A good sommelier can be a lifesaver, effortlessly guiding diners to that perfect bottle of wine at an affordable price. Of course there is also a minority who like to sneer at every customer they serve. As the 2012 movie Somm showed us, being a good sommelier requires a high degree of skill and knowledge. It is an important position for the restaurant proprietor too. As one leading sommelier pointed out to me, he brought in half of his restaurant’s profits, while a huge battery of chefs, waiters and other employees were responsible for the other half. But what do sommeliers like to drink off-duty? I asked four from around the country to divulge their favourite wine within a budget, and a dish to accompany it. The only restrictions were price – €25 (€15 in the case of Aniar), and availability. Coincidentally, three of the four wines have featured as wines of the week on these pages – obviously these somms know a thing or two!
Julie Dupouy of the Greenhouse restaurant on Dawson Street was placed third in the World Sommelier Championships, one of the most difficult and prestigious competitions. She now also runs Down2wine, a wine consultancy service. She chose the Rosso Piceno. “I love it for the balance between sweet dark fruits and savouriness, and the smooth and seductive texture. A great option at the table especially with venison and some sweet earthy ingredients such as beetroot and mushrooms.”
Nicolas Faujours works at Knockranny House in Westport. With his Bourgogne Rouge, Faujours chose duck, and not just any duck; see online for the Knockranny pan-seared breast of Gressingham duck with various accompaniments. “It is such a versatile wine and I love it,” he says. “It is light bodied and great with many foods including the duck as well as sea bass. In staff tastings, it always comes out on top.”
I gave Zsolt Lukacs of Aniar in Galway the harder task; a wine under €15. This Philippe Michel Crémant, a favourite of mine as well, is, he says, “a heavyweight champion in bantam costume. A fantastic wine on its own or with oysters, squid and chorizo or light pork dishes. Thanks to its great acidity, it can easily cope with some cheeses, too”. Samuel Chantoiseau is head sommelier at Ballymaloe House in Cork. “I love Chenin Blanc from the Loire valley. With wine this good I would eat some seared Irish scallops, maybe with quinoa and roast vegetables and a little spice. I love Savennières, but it is quite expensive. This Vouvray is delicious; if I had an older vintage such as 2012, it would be even better.”
Fascinating, delightful wine. Light yet full of rich honey and peaches.
Stockists: Le Caveau; Baggot St. Wines; Clontarf Wines; Corkscrew;
Green Man; Listons; Fallon & Byrne; MacGuinness, Dundalk; Avoca, Rathcoole.
Bourgogne Rouge Domaine Guillot-Broux 2014
Juicy fragrant light redcurrant and red cherry fruits.
Cabot and Co, Westport; Poppy Seed, Clarinbridge; Grapevine, Dalkey;
Lovely elegant dark cherry fruits with a savoury edge and a very attractive freshness.
Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin, Galway and Meath.
Philippe Michel Crémant de Jura NV
Crisp zippy refreshing green apples and lemon zest. Amazing value for money.