Published : 08/26/2020 11:48:18
It’s true that the world of wine is above all about passion. It requires you to have a particularly good memory, both intellectually and in terms of your sense of smell. I discovered the profession during my patisserie placement at the Michelin-starred restaurant, JY’S in Colmar, the capital of Alsace wine. On my days off, I used to like running through the vines, eating in Winstubs and meeting wine producers in the villages along the wine route.
People from Alsace are extremely welcoming and are happy to take time to talk to you about their job. The first Gewurztraminer I ever tasted is still etched in my memory.
2 competitions, 2 victories in 2020. An outstanding year? Château Gassiez Challenge & best sommelier student of Terroirs du Sud-Ouest
I think it is a combination of circumstances. I’m used to athletic competitions, so I was keen to take on this type of challenge. As a result of our little sommelier promotion at Groisy CFA (training centre), my teacher, Olivier Chéreau, entered me for these two competitions.
How do you prepare for this type of competition?
I was supported by Charles-André Charrier (president of sommeliers of Savoie) throughout my preparation as well as Bastien Debono and Olivier Chéreau. I learned from all of them. For the theory section, I worked a lot with the appellations’ specifications and also various books on wine waiting. For the practical side, these 3 sommeliers simulated “competitions” to get me used to the stress. For example, for the Provence competition, Charly organised a marketing test at Abbaye de Talloires in the presence of Bastien Debono.
How important are elders in the wine waiting profession?
They are essential for passing down knowledge. Wine waiting is a small world professionally but a big world in terms of sharing. It is a changing world, but it is still essential to refer to our elders. Mentoring has an important place and knowledge, experience and emotions are shared.
Women are increasingly shaking things up in the world of wine, female sommeliers, wine merchants, owners of wine bars. Who inspires you?
A woman who has really made an impression on me in the world of wine is Julia Scavo. During lockdown, I was able to attend two of her conferences and I was captivated by her knowledge. As long as we shake up people’s consciences and not the bottles, it’s all good.
Pascaline Lepeltier, Meilleur Sommelier de France (France’s best sommelier) 2018 said that wine is also an art of language and that she always had to work on her semantic and speaking abilities. Do you have the same relationship with words?
I think that in the world of wine waiting, the right choice of words is essential if we want to take our customers on a journey. When dealing with customers, it is vital to use varied language, certain terms and not go off into recitations. It is necessary to convey an emotion and make a connection with the person who made the product. Just as wine drives out sadness and banishes sorrow (Homer), the right words can ease your troubles away.
In September, you will start training at Bistrot du Sommelier, owned by Philippe Faure-Brac, world’s best sommelier 1992. Is this a new stage in your training?
Yes, it’s a new start. Leaving Annecy to return to Paris will be a big change and having the opportunity of working with Mr Philippe Faure Brac will be extremely rewarding. I can’t wait to start.