Our Sommelier of the month for February 2016 is Samuel Chantoiseau, a Sommelier at Ballymaloe House. Samuel has very kindly answered a selection of questions which are below along with his response.
What is your industry background, where did you start and where have you been?
I started working at Ballymaloe House, 8 years ago. It was here that I was trained by Colm McCan. Over the last 8 years I have had the occasion to meet numerous winemakers, attend wine fairs and taste and compare some of the world's best wines, specially organic, biodynamic and natural wine.
Do you have a favourite Riedel glass or decanter?
When serving in the dining room, in Ballymaloe, we use the "Degustazione glass (35 cl)" and the "Classic Cabernet Sauvignon/ Red glass (47 cl)" for most red wines. Furthermore we use the Montrachet, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and the Old World Shiraz glasses most evenings. I always use a Riedel decanter, particularly the Merlot and the magnum decanter.
What reaction do you get from customers when you serve their wines in the different varietal specific glasses?
When a guest chooses a particular wine, I suggest the right grape specific glass recommended for that type of wine, for example the Pinot Noir glass with a nice Morey St-Denis from Domaine Dujac.
I am very aware of the importance of tasting wine in the appropriate glass and therefore try to give the most suitable glass to my customers, at all times, for example the Montrachet glass with a Puligny-Montrachet and with any buttery or oaked Chardonnay. Regularly I give the guest the opportunity to compare tasting the same wine, in the regular Degustazione glass and the specific grape varietal glass recommended to go with the wine in question. Almost always the guests appreciate the difference, preferring the grape varietal specific glass that has been recommended. In fact many customers are impressed with the suitable match between a particular wine and a specific glass, such as the large Cabernet Sauvignon glass with a nice St-Julien from Médoc.
What is your best experience in your role to date?
I have had many memorable experiences, but if I have to pick just one, it would be when Anne-Claude LEFLAIVE came to Ballymaloe House, for a very important wine presentation and horizontal degustation of Domaine LEFLAIVE 2008. It was an amazing experience because I had the responsibility to taste all the bottles of wine, ensuring that they were in perfect condition, before the wine Event. Amongst these wines were the Appellations Bourgogne to Bâtard-Montrachet! Mme Leflaive stayed at Ballymaloe for 3 nights and I had the pleasure of meeting with her and having impressionable discussions about wine.
What is your favourite food and wine match and which Riedel glass would you use to serve?
I have many favourite food and wine combinations in my head, but if I have to choose just one I would choose this match:
For the food I would choose a Shoulder of organic Lamb in a "Croûte de Sel" with a nice selection of roasted seasonal organic vegetables and potatoes matched with a natural red wine from Bordeaux the Appellation "Francs Côtes de Bordeaux", for example one of my all-time favourites the Château Le Puy "Cuvée Barthélemy" 2005, serving in the ""Sommeliers Bordeaux Grand Cru Glass", of course!