Smartypants Sommelier from Huntington Beach, Ian Cauble

Cooking, Restaurants, Wine By Jan 25, 2012

Great Somm: Yes, the first time I saw Ian Cauble he was running across his living room clad only in underpants.

OK, he was 3 at the time; I’d come to his parents’ Huntington Beach home to pick up his sister Amber for a play-date with my daughter.

He is shown above eating sushi with his parents at a Huntington Beach sushi bar. No, he didn’t eat the turtle.

Ian is now 31, and I am quite proud to say that  I knew him back when he didn’t know Pinot Noir from Pablum. Ian is the award-winning sommelier at The Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay.

And he has been kickin’ the heck out of the competition.

After an intense competition in Athens, Greece, the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s oldest gastronomic society based in Paris, France, awarded Ian First Place in its annual Young Sommelier Competition.

It was a heated contest, with young wine professionals representing nine countries, including the UK, Spain, Denmark, South Africa, Australia, Finland, and Russia. After 7 grueling hours, he prevailed with top honors.

He also has won the USA Champion TOP|SOMM award from the Guild of Sommeliers.

So proud of him. Yet when it came to the almost-impossible-to-pass Master Sommelier Diploma Examination, he came very close, but …. less than 200 worldwide have ever passed it, and he isn’t one of them  … yet.

Watch this trailer for the documentary that details Ian’s exam prep and trials (SOMM Documentary Trailer 1 from Forgotten Man Films on Vimeo)

Michael Jordan, MS, VP of Food & Beverage at THE RANCH, Anaheim, is the most respected wine educator in Orange County (and perhaps the entire USA). Several years ago he passed the exam in London and earned the title of Master Sommelier.

Part of the exam involves blind tastings in which several wines must be identified by grape varietal, vintage and country (or region or appellation). With the thousands of wines out there, it’s a mystery how anyone could accomplish such a feat.

Here’s what Jordan had to say about Ian:

It has been my great honor to get to know Ian Cauble as a friend and colleague. It’s just been an amazing experience to watch this man work so hard with determination rarely seen in any field toward his goal of passing the Master Sommelier Diploma Examination.

Ian has already achieved some of the greatest honors in the world of wine service highlighted by his great success in Greece.  I have seen Ian go through both moments of elation and great angst in his pursuit of this elusive and most difficult accreditation that in over 40 years – less than 200 people have passed – The Master Sommelier Examination.  If anyone can do it, it will be Ian.  His dedication, work ethic and relentless study are a shining beacon of desire for the achievement that many will point to as a role model for those that aspire to excellence in our industry.

I can’t wait to see Ian get that pin, the one that is gold and burgundy, and says Master Sommelier on it.  I am proud to know and work with a gentleman that is so dedicated to his craft. Cheers Ian!

Nice, very nice. I asked his dad, Dr. David Cauble, if he could remember Ian’s first childhood sip of wine?

I think it was Thanksgiving, he was maybe 9 or 10, and we opened a sparkling cider. He poured it into the glass and described the flavors. We were young hippie parents, not the kind of people that said alcohol was bad. We didn’t want them to go off to college and be the one holding their hair back at the toilet bowl.

Ah, the makings of greatness.

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