Xavier Thuizat, named France’s best sommelier in 2022, and awarded the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in the Sommelier category in June 2023, has been leading the team of sommeliers across Rosewood’s European hotels since January 2023. We caught up with him in April at the Tuscan hotel, Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, when he met with his European team all together for the first time.
Decanter: How’s it going so far?
Xavier Thuizat: It’s busy, but good busy. Rosewood is growing fast and there are lots of new openings planned – at the moment there are six European hotels and resorts, but in a few years time there will be 14, including an opening in Bordeaux in 2026.
It’s something I’m used to, as I’ve spent 11 years in Michelin three-starred restaurants, and helped open The Peninsula in Paris and relaunch Hôtel de Crillon, Rosewood’s Paris property, where I am still based.
D: Why did Rosewood create the role of European sommelier?
XT: The aim is to unify the wine philosophy across the group. Obviously each property will have its own head sommelier, and will operate autonomously, creating its own wine list. But we want a common philosophy around service.
‘We want bottles on our list to be opened, not to sit there and be admired as a piece of art.’
D: What’s your vision for the wine programmes?
XT: Our by-the-glass programmes are vital – they touch more customers, and they allow wine lovers to access wine that they may not otherwise be able to try, especially with the advanced wine preservation systems that are available today.
Our aim is to offer the rare wines and top labels that diners in a luxury hotel would expect to find, but also to promote young talents, the new generation.
Wine is becoming a luxury product, sure, but we don’t want to lose the purpose of wine, which is bringing people together by sharing a good bottle. We want the bottles on our list – including at the top end – to be opened, not to sit there and be admired as a piece of art. This also means using a pricing model that respects the guests, and the winemakers.
There’s a renewed focus on sustainability too. We want more organic wines on our by-the-glass list (probably 75-80%). And we plan to source more wines locally, while balancing that with consumer choice.
D: Why is local sourcing important to you?
XT: Europe is the continent of wine, and that allows us to do things differently here. We want to support and build relationships with local winemakers, helping to recreate the links between winemakers and wine lovers.
Every wine on the list should have a sense of place, and we want a dynamic events program that helps winemakers connect with our customers and help bring their wines alive. The winemakers are the stars.
D: Anything else?
XT: Well it goes without saying that we’ll be introducing sake in all the European hotels, given my passion for it!