Decanter speaks to sommelier Mathieu Ouvrard about his earliest wine memory and the biggest faux pas that's happened on the job. As published in Decanter's July 2014 issue.
Mathieu Ouvrard is head sommelier at The Strathearn restaurant at Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland, PH3 1NF. Tel: +44 (0)1764 694270; gleneagles.com
What’s your earliest wine memory?
It was tasting a wine from Savennières’ famous Clos du Papillon vineyard on a trip there with my class at Angers University. I was astounded. I could not believe or understand how grapes could produce such flavours.
What bottle stopped you in your tracks and got you serious about wine?
In 2000, when at the Hotel du Vin in Tunbridge Wells, I tasted Domaine Coche-Dury’s Meursault 1985. It’s the ultimate expression of white Burgundy.
What’s the biggest faux pas that’s happened on the job?
In front of 100 diners, me and four other sommeliers were introducing the wines matched to each course alongside (2010 World’s Best Sommelier) Gerard Basset OBE MS MW. When the time came for me to speak, my nerves got the better of me and I completely forgot what I was saying, making a bit of a fool of myself.
Have you ever served anyone famous, and if so, who and what?
A quite ironic experience actually. It was Bono from U2 and former President Bill Clinton… but they ordered soft drinks!
What’s the hardest food and wine match, and how do you overcome it?
It was a fillet of halibut with a beetroot reduction. I chose a Spätburgunder from Weingut Huber in Baden.
What’s the most annoying customer habit?
People who are reluctant to try new or different wines. It’s frustrating, as it doesn’t give the sommelier a chance to enhance their dining experience.
Which wines are you buying for personal consumption at the moment?
Cà dei Frati, I Frati from Lugana in Lombardy. This Verdicchio to me is the essence of simplicity in its construction and palate; perfect for every occasion.
What’s the most valuable wine lesson you’ve learned as a sommelier?
Don’t show off!
Written by Decanter