Sommelier of the Month - Cyrielle Mascaro
- Name: Cyrielle Mascaro
- Place of birth: Annecy, France
- Eye colour: Green
- Nationality: French
Cyrielle Mascaro, Head Sommelier at Michelin-starred restaurant Texture has forged an impressive international career since joining the hospitality industry. Her journey into the world of gastronomy began in 2009 at the Plaza Athénée Hotel before she joined Michelin-starred restaurant La Tour D’Argent in 2011 as an apprentice commis sommelier. During this time Cyrielle also completed her studies at the iconic Médéric Ecole Hôtelière.
In 2013 Cyrielle briefly moved to two Michelin-starred restaurant, La Table du Lancaster before departing Paris for London where she joined two Michelin-starred Helene Darroze at The Connaught. She was soon promoted to Assistant Head Sommelier and started her Master Sommelier diploma. Cyrielle is currently on her way to complete the third level of her Master Sommelier.
For a breath of fresh Icelandic air in the heart of London, Michelin-starred restaurant and Champagne bar Texture sits on Portman Square, Marylebone. Owner and Chef Patron Aggi Sverrisson, marries big Scandinavian flavours with an extensive Champagne and wine list all housed in the impressive surroundings of a beautiful Georgian townhouse on the Portman Estate.
The restaurant, seating 50 people, offers a menu focussed on the finest native Icelandic produce such as black lava salt, Icelandic cod and Iclandic Skyr yoghurt. Beautiful ingredients are delicately handled, elevated and transformed, arriving at each table as refined seasoned dishes where both the flavours and textures entice the senses with every course. Mirroring classic Modern-European fare but with Aggi’s own unique Icelandic flair, dishes are distinctly light, with minimal cream, butter and sugar used.
The charming Champagne Bar, under the helm of Head Sommelier Cyrielle Mascaro, seats 30 people and offers enthusiasts a selection of over 140 Champagnes by the bottle, and a further five Champagnes by the glass.
How did you first become interested in wine, and how did that interest evolve into a career?
I was born in Savoie, France and due to my father’s career, we moved around France a lot during my childhood. With that, I was lucky to discover and experience the diversity of amazing products that France has to offer. It was at an early age that I fell in love with “La Route des Vins” in Burgundy and knew that whatever career path I chose, it would be closely related to wine
What do you think makes a good sommelier?
I believe that a good sommelier is brought about when he/she is able to express their knowledge and passion for wine and explain the journey of the grape, through the wine maker’s hands and into the bottle, to guests across all ages and cultures.
Describe your typical day at work.
I personally do not feel like there is a “typical day” at work. Due to both the diversity of the people and thus their diverse choice for wine, each day brings something new and exciting for both myself and my team. We have the pleasure to taste new wines every single day and learn new things about them at the same time.
When pairing 'Chef's' dishes with wines, what defines the process for you?
Chef Agnar, the owner of the restaurant, strives to create very light flavoursome dishes using very little fat and sugar. When each new dish is created, I follow the process of tasting each dish to discover the flavours within the dish before pairing them. I think about the balance that could be created and begin by choosing six different wines that I feel could be possible options. I then go through each wine & dish with my team to decide together, as we all have different pallets, which wine we feel would be best paired before deciding on the perfect one.
Please describe your process for sourcing new wines.
Sourcing wine in London is an absolute pleasure as the city offers vibrant and diverse tastings. We also host tastings with our supplier’s regularly and we are lucky enough to have the wine maker’s present their wines personally to us.
What trends have you noticed in the wine market recently?
The craze for natural and orange wine continues in the U.K. however I have also noticed that eastern European wines are becoming more and more popular.
Do you have a favourite food and wine pairing?
White truffle risotto with a white hermitage, bottle aged - simply irresistible!
What is the most unusual food and wine you know?
An unusual food and beverage that would be worth mentioning is one that is a much beloved and traditional pairing in Iceland; fermented shark and Brennivin.
How can customers get the best out of you? What should they be prepared to tell you and what questions should they ask?
I don’t think there is a special way to approach a sommelier, I believe it is our job to be asking all the right questions to get the answers we need to supply them with the right wine for the occasion. I am just trying to make them feel as though they are dreaming and traveling around the world from their seats.
How can budding wine enthusiasts practice their tasting skills at home? Any games, tricks, or tips?
As with everything in life, it is just a question of hard WORK, practise as much as possible and challenge yourself with your friends and team by continuously doing blind tastings with each other. Talk to each other about the wine, varietals, vintage, terroir… In the end, whatever you do, don’t be afraid to fail – your last mistake is your greatest lesson.
Where do you see your future career path?
I hope to see myself on the paths of vineyards around the world in both the near and distant future. I can’t see my career with wine ever ending, only growing and developing.
You are on that deserted island. Which two varietals do you plant?
Without hesitation, Chardonnay – my favourite grape. As long as I have bubbles, I am sure to survive on the island. Then for a second varietal, I would plant nebbiolo.
Who is the one person you’d most like to share a bottle of wine with?
There is no better person to share a bottle of wine than a friend that you have not seen in a while. Both the conversation and wine on this sort of occasion seem to be endless and there is nothing better than a bottle of wine that seems to never end.
Cyrielle's wine and food pairings
Chardonnay coming from Grand Cru Cramant will bring another dimension to the dish by its toasted and delicate floral notes. With precision, it will cut through the coconut soup bringing freshness and would be vinous enough to match with the King Crab.
Rich and Intense with a complex aromatic, powerful corn flavour, caramel and sweet spices. The aroma and the structure of the wine is balanced and in perfect harmony with the dish.
It is a distinct expression of a Barolo on the nose – red roses, violet, red cherries, autumn leaves & mushrooms all combined to create the emotion of the nebbiolo. The wine is well structured with firm tannins which will enhance the smokey & strong flavours of the chargrilled black angus; it is an explosion of taste in the palate.
We all know Riesling for its extraordinary longevity. It is intensively aromatic with a lot of delicate confit Mirabelle and lemon, and a strong slate minerality. The lively finish of the wine will break the sweetness of the white chocolate and the originality of the dessert with the dill and cucumber is just sublime with the complex aromas of the Riesling.