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Confessions of a sommelier: Richard Bernard

Decanter speaks to sommelier Richard Bernard about his most memorable and enjoyable wines. As published in Decanter's August 2014 issue.

Richard Bernard is food and beverage manager at Le St-James, 3 Place Camille Hostein, 33270 Bouliac, Tel: +33 5579 70600; saintjames-bouliac.com.

He was Best Sommelier of France in 1996

What’s your earliest wine memory?
My grandfather bought a barrel of wine four times a year from Boudes in the Côtes d’Auvergne. He took a glass from it with each meal, but the remainder was never protected from oxygen, so progressively became worse.

What bottle stopped you in your tracks and got you serious about wine?
It was a Château Latour 1928, chosen by a restaurant guest (he’d drunk the 1929 a few days earlier but didn’t like the colour!). The complexity and beauty of the wine was a revelation.

Since then, what’s the best wine you’ve ever drunk and why?
It was in the cellars of Clos Rougeard in Saumur-Champigny tasting the Le Bourg 1990. It was a great wine – even better to share it with the winemaker, Charly Foucault, who is also a friend.

Have you ever served anyone famous, and if so, who and what?
The actor Tom Cruise and rock stars Mick Jagger and Bono. I can’t recall the wines they chose but they were very interested in learning more about the wines.

What’s the hardest food and wine match, and how do you overcome it?
The simple rule is that there are only two types of pairings: those of harmony (where acidities, sugars and weight in the food and wine are equal) and those of opposition (where a wine of high acidity cuts though fatty meat or an off-dry wine goes with spicy food).

What’s the most annoying customer habit?
Deferring to others’ tastes instead of forming their own opinion. That, and only ordering water!

What wines are you buying for personal consumption at the moment?
Elian Da Ros’ Chante Coucou from the Côtes du Marmandais, a satellite of Bordeaux. It’s not wine, it’s gluttony!

Written by Decanter

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