Sommelier of the Month - Arnaud Bardary

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Author: TheDrinkShop
Tags: Sommelier, Wine
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  • Name: Arnaud Bardary
  • Date of birth: 12th June
  • Place of birth: Lons le Saunier, France
  • Eye colour: Brown
  • Nationality: French

I started my career in catering at a very young age. My brother and I are now the 5th generation of our family to work in the business. When I was younger, I can remember plating up some dishes in my grandparent's restaurant and smelling all the different aromas. On the other side of my family, my grandfather produced wine under the appellation Chateau Chalon in Jura.

After studying catering in Le Mans and Nice, I combined my passion for the catering and wine industry by training as a sommelier in Toulouse. The more I studied and worked in the vineyards and restaurants, the more the title of sommelier appealed to me.

After my exams, I headed to the UK and began working for "Hotel du Vin" where I met many people who helped to guide my knowledge further. I then spent a year in Spain but decided to come back to England and settled in London.

I have now been at maze for 4 and a half years. I have continued to study, sit exams and enter competitions. I recently passed the Master Sommelier Diploma.

As well as being able to suggest wines and understand a guest's needs, my job as a sommelier is not only to learn more about wine but how to convey my knowledge to the staff, guests and to friends. My job also requires me to manage staff and stock - my friends in the wine world comment or joke that we have one of the best jobs in the world trying all different wines and beverages.

Food also is a very important factor. Lots of the guests will come just for the food served at a restaurant - it is then down to us to give them the complete experience.

Maze and Maze Grill Mayfair

The venue is composed of two restaurants, Maze and Maze Grill Mayfair, which houses a bar, a sushi counter and three separate private dining rooms. It is situated in Mayfair, just behind Oxford Street and we are now celebrating the 10th year of maze restaurant within the Gordon Ramsay Group.

At Maze I look after a team of fourteen people, from the glass polisher to my assistant sommeliers. My job is to oversee and take part in the wine service. I'm also involved in the food service and I am responsible for training, the sommelier's rota, buying wine, compiling the wine list by the glass, the private dining and room service lists.

Arnaud's wine and food pairings

Seared and marinated Yellow fin tuna, Iberico ham, avocado puree

Fiefs Vendeens Reflets rose, domaine Saint Nicolas 2014

I have chosen this firstly because we tend to forget rose wine and gastronomy. A lot of rose is made to match food, not just as an aperitif or or for something to sip by the beach in the middle of the summer. This rose is based on the Pinot Noir grape, Gamay and Groslot Gris have a fresh, red fruit character but a round middle palate, with sensation of jammy strawberries. A vinous rose wine. Tuna, which is a meatier fish, needs a fresh wine from a cool climate area, such as Loire Valley in this case. A fresh arrival of the wine will balance the suave character of the fish

Lobster dumpling, lobster, scallops and dashi

Besserat de Bellefon Cuvee des Moines Brut NV - /item/2608

Champagne is very versatile and a wine for every occasion. Besserat de Bellefon cuvee des moines blanc de Blancs NV will cut through the dashi, bringing freshness to the dish. The champagne is aged for six years and will have enough intensity of floral flavour but also a rounder, toasted character to match the lobster and scallops.

Duck breast, truffle, endive, girolles

Chianti Classico riserva Tenuta di Arceno 2009

The wine is well structured, rounded with notes of ageing. The wine will carry the meatiness due to the Sangiovese grape, but also has mushroom-like notes. The endives will bring some vegetal character to the pairing, creating an intense and complex match.

Black truffle parfait, sea salt, chocolate and oak aged whisky

Madeira Bual Henriques & Henriques 2000

Madeira will balance the sweetness of the chocolate as it will cut through the bitterness. As the Madeira is aged, it will develop an oaky character and caramel flavours, and will match the truffle as well as the whisky syrup.

Arnaud's Q&A

What do you think makes a great sommelier?

A lot of things. Being good with guests is very important - you must understand them, be able to read them and anticipate their needs. You must have a good product knowledge as well as good tasting skills. You must be able to stock manage and manage your staff - draft rotas, understand the staff and what they like, train them, encourage them to go on wine trips, to tastings, etc.

They are a lot of things required to be a good sommelier, the passion will guide you though. As long as a sommelier is passionate, he or she will develop.

Describe your typical day at work.

Hard to answer as every day is different, depending on the wine events we host, the tastings, how many covers are in the restaurant, which day of the week it is, who is working with you... That's what makes our job interesting.

When pairing 'Chef's' dishes with wines, what defines the process for you?

We have to take care of the texture, temperature, flavours, originality, to know where the ingredients are from... Usually I will pick one dish and ten different wines which could be suitable for that dish. I will also ask other sommeliers to try the pairings I suggest. Then we will discuss them, so as to choose the best one.

Please describe your process for sourcing new wines.

We source wines through suppliers of course and taste wines in London during wine fairs but also in the restaurants where we will go during our time off. Any wine tasted could be suitable to enter the wine list.

Meeting the producers is also an important part of the process, and I also get suggestions from the different members of the team - what is the point of listing a wine which only I might like?

What trends have you noticed in the wine market recently?

The trend to go for dry wine, when the tendency used to be for sweet wines. Another two trends are natural wines and orange wines which can sometimes be tricky served on their own but work perfectly with food.

You are on that deserted island. Which two varietals do you plant?

Nebbiolo for the red, making a good Barolo or barbaresco style of wine, and Riesling for the white - one to start, one to finish a meal. One to age and one to drink young - drinking from the driest to the sweetest style of wines.

Do you have a favourite food and wine pairing?

Maybe a Poulet au vin jaune and Chateau Chalon.

And a most unusual food and wine pairing?

A stout beer or porter and oysters.

How can customers get the best out of you? What should they be prepared to tell you and what questions should they ask?

Anything, I am open to all questions, although I may not have the answer to everything. I like to talk to guests about wine in general, the latest tasting they have done, etc. As mentioned previously, wine is to be shared.

Who is the one person you'd most like to share a bottle of wine with?

Too hard to answer - I want to share a bottle with my good friends and family (maybe with my nephew in few years time!).

How can budding wine enthusiasts practice their tasting skills at home? Any games, tricks, or tips?

The easiest is to practise whilst eating with friends or family - open different bottles and blind taste them at the table. Then discuss them - "why a Cabernet Sauvignon and not a Malbec?", "why from this region and not another?". It is a good way to understand why you can be right or wrong.

It is also good to spend your time smelling everything, soap, perfume, flowers, vegetables and fruits. All of them will help you while tasting and describing a wine. "Le nez du vin" also is a good game, composed of essences of flavours.

Another tip is just to blind taste wine as much as possible. It is a memory we rarely use and tend to forget things if not practiced.

Like any sport also to taste with people who are better than you is a faster way to learn. This person will guide you through.

Never be scared to ask a question even if you think the others will find it logical. Knowledge in tasting and wine is complex and you can't know everything straight away.

Where do you see your future career path?

A bigger structure, but I would find it quite hard to leave the wine industry.

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