Finalists ‘Lily Bollinger of the Year’ 2024

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Champagne Club

Now the semifinals of this year’s Lily Bollinger Award have been decided. Those who advance to the final on September 23 and have the chance to win the prestigious title ‘Lily Bollinger of the Year 2024′. [read the full champagne story] 

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The semi-finals of this year’s Lily Bollinger Award have now been decided. Ellen Lindegren from Aira, Malin Vallin from Hunger & Törst and Julia Engström who is a sommelier student at Vinkällan will advance to the final on September 23, where they will settle for the title “Lily Bollinger of the Year”.

During the exciting semi-final of this year’s Lily Bollinger Award, ten female sommeliers competed against each other in three parts: blind tasting, theory and a practical part. Those who got the highest total points and advance to the final are Ellen Lindegren, Malin Vallin and Julia Engström.

We are very impressed by this year’s participants and their fantastic performances during the competition. They should all feel proud of how they handled the challenges they faced. The starting field was extremely strong and it was an exciting semi-final where our three finalists shone in both the theoretical and practical aspects’, says Tina Johansson, competition manager for the Lily Bollinger Award.

The Lily Bollinger Award

The Lily Bollinger Award was established in 2002 by Bollinger and Arvid Nordquist to stimulate female competitive sommeliers and to honor the memory of the legendary champagne widow Madame Lily Bollinger who for several decades competed on men’s terms to produce the world’s best champagne. The competition draws attention to Sweden’s knowledgeable female sommeliers who, like Lily Bollinger, operate in a male-dominated arena.

The Lily Bollinger Award was established by Arvid Nordquist and Champagne Bollinger 22 years ago to encourage female competitive sommeliers. The name honors the legendary champagne widow Lily Bollinger who for many decades was a brilliant ambassador not only for Bollinger but for the entire district. The competition has a high national status and the well-reputed title “Lily Bollinger of the Year” has meant a boost in the career of many Swedish female sommeliers.

The competition

  1. The day began with an extensive written blind test of a white, a red and a sweet wine. The contestants were to describe the appearance, aroma and taste of the wines in as much detail as possible, after which they were to draw conclusions about what was served in the glasses.
  2. In the theoretical part, the participants had to put together a three-course menu inspired by Italy for the three wines from the blind tasting.
  3. Correct a wine list full of mistakes and answer questions about wine regions and laws.
  4. The competition ended with the participants having to carry out a classic dining event in the form of aerating and serving a white wine from Bordeaux, as well as trying and identifying three different beers.

The finalists answered the question: How does it feel to be in the final?

‘It feels incredibly fun, above all that the time I put in and the commitment I have to the sommelier profession produce such concrete results. It’s always fun to challenge yourself to be better and I really think you do that in this competition.’

Ellen Lindegren from Nynäshamn
(current workplace: Aira, Stockholm)

‘Great and I’m very proud of myself! This is my second time competing in the Lily Bollinger Award and it’s always so much fun and exciting. Everyone supports each other – it’s an incredibly nice competition.’

Malin Vallin, from Kramfors
(current workplace: Hunger & Törst, Umeå)

‘Sick! I don’t work in the industry yet so came here mostly to challenge myself and learn more. It feels completely unreal, but I am very happy, of course!’

Julia Engström, från Stockholm
(Sommelierstudent på Vinkällan, Stockholm)

The final will be decided this autumn

On September 23, it’s time for the final at Tändstickspalatset in Stockholm. In addition to the glorious title “Lily Bollinger of the Year”, the winner receives an educational trip to the historic Bollinger champagne house as well as a Stålhästen bicycle that symbolizes how Lily Bollinger constantly guarded the vineyard on two wheels.

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