Top UK young sommeliers: part 8
This regular finalist in the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year competition discusses Arsenal, Austrian wine and demanding diners.
Clement Robert, 26, from Medlar in London
Was there a particular wine or wine “epiphany” which made you choose this career?
A bottle of Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1983 when I’d just starting working as a commis sommelier did the trick. I remember being blown away by the complexity, the amazing array of flavours, the intensity, the freshness and the elegance of the wine. I didn’t realise so many different expressions could be found in just one sip.
Are there any parts of your current list that you’re particularly proud of?
I like to think there isn’t a single bad apple on the list, but I’m particularly proud that we sell wines from exquisite estates such as Coche Dury, Sine Qua Non, Case Basse Soldera, Nikolaihof and Dry River.
Which wine styles or regions are exciting you at the moment and why?
I love Grüner Veltliner, especially from Wachau in Austria. It’s been an amazing of source of excitement for me for a while now. I love its personality, complexity and versatility, as well as its potential to age for decades, or equally to be drunk very young depending on the style.
What’s the key to being a successful sommelier?
A passion for wine, a sense of curiosity to keep looking for new things and up-to-date wine knowledge. To be a good sommelier you have to study a lot, taste a lot of wines, travel to the vineyards to get a better understanding of the products and never forget that the winemakers are the stars of the show, not the sommelier.
Are there any wine-related ambitions you would still like to achieve?
I’d like to win the title of UK Sommelier of the Year. I’ve finished second and third before. I’d also like to become a Master Sommelier. It would mean a lot to me to represent my profession. Further down the line, I’d love to have my own Champagne bar one day.
What do you drink on your days off?
I love trying interesting, quirky wines with my sommelier friends, but if I’m chilling with my girlfriend, then I’d opt for a bottle of German Riesling. If I’m watching an Arsenal game, then it would have to be a beer. It all depends on the occasion.
What made you decide to come to the UK to pursue your sommelier career?
Like many French men, I came to the UK to learn English and discovered wines from all over the world, which you’d never find in France. I was bowled over by the amount of wine tastings and masterclasses on offer in London.
What is the one wine you are desperate to try before you die?
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet 1978, one the greatest white wines ever produced in Burgundy.
Who is the most famous person you’ve served and what did you serve them?
Film director Ridley Scott. He was after a claret, so I recommended him a bottle of Château Pontet-Canet 1990. He was really happy with it, which almost got me emotional.
What’s the oddest request you’ve ever received from a customer?
A gentleman once brought his own wine glasses to the restaurant – one for his wife with a sticker on, and another for himself. He ordered three different wines and made me wash the glasses after each one during the meal.
The full collection of sommelier profiles appeared in the drinks business October on-trade report, Eat.Drink, or you can click the options below to see who we’ve profiled so far: