Find out more about the world-renowned names that make up the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards judging line-up in this Q&A series.
Kathrine Larsen MS is head sommelier at ZUMA restaurant in London. She began her career in hospitality in her native Copenhagen, working for several one and two Michelin star restaurants. In 2007, Larsen moved to London to join D&D London, where she was head sommelier for Pont de la Tour and Orrery. She was named UK Young Sommelier of the Year in 2013.
Read our interview with Kathrine Larsen MS below…
☆ What year or decade do you wish you’d been born in and why?
I was born in 1982 and actually wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! 1982 was a watershed year for Bordeaux due to the incredible vintage, Robert Parker’s praise and the subsequent influence he has had on the region. 1982 was also an incredible year in Champagne, and particularly the Côte de Blancs, while in the New World, 1982 saw Te Mata produce their inaugural vintage of Coleraine, and de Bortoli produce their first vintage of ‘Noble One’ Semillon.
☆ How old were you when you had your first wine moment and what was it?
I have two wine moments, both of which happened while I was working at a two star michelin restaurant in Copenhagen. I must have been around 22 years old. One was where I was learning how to sabre champagne and the head sommelier asked me to sabre every bottle of Salon 1990 – which we were pouring by the glass! The other was when the owners of the restaurant opened a bottle of Bollinger’s 1969 Vieilles Vignes Francaises for us to taste.
☆ How many bottles do you have in your cellar and what is your most recent addition?
At the moment we have around 1200 bottles in the cellar. The most recent addition is Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 2006.
☆ How many years have you been working in the wine industry and what was your first job?
Just under ten years. My first job was as sommelier at the one Michelin star MR restaurant in Copenhagen. MR offered 6-9 course menus with wine pairings so it taught me a lot about food and wine matching.
☆ Which vintage and region (or wine) do you wish you’d bought a whole case of wine from?
The 1970 Dom Pérignon Oenotheque. The wine is still so incredibly youthful, with a long life ahead of it.
☆ In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?
Syrah. Both from North Rhône and Australia. The more I taste, the more I seem to fall in love with this grape variety.
☆ In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered and why?
I am re-discovering the Yarra Valley. It is such a diverse region with stunning examples of everything from Chardonnay, Roussanne and Marsanne to Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
☆ Who’s your wine idol (who has inspired you the most in the wine world)?
Several people have inspired me along the way including writers like Richard Juhlin, but also someone like Gerard Basset MS MW who has achieved so much, and done so much for sommelerie.
☆ What’s your most memorable wine and food moment?
A plate of 24 month old Comté covered with shavings of white Alba truffle and a glass of Krug 1989. This was truly a memorable moment.
☆ If you could taste/drink any wine in the world what would it be and who would you drink it with?
1996 Hermitage from Jean Louis Chave. I would drink it with my son, Elias, my boyfriend, Clément, and my very good friends, Shana & Ailie.
☆ What’s the highest number of wines you’ve had on one of your wine lists?
When I worked at Pont de la Tour, we had almost 1400 bins on the list at one point.
☆ What the oldest bottle of wine you’ve served?
It was during my waiter apprenticeship in Copenhagen. The sommelier sold a bottle of 1907 Heidsieck Cuvée Diamant Bleu. It was one of the 2000 bottles that were found in a shipwreck in the Finish Gulf in 1998.
☆ What are you most looking forward to about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
I am looking forward to tasting so many wines blind and to discussing the wines with the other judges at my table.
Written by Decanter
Kathrine Larsen MS is Premium Wine Ambassador at Enotria & Coe.