Little Nell to host master sommelier exam

By Real Aspen
April 23, 2012
The Court of Master Sommeliers is holding its Master Sommelier Exam at The Little Nell in Aspen this May. The exam, dubbed “the hardest test in the world,” has a pass rate of approximately 10 percent and is being held for the first time in Colorado.

“There are only 118 master sommeliers in North America, and eight of them have worked or do work at The Little Nell,” said Jay Fletcher, chairman emeritus of the Court of Master Sommeliers. “The Little Nell has had more masters come through its wine program than any other establishment in the country. It’s the perfect place to hold this exam and see who the next masters will be.”

Fletcher said in addition to the Aspen location, The Little Nell was chosen for the exam because of its success in administering the Advanced Sommelier Exam in the past, its high service standards and professionalism.

Little Nell Food and Beverage Director Sabato Sagaria and Assistant Wine Director Carlton McCoy will both sit for the exam in Aspen with 50 candidates from around North America, all of whom have been invited to participate.

The test consists of three parts: service, tasting and theory. Service questions could include pairing food and wine, proper decanting and more. Tasting involves six wines with 25 minutes to identify grape varieties, country of origin, district and appellation of origin and vintages of the wines tasted. Finally, theory poses 150 verbal questions on everything from wine laws around the world to beer making techniques.

“I’m excited to welcome 25 fellow master sommeliers to The Little Nell as they help administer the exam,” said current Little Nell Wine Director and Master Sommelier Jonathan Pullis. “During the exam, there will be more master sommeliers in Aspen than there have ever been at one time.”

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