Sommelier of the Month - Alexandre Roy

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Author: TheDrinkShop
Tags: Sommelier, Wine
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  • Name: Alexandre Roy.
  • Place of birth: Talence, Bordeaux.
  • Eye colour: Brown.
  • Nationality: French.

Born in Bordeaux in 1981 to a wine maker's family where both sides of the family have owned vineyards and produced wine for six generations, from Saumos to Fronsac, through the legendary town of Saint Emilion.

I went to primary school in Leognan which was located in the front of the Chateau Haut Bailly. I spent hours there with their "Maitre de Chai" Mr Charrite, or Mr Tauzin across the road, owner of the Domaine de Merlet. I discovered with them the difference between a family property and a Grand Cru, especially the difference of volume and the level of quality by taking in all of the smallest details.

Also my father was working in "viticulture at the INRA" (National institute of agronomic research). Owning many different properties like Chateau Couhins in Villenave d'Ornon, I grew up with vineyards and wine cellars all my childhood. When I was 14 I started to work in the vineyards with some of my father's friends. This was my first work experience, and from then, I never stopped loving wines and it was there that I learnt how to take care of the vine and make wine.

When I finished school, I started my career in the hospitality industry, working as a waiter apprentice in a 5 star Hotel, "Relais de Margaux" where I then dedicated myself to wine, spending a year at the famous school of Bordeaux to pass my mention as a Sommelier.

I worked for 12 years in hospitality in Paris, Bordeaux, Hamburg and Taipei and during this time I wanted to explore all the different aspects of this industry. From chef de rang, to sommelier, working as bartender then bar manager, I even opened my own Restaurant in Taipei "a La Maison" in 2010, using all my "savoir faire". It sold home-comfort French food, some classic and creative cocktails. My wine list was mainly sourced from France from some unknown but amazing producers, as well as exclusive ones and some of the greatest French wines.

I started to work for a private company in charge of linking international wine trader and wine owner, with different wineries in Medoc, Saint Emilion, Pessac leognan and Sauterne appellation. This was a great two years enjoying the opportunity to meet some famous wine makers.

During this time I met my wife and had my son "Attis". From then on we decided that I was the time to come to Europe as our second child will be born in February 2015.

I really wanted to make myself known in a prestigious restaurant where I can recommend and pass on my passion about wine. Not long after I started looking, Dimitri Marqueteau food and beverage manager from Michelin starred Bohemia Restaurant at the Club Hotel & Spa contacted me. His vision and his passion about Bohemia did not make me think too long about where I should be next, and here I am...

Our Wines & Food Pairings

Cep - Potato - Quail Egg - Sorrel
Pinot Gris - Beurrot - 2010 - Peninsula - Australia

Local Crab - Pineapple - Yuzu - Wasabi
Trempanillo Blanco - Inspiration Valdemar - 2013 - Rioja - Spain

Foie Gras Cream - Sour Cherry - Duck Salad - Pistachio
Gewurztraminer - Cono Sur - Bicicleta - 2012 - Central Valley - Chile

Langoustine - Parsnip - Sea Herbs - Smoked Butter
Eichenstaude - Gruner Veltliner - Kurt Angerer - 2011 - Kamptal - Austria

Scallop - Celeriac - Apple - Smoked Eel & Truffle
Gamay Noir - Te Mata - 2011 - Hawkes Bay - New Zealand

Seabass - Kohlrabi - Razor Clams - Sea Herbs - Creme FraIche

Turbot - Mussels - Cauliflower - Raisin - Vadouvan
Dreissigacker - Riesling - Trocken - 2011 - Bechtheim - Germany

Anjou Pigeon - Beetroot - Blackberry - Liquorice
Chateau Sigognac - Cru Bourgeois - Medoc - 2002 - Bordeaux - France

Cumbrian Beef - Cepe - Grelot - Watercress - Red Wine
Domaine Saint Luc - Cuvee Emiliane - 2009 - Rhone Valley - France

Suckling Pig Loin & Belly - Cevenne Onion - Prune & Black Pudding
Chardonnay - "Tete de Cuvee", Domaine du Tariquet - 2010 - Cotes de Gasgogne - France

Selection of artisan cheese from Jean-Yves Bordier (£15 Supp.)

Whisky - Gujana - Malt
Kracher - Pradikat Beernauslese - 2011 - Burgenland - Austria

Rhubarb - Champagne - Hibiscus
Pink Champagne Cocktail

Jivara Lactee - Milk - Yuzu
Orange & Yuzu Royal Cosmopolitan

Alexandre 's Q&A

What do you think makes a great sommelier?
For me, the most important part of being a sommelier is empathy. No matter how technically minded or knowledgeable one is, the most important thing is to match the pairing with the customer's taste and with the food that they order. This will ensure your customers smile at their first taste and for the rest of the evening.

Describe your typical day at work.
First of all I prepare myself for the lunch service. I do this by checking my wine cellar and tidying up if I am expecting any orders. I then check with my manager to see if any special requirements are needed for the day. I liaise with our head chef to see if there are any changes on the menu, in order to have the best pairing ready. After the lunch service I then repeat the same preparations for the same for the evening service.

How does pricing affect the wine advice you give diners?
What I like in Bohemia is that we do not look at price when pairing or buying wine, we look at the quality of the wine and this is what we convery to the customers.

Have customers become more knowledgeable about wine?
I think in the last few years, many people have become more knowledgeable about wine and especially about food as there are now so many good programmes on TV. At the Bohemia, the customers are generally more knowledgeable.

Who has been most influential in your career?
Without hesitation, my "Father". From an early age, he taught me everything he knew about the vine. He shared his passion about the beautiful life that surrounds wine.

Describe a good sommelier's introduction or presentation of their list at a table.
I think the best way is to make it a simple as possible, I explain how the wine list is organised and show them where to find what they are looking for. I then give them some time to have a look and return to find out what they really want and provide some advice if needed.

When pairing 'Chef's' dishes with wines, what defines the process for you?
I first look at all the ingredients and at how the chef creates the meal. I then select wines that I think will work best. We then try the dish for the first time with the pre-selected wines and we try to find the best grape, the right vintage, country etc.. Once we find the best wine, we try the full dish again with the selected wine so that aren't disturbed by other flavours.

How often do you manage to touch base and re-taste your wines?
We try the wine or have a wine pairing every day, we also have wine tastings which are organised by our wine merchants. I also try to get to London & France for wine shows.

Please describe your process for sourcing new wines.
I just arrived in Jersey, so most of the wine are source by my Manager Dimitri, but I am staring to find my way. I read a lot about new wine and try to taste as many as I can when I can.

Selling wines by the glass. Your thoughts please.
This is a great way to perfctly match wine and food. It's also a great way to introduce new wine.

What are you really thinking when a customer sends a perfectly good wine back?
We always accommodate the guest, we want them to be happy and return at a later date.

What trends have you noticed in the wine market recently?
I think new world wines are getting better every year and they are so competitive. Selling wine by grape variety, this makes it easy for customers to understand. My favourite at the moment is South African wine.

You are on that deserted island. Which two varietals do you plant?
It depends where the island is as I don't want to end up with a bad wine. But surely, Chardonnay & Malbec.

What's the key to developing staff to become well-trained to sell and serve wine?
The only way to get them well trained is to share your passion and make them believe. You need staff who are interested as if they are not you will never develop them to their best potential.

Do you have a favourite food and wine pairing?
White Trempanillo with Crab, Pineapple, yuzu, wasabi from Steve Smith our Head Chef. It is the perfect match and one of the most surprising wines that I have tried for a long time

And a most unusual food and wine pairing?
Spicy Chinese food with Blanc de Blancs Champagne.

How can customers get the best out of you? What should they be prepared to tell you and what questions should they ask?
By smiling and showing interest, this shows a real passion for fine food, wine and our job.

Who is the one person you'd most like to share a bottle of wine with?
At the moment my F & B director. We have a similar vision about life, work and taste. A passionate conversation always ensues when we share a bottle of wine.

How can budding wine enthusiasts practice their tasting skills at home? Any games, tricks, or tips?
By trying as much wine as possible, and by reading a lot about wines. Reviews are a good way to start and try to go on holiday not too far from vineyards. There is a great game called "le nez du vin" where you have to identify aromas. It's a great night in and perfect practice for your nose.

What's the one thing you love most about your job?
Meeting different people from all over, travelling and of course drinking wine.

Where do you see your future career path?
For the next few years I would like to stay here in Bohemia, I have a lot to learn and to share. One day I may live in a chateaux, that would be a great way to finish my career.

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