Unfiltered: Piotr Pietras MS, Launceston Place

Originally from Kołobrzeg in the north of Poland, Piotr Pietras, head Sommelier, Launceston Place, developed an interest in wine at a young age and went on to complete a degree in hotel management. Starting his career near his home town in the Sheraton Poznan Hotel, Piotr soon moved to the five-star City Park Hotel & Residence, taking on the role of head sommelier. Given control of the cellar and wine list, Piotr developed it to become one of the biggest and most diverse in Poland. He moved to London in 2013 to follow his passion, taking on the position of assistant head sommelier at Corrigan’s Mayfair. Shortly after that, Piotr moved to the Michelin-starred Maze by Gordon Ramsay, before joining Launceston Place in 2015.

What’s your vintage?

1988. Pretty good vintage everywhere. Outstanding wines produced in Sauternes and Champagne.

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

Dry, refreshing cider from Eric Bordelet.

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

New beginnings always bring some tough moments. One evening, having two bottles of white wine in the same ice bucket, I started to top up glasses with the second bottle -– an expensive one – which belonged to another table from my section, miserably mixing two different wines. Both couples saw it. This was an embarrassing moment really. Luckily, we managed to sort this situation out.

If you could give your younger self advice when starting out as a somm, what would it be?

Honestly, I would have said to myself to take all the experiences as they are. No matter whether they are good or bad they bring lessons, help us grow and make us who we are. Just follow your intuition, believe in yourself and take it easy.

Has a wine every given you an epiphany? Which one?

I can definitely remember two moments. The first one when I tasted late-harvested, dry Riesling from Rheingau at the very beginning of my wine journey. I was thinking: “Wow, this is out of this world”, contrasting it with the other whites I had tasted by then. The second one, a few months later, when I flew to London for the vertical tasting of Henschke’s Hill of Grace. I still keep my tasting notes from that day.

Which customer habit annoys you the most?

I am not annoyed by my customers’ habits. There is one exception, though when a host –- in front of his guests – tactlessly tries to confront you, test you, etc. That’s when you need to show diplomacy skills at their best.

Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?

Gerard Basset, Isa Bal, Ronan Sayburn. Three different characters from the UK sommelier scene. All, however, equally dedicated – inspiring, mentoring and motivating the younger generation of somms. High-profile, yet very approachable professionals.

What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?

Well-aged Madeira with Roquefort cheese.

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?

It would probably be in Priorat. A small, spirited region with beautiful scenery, far from the crowds. Love the place and I am always impressed by its wines.

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

Perhaps a sports manager or nutritionist.

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

Cortese from Piedmont (Gavi di Gavi).

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

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland. During the UEFA Euro 2012 in Poland, he and his wife stayed in our hotel and dined with us every day. Their national team lost all three group matches. After the last one, they came straight back to the hotel and were so broken-hearted that, instead of their regular meal and a glass of Clos Henri Sauvignon Blanc, they just ordered a cup of cocoa, contemplating for an hour or so.

One Response to “Unfiltered: Piotr Pietras MS, Launceston Place”

  1. Diego says:

    the correct name of the wine is Gavi or Cortese di Gavi, Cortese is only the name of the grape and Gavi di Gavi is a sub-designation not the name of the wine…

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