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Mmm… I have to say that I am very fond of Burgundy just because of the varied geological make-up. It's a real patchwork of appellations each as small as a pocket handkerchief, which allows you to make subtly balanced wines bordering on perfection. It is an amazing feat with a single grape variety. Red wines are made with Pinot Noir, a very capricious grape which is intolerant of mediocrity. White wines are made with Chardonnay which only becomes a great grape when enhanced by its terroir. These wines are grown in vineyard plots identified in the middle ages and considered as great ever since, it’s inspiring.... but I'm interested in other vineyards: The Loire, Piemonte, Ribera del Duero, Alsace. I am getting rather choosy with quality in my old age!
A mentor is always the best person to reveal passion during one's career. I have had three:
Jacques Méhaut (Head-Sommelier, Drouant) with his knowledge of Burgundy and its terroirs (aha!) a unique man who is currently enjoying success in Hong-Kong. He has an exceptional ability to pass on his knowledge.
Hubert Notais (Head-Sommelier of international renown) who taught me rigor for precision work, love of cuisine and food and wine pairings, a talented and passionate man who has set up his own wine merchant in Mayenne.
Jean-Claude Maitre (Head-Sommelier, Lucas Carton, Maxim’s and Hôtel de Crillon) who taught me the art of balance and simple pleasures. A great man, now in retirement.
Many…. Méo Camuzet, Clos Vougeot 2000 tasted from the barrel at the Romanée Conti estate with Aubert de Villaine, Egon Muller Riesling TBA 1971, Cheval Blanc 1947, Guy Roulot Meursault Perrières 1989 …wow… clichés I know, wines described by so many fine wine lovers before me, but there's no substitute for greatness. There's no question these wines are fashionless, so yes, great, timeless classics which are admirable and admired by all.
The wines of Xavier Braujou, especially a Vin de Pays de l’Hérault, cuvée Pradel (100% Cinsault) which is just staggering and Olivier Jullien's Cartagène (an extraordinary liqueur wine). Unique and unforgettable.
A balanced view and acceptance that different styles and tastes of wine exist. Attributing values to what you feel and learn when sharing and encouraging those who work in wine to cultivate variety, authenticity and savoir-faire. Banishing standardization, ringing the changes and continuing to educate people in taste and wine awareness across the world by transmission of what is learned at Le Cordon Bleu. A good Leitmotiv is 'drink less wine, drink better wine'.
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