Fabrice Sommier was born and raised in Chateauroux, in a modest family, close to the land and keen to transmit the "taste of good". His grandfather was a breeder of all kinds in Selles-sur-Cher, market gardener, gardener, cheese maker, and even winemaker. As a child, Fabrice Sommier also accompanied his father who maintained a vegetable garden and raised a few rabbits. Meilleur Ouvrier de France in sommellerie 2007, Saké Sommelier and Master of Port (Best sommelier in Port wines) in 2010, he is also the only French sommelier (still today) to be part of the Nespresso club as a Coffee Sommelier. Since 2018, he has been CEO of the Georges Blanc group.
The "Morgeot Rouge 2017" interview
Can you describe how you taste this red Morgeot 2017?
A very brilliant ruby red color with a touch of evolution. A fond nose of red fruits with a touch of liquorice. The attack is clean and dense with very fresh tannins, little power but elegance.
What is the ideal atmosphere for drinking a good wine?
Drinking a good wine is above all a story of pleasure. Feasting is also a story of sharing. Share a good time with the people you love, whom you appreciate, in a pleasant setting with a good meal.
A culinary pairing comes to mind when tasting this wine?
This wine goes beautifully with a smoked duck breast accompanied by a porcini mushroom sauce. It is with this pairing that I discovered this wine.
Your best tasting memory? Perhaps with your grandfather?
Indeed, these moments of tasting are incredible memories, surely the best. I also have very beautiful memories with my sons, moments of sharing surrounded by love.
How did your passion for wine come about?
I was barely 2 years old when my grandfather Jean, taking advantage of my parents leaving for the afternoon, took me on a tour of the barrels. He had even taken care to take off my T-shirt so as not to stain me! He made me taste easily with a pipette all the barrels of Oberlin, Baco, Noa, Othello and other partially fermented grape juices. In the evening, when my parents returned, he proudly announced that everything was going for the best in the best of all possible worlds! However, when my mother undressed me, she discovered a bodysuit stained with wine stains... My grandfather swore to his great gods that he had nothing to do with it... but no one believed him! A few years later, he made me taste, at the table, my first glass of Bernache (a grape juice in the process of fermentation and therefore full of gas and sugar) while making me sort whole walnut kernels.
A ritual established by my father was to go to the restaurant one Sunday for lunch every quarter. Not those starred restaurants that made me dream and salivate… but simply good and inexpensive little restaurants. The meal was always washed down with a “coup de blanc blanc”, often a Sauvignon from the Oisly region. Then it was a little Bordeaux, a Côtes du Rhône or a good Beaujolais (my father always had a weakness for Morgon). I had the right to taste it and I loved this moment when I could finally do like the grown-ups! One day, in one of these restaurants, it was a mess: everyone was in "the juice" and the owner did not know where to turn. From the height of my 12 years, I offered to help him. She looked at me and laughed before discreetly letting me go to the kitchen… I discovered the joys of dishwashing and was able to lend a hand in sending desserts.At the end of the service, I was hired for the next school holidays
After the kitchen I went to the dining room then to the bar. The kid that I was had just discovered his way. Service, like cooking, means being available to others. It is a strong and incredibly beautiful gesture, an act of love, close to the gift of self. Nothing to do with being a minion as we can often hear, on the contrary! These are trades of rare nobility. My passion for the hospitality industry has grown over the years. My teachers then pushed me to join a hotel school in Thonon-les-Bains, one of the best known and renowned at the time! When my parents discovered the amount of the registration fees, my father told me, with a heavy heart, that it was not possible. I will never forget his face and his red eyes. Against all odds, I chose the path of apprenticeship.
I took my first steps in Tours with Jean Bardet (2 Michelin stars) as a young assistant sommelier, while preparing an additional mention in Saint Cyr on the Loire. I thus discovered a passion for wine in contact with Michel Desroches, a sommelier from Berry. Humble but endowed with formidable knowledge and exceptional human qualities.
Which person, winegrower, chef, has marked you and been a source of inspiration for you?
Wine consumption in France has evolved since your beginnings, we often hear that we consume " less but better”. Is this your point of view? How do you analyze this?
Indeed, it is a reality. Consumers are better informed, access to information is easier and faster to find. Consumers are also more curious and keen to enjoy culinary experiences that are always better and more surprising from each other. I also think that consumers prefer to consume less wines but of better quality.
2007 is a special year for you since you obtained the title of MOF in sommellerie. What does this award mean to you?
Meilleur Ouvrier de France was first and foremost a goal of excellence, the desire to excel, to return to a family. With a strong word: worker. My father was a worker all his life. For me, it's only the beginning of a story and it's a story that continues... But it's certainly not a consecration!
In your opinion, what are the main qualities of a sommelier?
The profession of sommelier is an extraordinary profession, we are this invisible link between a winegrower and a customer. Going through the understanding of a chef's cuisine. The profession of sommelier is both that of a spokesperson and an ambassador. This profession is fortunate to know a great feminization, I find that extraordinary. Women taste sometimes better than men because some of them have a great sensitivity which brings a lot of sweetness in the tasting. There are also more and more knowledge and requirements in the world of sommellerie.
Can you explain the concept of the “my first chord” experience? Who is it for?
I've always wanted to introduce the little ones to gourmet pairings Because even if gastronomy has evolved, the need to eat in a gourmet and spiritual way is always growing. Learning the right gestures from an early age means putting meaning and pleasure back on our plates! Ten years ago, with the help of Christophe Cuinet (talented cheesemaker in Villard les Dombes) and Nicolas Bernard (editor-in-chief of La Voix de l'Ain), we set out to meet young primary school pupils the school group of Grièges (01) and the older ones at the Saint-Joseph college in Saint-Didier-sur-Chalaronne (01). The idea? Introduce them to cheese and fruit juice pairings. This experience highlights their thirst for discovery and above all their desire to learn. Watching my boys, Clément and Hadrien grow up, my desire to transmit taste, beauty and goodness grew even stronger. The Georges Blanc restaurant, where I have been officiating for 18 years, is a wonderful live sensory analysis laboratory. But between sodas and sugary drinks, it is clear that parents have often abandoned their role of transmission. I am delighted that they take their children to the restaurant to give them a taste of good things, but often the “drink” aspect remains on the sidelines. In the end, the trigger came by chance from a discussion with Alain Milliat: he told me that the Sauvignon used for his fruit juice came from Selles-sur-Cher, a small village in Loir-et-Cher where my grandfather John. The latter made, among other things, delicious goat cheeses… And since the Selles-sur-Cher / Sauvignon juice pairing is a bit like my own Proust madeleine, the link was found! This pairing worked naturally through its gluttony. The richness of the cheese was coated in the tangy and sweet hint of the grape juice, it offered a fruity note in the mouth with a finish on a touch of exotic fruits.
Part of your job today consists of working with large retailers since you are notably the wine and spirits muse for the Casino group; what does the sale of wines and spirits in GRD represent for you?
The sale of wines and spirits in supermarkets is the possibility for everyone to be able to buy quality wines at reasonable prices. An essential introduction to wine to allow everyone to discover this universe even better and above all to be able to have fun.
You are also a "Coffee sommelier at Nespresso", it's very interesting, can you Can you explain to us what it consists of? And why did you do that?
The Coffee sommelier Nespresso organizes seminars twice a year for sommeliers from all over the world. The objective is to train them around a very interesting parallel: that of great wines and coffee. An equally exciting universe that I did not know at all and that I then discovered thanks to these seminars.
What advice would you give to young students who want to get started in the world of wine?
Be curious, be available, be gourmet, be passionate, and above all a essential quality: be sober! I also want to say to this young person, do not believe in everything you are told, seek, go further, allow yourself to question everything but do it with intelligence and respect. Train your palate to its requirements and not to stereotyped ideas. Be always at the service of winegrowers.
Finally, how are you coping with your confinement? And what is your most beautiful bottle opened during this confinement?
I experience confinement like a large number of people with frustrations of course, but nevertheless I am lucky to be in the countryside and to have a garden I took the opportunity to tidy up my cellar and I came across a bottle from my grandfather's vines. It was a great moment of emotions with tears at the end of the glass...
Comments collected by Arthur Pollet
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