The Michelin-starred Drake's in Ripley, Surrey, picked up the Wine List of the Year award in the Good Food Guide 2013. Sommelier Thierry Sauvanot spoke to Janie Manzoori-Stamford
Congratulations on the recognition in Good Food Guide 2013. What does the award mean to you?
It is a real boost to my profession and is the result of many years of work. It is recognition of my passion and hard graft, but more importantly I am so proud for Steve and the rest of the team at Drake's. The wine list, while my responsibility, is compiled with lots of input from other members of the team. We are all delighted.
What makes a good wine list?
It is difficult to get the balance right; it has to reflect knowledge, passion and experience but also be customer friendly. It needs to be easy to read and well balanced, encompassing different grape varieties and blends, regions, winemaking techniques and all price points.
Reflecting my passion, the wine list at Drake's includes wines from small growers, particularly those that use biodynamic production methods. Wine produced in its natural environment and reflecting the region - just like with food - is the secret of a great wine and is an essential part of any good wine list.
How did you develop your career in wine?
The fact that I grew up in the wine region of Chablis put a stamp on my future from an early age. I am also lucky to have worked with the best in the industry. However, it would have been worthless without self-education, passion and an undying interest in wines.
Tell us about a memorable hospitality experience
My time at Pétrus was probably the most memorable. It was a real turning point for me in confirming my passion for wine and I was thrilled when I could open and taste some of the very old vintages (Pétrus 1947, Yquem 1900).
How have wine trends changed in recent years?
People are more educated about wine, with more and more customers having completed wine courses. I have also noticed an increase of mobile apps about wines, which obviously can help with their initial choice. However, it is my job to help clients choose the perfect wine for each course - and no app will ever replace that.
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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