To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Decanter World Wine Awards, we're profiling a number of this year's judges, who are some of the world's most renowned wine experts. Our 'Meet the Judges' interview series offers a rare insight into the world of wine and judging from the key industry experts deciding this year's best wines.
In this interview, find out more about the Chef and Sommelier of Michelin-starred restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Arnaud Goubet…
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I am based in Oxfordshire, and I work at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. I’ve been here for six years with my wife and two daughters, who are an important part of my life.
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is the main reason I’m based here. Raymond Blanc [has a] quest for perfection via authentic produce, which is very often biodynamic.
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
I first got into catering as waiter. I loved to welcome friends and family, sometimes on a big scale with 50 to 70 covers, and I was getting compliments so it encouraged me to choose my career and a vocation [within hospitality]. I got into wine when I volunteered to take charge of the wine at Simply Nico in 1998 – I realised I had a bit to learn to really serve the product properly.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a Sommelier?
Don’t sell what you like as the guest might not enjoy it, it’s about matching the personal tastes of the client before the food.
Share knowledge and experience with your colleagues for the benefit of all.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
The team I work with now, and the ones I’ve worked with in the past. They lead me as much as I manage them, and it teaches me to listen more and that I still have a long road ahead. I have a team of 12, and we evolve together by all having an input in what we do.
What are your most memorable wine moments from the last ten years?
Working in the Brédif Winery in Vouvray in 2003; serving vintages from the 30s at Lasserre, and a Corton Renardes 1976 by Leroy in 2005.
Who has been your most memorable customer and why?
He is a regular, we just recommend wines he can enjoy drinking and sharing with his family, friends and sometimes colleagues. A classic “Bon Vivant”, he reminds us why we love this job, because we simply make someone happy and satisfied. He’s the kind we can serve without any effort, and he’s already paid us with a smile of great pleasure.
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
The wines from Georgia and Slovenia seem to have become a range to discover, from which there is a lot to learn and experience.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment and what is your perfect food and wine match?
At home I’m still drinking the wines from Languedoc I bought last summer, and there’s always some Champagne and German Riesling. I do also try some samples [at home], to see how they feel when you drink, eat and relax instead of purely tasting as a professional.
What’s your desert island wine?
What single piece of advice do you have for people just starting out in wine?
Be a student for as long as you will be a sommelier.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
Balance, quality and potential pleasure.
Written by Decanter.com