The Champagne Boutique

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Noma voted Best Restaurant in the World twice and best Champagne list by us!

In Sommeliers on April 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Noma has been voted yet again the Best restaurant in the World for the second year running and we love it.

We love it because of its philosophy. Chef Rene Redzepi is a king of “Nordik” gastronomy and has mastered foraging the plants and herbs that are edible and have been forgoten through time.   Celebrating friendship is one of his motos and this restaurant is renown for the well being of its staff.

The menu is eclectic and has a strong emphasis on fish that makes its sommelier and partner Pontus Elofsson’s job very interesting and exiting.

What is interesting in Pontus choice of Champagne is that (We praise it!) he bravely list only Boutique Champagnes!

Tarlant, Larmandier-Bernier, Jerome Prevost, Laherte and Cedric Bouchard to name of few, the list is simply impressive.

We are delighted that such an iconic restaurant has chosen this path and hope that it will give way to a real revolution in the restaurant world and show that after all…they are not that bad those Boutique Champagnes!

Click HERE to see the wine list!


The New Champagne Elite

In Champagnes, Sommeliers on June 17, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Back in 2008 some told us that starting Aperitif Dinatoire and promoting Boutique Champagne in the UK would be foolish as the Grande Marques were in total control and monopolising the champagne sales in the country. Thankfully they were just a minuscule number. Some though, said that the task would be enormous and in a way they were right. For long now we have been convinced that the Champagne region is the most exciting region of all and the cards are getting re-distributed as more and more growers are proving that they can produce wines of the level, if not better, of top cuvees for a fraction of the price. Thanks to new techniques, mostly inspired by Burgundian influence but also by now famous Anselme Selosse, some houses have created real gems of champagne.

So, what has been happening, for the past year or so, is the appearance of a new kind of wine list in our restaurants where some risk-taking sommeliers and managers have literarily dumped the most common brands for lesser known houses. A question remain: why?

Lets have a look at a few champagne lists. (I apologise in advance that I didn’t ask the permission to the creators to use their work for the purpose of this post! Sorry guys but it is for the best! I hope you won’t mind.)

First case study is the champagne list compiled by Matthieu Longueres M.S. of La Trompette in Chiswick. The list is rich and full of different houses. A big change from the traditional list where there are featured around five or six champagne houses.

Out of 29 products on display only 1 is from a grand marque that is the Jacquart Low Dosage. That makes a stunning 3% representation…incredible. I guess this is due to the high quality of theses houses and their real value for money. This is also about offering diversity and an opportunity of discovery for the punter that makes those houses attractive to the sommelier.

Take another look at the pink champagne list of The Ledbury, a newly appointed Michelin star in London, and see what is cooking there…in champagne matters I mean. Out of four houses in representation none are actually grande marques. You would have found the un-avoidable LP rose but it is nowhere to be seen. Instead you have really stunning houses represented there in the like of Bereche, Pehu-Simonnet, Andre Jacquart and Billecart Salmon (Which is a bit larger but fine in its style!).

Some have a much smoother approach to presenting Boutique Champagnes like sommelier Mathieu Germond at two Michelin star Pied a Terre who still integrates some of the cuvees of great houses like Bollinger, Taittinger, Mumm or Krug with an average of 22%.

What we learn with these case studies is that the shift is clear and with much more impact than expected in 2008 and it is a very encouraging sign. One sommelier at a Country House Hotel told me recently that he made the drastic decision to not feature large houses anymore preferring to sell Boutique Champagne only explaining that this was much more exciting.

Exciting it is indeed and we will be looking at those new houses to be discovered in the UK and maybe sometimes will have to rate those winemakers in order to find out who really IS the New Elite of Champagne.

Can’t wait!

Roussillon team to open new venture in Soho

In Chefs, Sommeliers on May 1, 2010 at 9:30 am

Top chef Alexis Gauthier and award-winning sommelier Roberto Della Pietra are about to open a new restaurant together in Soho, London.

The pair has taken former Richard Corrigan eatery Lindsay House and will be opening mid-may GAUTHIER Soho.

This 70 seats restaurant will showcase Alexi’s culinary talent and will offer its refined customers a 400 bin wine list with a strong emphasis on France.

Roberto will also open a wine shop where the finest wines will be available. House champagne, like at Roussillon, will be Gosset and we hope to find a great list of grower champagnes including Soutiran and Eric Rodez.

The restaurant is hosting pre-opening dinner where guests come for free. Book your table on their Facebook page.

I will be visiting GAUTHIER on Wednesday 12th May and will give you my feedbacks.!/pages/London-United-Kingdom/Gauthier-Soho/114555368576680?v=info&ref=ts

Christopher Delalonde named UK Sommelier of the Year 2010

In Events, Sommeliers on April 30, 2010 at 5:39 pm

On Wednesday 28th April, at the uber-chic Westbury Hotel in Mayfair, the competition for Best UK Sommelier of the year took place. Organised by the Academy of Food and Wine Service where la Crème de la Crème of Britain Sommeliers took on a full day of competition in order to find the best of them.

This year has seen 15 semi-finalists representing all the regions of the country. (Garry Clark of the Chester Grovesnor, Remi Cousin of The Fat Duck, Christopher Delalonde of Sarment Wines, Sergio Dos Santos of The Atlantic Hote, Bavand Foroughi of Claridges, Yohann Josselin of The Vineyard at Stockcross, Jan Konetzki of Gordon Ramsay, David Kubler of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Erica Laler of Texture, Phillipe Moranges of Hakkasan, Mark Perlaki of Hotel du Vin Harrogate, Stephen Raducki of The Pont de la Tour, Laurent Richet of Hotel Terravina, Clement Robert of Summer Lodge and Magda Saleh of La Trompette)

From the list we could see that there would be a battle within the battle as a few finalists are assistants of former winners!

After a morning of wine tasting and written exams three finalists were chosen. Two of them would have to fight one another again as they were both finalists last year, Christopher Delalonde and Yohann Josselin. The third finalist is a newcomer in his debut competition, Clement Robert and is the assistant of Eric Zwiebel MS at Summer Lodge Hotel. So it became a “Franco-French Final!’’

The first task was to describe and identify a white wine and also identify a red wine and three spirits. Two of them identified wine #1 as a Gewurtztraminer and Clement a Riesling ,to find out it was a Torrontes from Argentina.

The second task was a wine list correction to which each one of them did very well.

For the practical exam it was the most difficult we have seen for over ten years on stage, with two tables with all former best sommeliers acting as guests. One table of two with Gearoid Devanney and Laura Rhys and a table of four with Claire Thevenot, Nicolas Clerc, Alan Holmes and Matthieu Longueres MS. For 15 minutes each candidate had to perform a red wine decanting, a digestive suggestion and service. The table of four were acting as wealthy clients who had a six course menu starting by oyster and caviar, asparagus and parma ham, turbot in a light shellfish broth, foie gras terrine, beef Wellington and truffle and a tart tatin to finish. For each dish the sommelier had to recommend a wine from a different decade starting the 1950s…tough!

So how did they perform? Well they have been all three outstanding performers. Yohann displayed absolutely perfect technical skills and great organisation skills with perfect timing. Clement really ticked all the boxes and has been very professional throughout. Christopher, who was the first candidate to go on stage, was very comfortable, confident and very entertaining winning the heart of the judges and the public.

The last task was to serve a magnum of champagne into equal 16 glasses.

The assembly resumed for a champagne reception and joined again for a gourmet dinner where two winners were announced. First, winning the Best Young UK Sommelier of the Year was Clement Robert, so well done to him. The winner of the UK Sommelier of the Year 2010 was Christopher Delalonde which was very well deserved; runner-up was Yohann Josselin and third was Clement.

Overall the competition was of premium quality; all candidates were truly impressive so we would like to congratulate all three of them for a great achievement.

David Biraud will represent France

In Sommeliers on April 28, 2010 at 11:17 am

At the end of a full on day where five finalists have been battling for the chance to represent the “Nation of Wine” ,for the competition of Best Sommelier of Europe to be held in Strasbourg in November 2010, it is the Crillon’s Sommelier David Biraud who has won the right to defend his country.

In the final were Eric Zwiebel MS of Summer Lodge Hotel in Dorset, Nicolas Clerc of The Pont de la Tour in London, Antoine Petrus and Fabrice Sommier. After different fields such as blind tasting, wine list correction and service situation, judges decided to give David the chance.

David has most recently been a finalist at the Best Sommelier of the World competition in Chile alongside Paolo Basso of Switzerland and the winner Gerard Basset MS MW representing Great Britain.

Eric Zwiebel MS, who has been representing France for the past Europe’s and World competition recognises David’s quality and skills who is to his eyes a “Grand Sommelier”.

“Being second is frustrating but to be fair, after David’s performance at the World I believe he is a good candidate for France!” says Zwiebel.

Concerning Eric he will take time off the books for a while and concentrate in the development of his consultancy venture but we will talk more about this in the near future.

For the time being, we will have to wait who will be Britain’s candidate!

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