Dreams That Come True
SERGIO CIMERMAN AND CLAUDIO HAASE MAKE UP THE BRAZILIAN DUET THAT WON THE FIRST HABANOS WORLD CHALLENGE CONTEST HELD IN THAT COUNTRY
Emporium Cigars, Habanos, S.A.'s exclusive distributor in Brazil, held in Sao Paulo — August 2019 — its first Habanos World Challenge (HWC) contest. The competition was won by Sergio Cimerman and Claudio Haase, who introduced Cohiba Talismán and Porto Taylor's 1966 in their Habanos Moment. The duet represents the South American nation in the third edition of the International Habanos World Challenge in Havana, as part of the 22nd Habano Festival. This Festival, both say, means the fulfillment of a personal dream. Excelencias sat down with both and heard about their experiences and expectations.
You cherish a previous experience in this contest. What were the most demanding moments you coped with?
Our experience was the national leg held in Brazil. The contest took place in the city of Sao Paulo and was divided in two stages, where Habano enthusiasts from all over Brazil attended. We had to deal with testoriented questions in the first stage held at La Casa del Habano, followed by a cocktail for participants, with the qualification of five duets for the grand finale held at Iulia Restaurant in Jockey Club. The most
demanding moment was the blindfolded tasting.
For Sergio Cimerman and Claudio Haase, the toughest challenge was the study of all Habanos brands, since the Brazilian market does not sell them all, and so it will be in the stage slated for Havana: dealing with brands that may be unknown to them. However, they are excited and happy to be able to show their expertise and thus, both can best honor Brazil and Emporium Cigars, which are supporting them every step of the way.
In addition to boasting sharp knowledge about the best Premium cigars in the world, participating in this sort of competition entails a lot of study and a profound technical competence on Habanos. Therefore, the Brazilian duet needs to look up information in books and on the Internet, and rely on the experience of Habanos' enthusiasts who have puffed on them for too long. Likewise, they believe it is paramount to have the necessary skill to bring up the best of a Habano, triggering a tasting memory that allows its pairing with all kinds of drinks, bearing always in mind the mood, because “the spirit always affects the puffing,” both point out.
Sergio Cimerman is a specialist in infectious diseases. He works in a private clinic and dedicates part of his work to caring for poor people. He says he never thought he could fall in love with tobacco, “but I definitively have a gourmet side on me. I realized Habanos were more than just cigars. I found out that they gave me notes similar to that of wine, which is my other passion. Hence, I started enjoying it and that's it!
“A good Habano is similar to a good wine: a sublime gastronomic experience that gives you great pleasure. There is no need to be wealthy to smoke a Habano; this concept is absolutely wrong and must be staved off as you might as well smoke one of a lower brand and price; without sacrificing the delight of enjoying it at the right time.”
Cimerman and his partner Claudio Hasse, who is a lawyer, say that a Cuban cigar stands for a unique moment. "When we are well, we smoke a Habano to relax, enjoy in a pleasant company, and think about life. When we feel bad, it helps us to find a way out, to relieve stress. Definitely, smoking a Habano is the best part of the day.”
Representing Brazil in the birthplace of the finest cigar of the world is certainly the goal, the ambition, a challenge. A dream that comes true as both will be in direct contact with the best brands, the best cigar-rollers, the best masters.
“Cuba and its Habanos always pique curiosity and is a great responsibility for us to represent our country in such a high-octane festival,” Haase and Cimerman said. “Being part of the Habano Festival is the moment of greatest happiness for Cuban tobacco enthusiasts. Living the event at full throttle and sharing with friends from all over the world is magical. The eagerly-awaited launches make us feel like children at a candy store; the same feeling is triggered by parties, plantations, factories...It is a full week totally devoted to a passion. Being in Havana, being in Cuba, matches with the pride and respect we feel for this land of beloved and beautiful people in every way.”