Mortimer Bester, a 24-year-old sommelier at Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa on South Africa’s famed Garden Route, has won the Chaîne de Rôtisseurs’ Jeunes (Young) Regional Sommeliers competition and will represent South Africa at the finals in the United Kingdom this September. Born and raised in Knysna, Bester, who was also named Best Wine Steward in South Africa in last year’s Diners Club International Wine List national awards, had never tasted wine when he joined Pezula as a waiter in 2005.
Bester was the regional winner of the Chaîne de Rôtisseurs’ Jeunes Sommeliers competition last year. His high score on the final examination, which included blind tastings of wines from all over the world, secured his spot in the global finals.
Werner Wentzel, Pezula’s F&B Manager and Wine Director, who has mentored Mortimer for the past four years, says that once he started attending Pezula’s in-house tasting sessions, his passion for and knowledge about wine began to grow so quickly that he was promoted to Sommelier in 2007.
“In all my years in the industry, I have not come across anyone with more passion for wine. Mortimer has amassed an incredible amount of knowledge in a very short space of time,” says Wentzel. “He has hosted wine-tastings for guests at Pezula with wonderful results and his name appears more regularly than any other on our guest comment forms. He is an inspiration to all young South Africans.”
The 2009 International Jeunes Sommeliers final takes place on September 25th in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the bailliage of Great Britain.