By Quentin Marais
One step from the title! Philip Carragoso, wine merchant in a Nicolas store in Toulouse, is in the final of a contest that can make him become French champion in its category. See you on October 17, 2022 in Avignon… after years of passion, and a disputed semi-final.
A great passion for wine
Originally from the Bordeaux basin, Philippe Carragoso arrived in Toulouse in 2009, the year that saw him take over the Nicolas store, place Victor-Hugo. “I’ve worked in a few starred establishments, I come from the restaurant and sommelier backgrounds. I discovered the wine merchant environment in the Paris region twenty years ago, he comments. I’ve always had this passion for winediscovering new products, sharing, advice…”
his store where Since describes no less than 10,140 bottles, Philippe Carragoso “takes care of the range selections for the entire South-West and Languedoc-Roussillon. I am in regular contact with many winegrowers. I favor everything that can be had in Occitania, on Fronton, Gaillac, in the Gers… We also have a lot of producers around Carcassonne, Limoux and the Minervois”. As for the Nicolas company, it is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. And the Toulouse wine merchant has embarked on the conquest of a title as a candle.
On the way to the contest
The fifth edition of the competition organized by the Syndicate of Professional Cellars, bringing together nearly 1,800 cellars in France, initially brought together nearly 400 candidates. To access the last four, the Girondin by birth had to work on ” 70 questions which covered everything related to our business. We had 60 minutes to respond. With 41 other competitors, including seven from Maison Nicolas, Philippe Carragoso obtained the right to play in the semi-final on Monday September 12, 2022, at Belgrave Castle, Located in Saint-Laurent-Médoc, in Gironde.
“It was in two parts. First there was a 60-minute knowledge MCQ. It was very difficult. Then we had a blind tasting of three products, with written commentary. We came across a Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2021 from Laudun, which I had the chance to discover. We then had an Argentinian Malbec red. On this one, I missed out… And in the end, we had an Italian liqueur, Fernet Branca, which I found. I pretty much passed my tasting!”
From this semi-final, Philippe Carragoso remembers the chance of having been able “to meet, meet and swap with other colleagues. There were a lot of independent wine merchants. If he did not hide his “surprise” when he learned of his qualification for the final, the Toulousain relished. ” I am relieved, happy, then fierce to be there! It’s a competition that I do to challenge myself, get back into the books and confront my colleagues. It’s interesting. »
Five events for a title
The grand finale will take place in Avignon on Monday October 17, 2022. But it will start a little earlier. “There will be five trials, and the first will be a mystery visitwith a hidden camera, which will allow us to judge the state and management of our shop, the reception of customers and our day-to-day wine merchant profession”, announces Philippe Carragoso.
Once they have arrived in Vaucluse, the eight finalists will then have to answer “to 40 very specific questions. We will then have a blind tasting of 5 products, which we will have to comment on in front of the jury and the public. Next, the jury selected a product that we will have to present : we will have 5 minutes of preparation, and 5 of presentation. Finally, the last test will be a sales sketch: for example, a situation of a person who is getting married and who asks for advice”.
“It would be a victory for Toulouse! »
The countdown begins. “I am in the middle of revisions, I receive samples every day to practice and try to find the right bottle in the end”, smiles the wine merchant from Toulouse. Who is aware of what awaits him if he succeeds, on October 17. “It’s still something in terms of result: it’s a little bit the equivalent of a Meilleur Ouvrier de France in his domain. The people who won have seen their lives changed. »
But the one who is also a jury within TBS also sees an opportunity to restore a reputation. “This competition promotes the profession of wine merchant, because it is conviviality, pleasure, sharing. I am also a ‘school store’: I trains new managers. »
Reaching the final of this competition is unprecedented for a candidate from the Pink City. ” To win, it would also be a victory for Toulouse, smiles Philippe Carragoso. I hope that other people from Toulouse will take part next time and reach the final. And will be sacred… like him? Reply October 17.
The Christmas sprint is also launched
As part of a last quarter animated by a final, Philippe Carragoso also sees the arrival of the end of year celebrations. “We have a lot of requests for this period which is very important in our activity. We have to be there”, he comments. “What pleases a lot are the gourmet wines, with a lot of Syrah, Grenache. We will find it in Roussillon. In Fronton, we will find beautiful wines, not necessarily tannic, which will accompany meals. Pleasure wine is the discovery of new products!”
Was this article helpful to you? Note that you can follow Actu Toulouse in the My Actu space. In one click, after registration, you will find all the news of your favorite cities and brands.