Our Sommelier of the month for July 2015 is David Galetti, Head Sommelier at Le Gavroche. David has very kindly answered a selection of questions which are below along with his response.
How did you get into the wine industry?
As a child my pleasure was going out to restaurants with my parents. If you ask my daughter now if she would like to go to a toyshop or a restaurant she would choose the restaurant. And, being French, you really enjoy the food and of course you get a sip of wine every so often… So I went down the catering road and I found the wine the most interesting of the options – and I still do today.
Even during my military service in 1998 I managed to still be involved in wine and I stayed on at the Elysee Palace for another 10 months after it finished. Then I was at La Tour D’Argent for 3 years and one day Albert Roux visited. He was a great fan of the restaurant, but I did not know Le Gavroche! I was told it was the “institute for Frenchness in London” and, because I needed to improve my English, I gave him my CV. Three days later I had a phone call saying I started in one month…on April 1st - but it was no April Fool. That was in 2001. In 2004 Monica and I left to open Le Gavroche in Mauritius and worked there a year, but it was not a good environment for wine – the wines were not so interesting, and storage was a nightmare. Although it was a good experience we came back in 2005, but there was no longer a position to fill so we went to Clos Maggiore for 3 years before finally returning to Le Gavroche. Monica was here until a couple of months ago, but she is now looking forward to opening her own restaurant next year.
Why do you enjoy using Riedel glassware within your restaurant?
First of all Riedel matches the identity of Le Gavroche – long running with quality of experience. We get customers saying how nice it is to come back to a wine glass that is all about quality and not so much “design”. We serve premium wines every day so we have to provide a premium glass. Riedel is known by everyone as a top brand.
What reaction do you get from customers when you serve their wines in different varietal specific glasses?
They enjoy the fact that if they move from a Burgundy to a Bordeaux we change the glass, and they ask “why do you change this”. We explain it is to bring forward the quality of the wine and at this point we can show people. And their response is “it’s not the same wine”! Sadly we don’t have the space to match every grape with the right glass – that would be ideal.
What’s been your greatest wine experience?
To open a bottle of Romanee Conti 1929 in 1999 at La Tour D’Argent which I remember like yesterday. It is only once in a lifetime that we will have the chance to try such a treasure!
What’s been the funniest wine moment in your career?
The fun part? That is my customers – I always have great fun with the regulars, it’s like a big family.
What’s been your biggest wine faux pas?
It was to let a customer know what I was thinking. I was serving a 1961 Bollinger R.D. and the customer asked me to stop pouring and to please bring a jug of freshly squeezed orange juice. He understood from my reaction that I did not think it appropriate... So the next thing was him shouting “BRING IT TO ME NOW”.