Unfiltered: Xavier Rousset MS

17th August, 2017 by Lauren Eads

Prior to opening Blandford Comptoir in Marylebone last year, Rousset worked in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, including Le Laurent in Paris and Villa Belrose in St Tropez, before becoming chief sommelier at Hotel du Vin.

Xavier Rousset MS

He was later appointed head sommelier at Raymond Blanc’s Michelin-starred restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, but left in 2007 to set up Texture restaurant with business partner Agnar Sverrisson. The venture went on to win a Michelin Star within only three years, and the team also founded the ’28-50’ wine bars in 2010.

Rousset announced he was leaving the Michelin-starred Texture 28°-50º restaurant group in May 2015 and in 2016 opened French restaurant Cabotte on Gresham Street in the city of London as part of a joint-venture with master sommelier Gearoid Devaney, who is a director of Burgundy importer Flint Wines, as well as Blandford Comptoir.

What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?

Cold beer.

What’s your most embarrassing front-of-house moment?

Having to ask a customer five times to repeat what he wanted as apéritif as I didn’t understand. My English was poor when I first started. He wanted a G&T and I didn’t know what G&T was. All I knew was gin and tonic!! I looked pretty stupid!

If you weren’t a sommelier, what would you be doing?

Winemaker!

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

I regret not having documented and kept somewhere safe all the notes of the wines I have tasted.

Has a single wine ever given you an epiphany?

Very old Madeira does it for me, preferably Terrantez or Verdelho.

Which customer habit most annoys you?

When they want a price reduction after you tell them this is the last bottle.

Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?

Raymond Blanc has been very inspirational – all about top ingredients and seasonality.

What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?

I’m not really that fussed about food and wine matching. Good and simple dishes using top quality ingredients with a good glass of wine – to me, this is the best food and wine matching.

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?

Barbaresco.

Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?

Pinotage and most Sauvignon Blanc (with few exceptions).

Who is the most memorable customer you’ve ever served?

James Brown when he stayed at Hotel du Vin Bristol in 2004, as was singing at Glastonbury. The band came back late at night and one of the musicians went in the kitchen of the hotel to cook dinner for James Brown and his wife. Nobody else was allowed in the kitchen.

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