in Texas since 2007. He is a graduate of University of Nevada Las Vegas and began his career for Chef Jean Joho at Eiffel Tower Restaurant at the Paris Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Jason is an active member of the Texas Sommelier Conference and has participated in every event since 2007. He is a wine writer for escapehatchdallas.com and is a regular guest speaker at Deloitte University in Westlake, TX.
Dallas Sommelier Society
President of the Dallas Sommelier Society since its start, Brian is an active member of the local wine scene on every level. Hailing from Louisiana with a rich past of in Physics (achieving his doctorate) and Software Design, Brian has set his sights on wine enrichment over the last number of years for the betterment of all who love wine. He is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. He is currently pursuing his Master Sommelier designation and WSET diploma. Brian has built an organization of young and old wine professionals and enthusiasts alike for group education, wine events, professional growth and wine appreciation. From its founding 3 members to a group that numbers in the hundreds now, the Dallas Sommelier Society has set a national standard for wine organizations that has a bright future. He also volunteers his services at wine events like Texsom, The Dallas Morning News Wine Competition, The Lone Star International Wine Competition and Cotes du Coeur.
Hear Hear Wines
Michael Pennington, a Fort Worth native, was in the local fine dining and hospitality industry for almost 20 years. He has been on the staff at Del Frisco's, Mira Vista Golf Club, Grace, and most recently "DFW's Best Restaurant of the Year" FT33 in Dallas. With an interest in grape growing and the Texas wine industry he began his studies at the T.V. Munson School of Viticulture and Oenology in Denison, TX. An opportunity to assist in planting a vineyard took him to the Columbia Gorge AVA in Washington state. That, in turn, led to winemaking experiences at Syncline Wine Cellars and also Wind River Cellars, where he was an assistant winemaker and produced his first wine label. Expanding his knowledge of Pacific Northwest wines allowed him to be chosen to be a judge at the 2012 Northwest Wine Summit.
Founder and Vintner, Montagu Wines
Weston Eidson, vintner and founder of Montagu Wines, has had a lifetime enthusiasm for wine. Weston is a graduate of T.C.U. where he studied marketing, economics, and political science. He then attended Chicago-Kent College of Law and is a member of the Illinois Bar. After moving back to his home state of Texas, Weston was inspired to create his own wine label after working with Napa winemaker Jason Moore from Modus Operandi Cellars. Crafting single vineyard Chardonnay from the Linda Vista Vineyard in Oak Knoll managed by Steve Matthiasson, a Pinot Noir from the famed Bacigalupi Vineyard in the Russian River Valley and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Beckstoffer’s Georges III Vineyard in Rutherford, Weston focuses on the micro-terroir of these world-class sites. Also performing as Cellarmaster for the local chapter of the Confrerie St. Etienne, Weston is charged with the purchasing and pairing of wine for each dinner. He is also serves on the board of the Austin chapter of the International Wine & Food Society.