A friend told me a new word for a person with a higher more sophisticated knowledge than an aficionado. It sounds like "koount ah shent ie". My best guess of the spelling is "countashenti", but that has not led me to the correct word. What is the correct spelling?
It sounds like you are looking for cognoscenti this is usually applied in the context of a group of community rather than in the singular to an individual.
It is usually used for fields related to arts and culture and also has implications in terms of elite social status and connections and can imply insider knowledge and influence as well as technical or academic expertise.
Form your definition connoisseur may also apply. This tends to focus more on appreciation and knowledge of a subject.
However both terms tend to imply that any 'expertise' lies in the consumption, analysis or appreciation of cultural products rather than expertise in their production.
Both terms also tend to apply more to things which are rare, expensive of associated with high social status.