Unfiltered: Gareth Ferreira, Core

Gareth Ferreira is head sommelier at Core by Clare Smyth in Notting Hill which opened in 2017 – the same year that he was named the runner up Moët & Chandon UK Sommelier of the Year. Before taking on his current role, Ferreira was assistant head sommelier at private members’ club 67 Pall Mall, serving under the leadership of Ronan Sayburn MS, who he counts as one of his great inspirations. Here, the native South African reveals his difficulty with Pinotage (but admiration for his home country’s evolving wine industry), serving Mick Jagger and how it doesn’t get better than a glass of Jura and plate of aged comté.

Gareth Ferreira is head sommelier, at Core by Clare Smyth

What are your specialities, wine-wise?
I would have to say South Africa as it’s my home country. Since I’ve been into wine the transformation in the South African wine industry has been second to none and it is at its most exciting at the moment. Burgundy is another – it’s probably my first love – although I think as a sommelier you should be well rounded in all countries and regions as every guest has different preferences which we need to accommodate.

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

I keep it simple, a cold beer, but always love a good glass of Champagne.

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

Ronan Sayburn will remember this one – I was a bit frantic during a really busy service once and accidentally grabbed a bottled of Petrus instead of Figeac, which was right next to it and didn’t realise till I’d used the Coravin to pour half a glass already as a customer at the bar commented, “wow someone is having a great glass of wine”, needless to say it was my job to sell the rest of the bottle. It’s funny now, at the time not so much.

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

Find a good mentor, listen and learn from them and have fun while you doing it, give 100% commitment to this wonderful profession and industry because in the end it will give you so much more back.

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

I would say more of a moment that gave me an epiphany, the wine wasn’t bad either though. Back in 2011 I had the opportunity to visit DRC and spent the afternoon in their cellar with the legend Aubert de Villaine as he pulled corks on various bottles going back to the 50s.

Which customer habit annoys you the most?

No shows.

Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?

As a sommelier I look up to so many great chefs, but I’d have to name two of the world’s best sommeliers as my true inspiration and that would be none other than Gerard Basset and Ronan Sayburn.

What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?

Aged Comté and Vin Jaune.

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?

I’d have to say my fantasy vineyard would have Richebourg to the north, Romanée-St-Vivant to the east, La Romanée to the eest and Grande Rue to the south.

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

I grew up playing every sport possible but now I think a pro golfer would be the one I’d have to go for – a good one though.

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

Probably Pinotage, although that’s a bit unfair as there are some beauties out there. What makes a wine impossible to get along with for me makes it the greatest wine for someone else.

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

Mick Jagger

What else would you like to achieve in your life?

There are a few things missing off my Linked In achievements page, but I think those friends and colleagues that know me best will know what my ultimate achievement would be, but I’d love to have an influence on young sommeliers and be a role model for the profession.

What would be your desert Island wine?

Champagne, too many different styles and producers to name.

What is your life motto?

Keep challenging yourself.

2 Responses to “Unfiltered: Gareth Ferreira, Core”

  1. Seymour Ferreira says:

    don’t you hate it when they spell your name wrong

  2. StephenW says:

    Based on the answer to the “most embarrassing front-of-house moment” question, the answer to “If you could give your younger self advice when starting out as a sommelier , what would it be?” would seem to be “When busy, pause, take a deep breath and then double-check the label before pouring…”.
    Have to say I’ve always enjoyed wine when Gareth has been serving – professional, knowledgeable and the right level of enthusiasm. I wish him the best of luck on his journey towards the Master Sommelier qualification.

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