The Sommelier’s Palate – Andrea Fasan, Head Sommelier and wine buyer at La Petite Maison, London

Morey Saint Denis ‘Clos des Montluisants’ 2001 Ponsot (such unique wine made from Aligote) and Salmon sushi, an incredible pairing!” Sommelier Andrea Fasan

(pronounced suh-mal-‘yAy)

In Medieval Provençal times they were saumaliers, animal pack drivers who evolved during Middle French kingdom to become court officials charged with transportation of supplies. So what does a modern day Sommelier actually do? Well, Wikipedia outlines as such, “A sommelier or wine steward is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food matching. The most important work of a sommelier is in the areas of wine procurement, wine storage, wine cellar rotation, and expert service to wine consumers.”

Andrea Fasan, Head Sommelier and wine buyer at La Petite Maison, London

Andrea Fasan, Head Sommelier and wine buyer at La Petite Maison, London

A reasonably accurate job description although perhaps a little parched as our new-age sommelier has evolved to a higher learning with a wine Jedi cognizance and a seventh sense that can psychoanalyse a diner, marry the person, the dish and the wine in seconds. They are now the gateway to wine discovery equipped with clairvoyance in food and wine trends, inspiring thirst around the world.

Feared by winemakers, loathed by wine distributors as the arbiters’ of wine lists, the restaurant patron should embrace their knowledge, skills and talent as they are hopelessly and passionately obsessed with wine and will take you on journey of gastronomic enlightenment. And our new-age sommelier is no longer confined to fine dining and can be found in casual eateries, wine bars, gastro-pubs, winery restaurants, wine stores and you’ll even bump into an air-sommelier at 30,000ft these days. Some have hung up their waiters-friend and metamorphosed to the wine trade as brand ambassadors, distributors or consultants, but once a sommelier, always a sommelier.

This column explores the gustatory and olfactory manifestations of sommeliers all over this planet. We take a cross section of the sommelier’s stomach and intestines to reveal what and where they eat. And we dissect their taste buds and dopamine receptors as they relent to the Wandering Palate narcosynthesis and confess to their personal vinous pleasures and closely-held secrets – this is The Sommelier’s Palate.

Andrea Fasan, Italy

Where do you currently practice your sommelier skills (restaurant, hotel, consulting etc)?

I’m the Head Sommelier and wine buyer at La Petite Maison restaurant London


Where have you dined recently (restaurant) that impressed you?

Ristorante Yagi in Daikanyama Tokyo, Japan, an Italian restaurant with a Japanese twist with a perfect wine selection.


Where have you dined (restaurant, wine bar) that you were mightily impressed with the wine list and service?

Ristorante Guido, Tenuta di Fontanafredda in Serralunga d’Alba, Piemonte.


Where is the most memorable restaurant meal you have had?

It has to be again in Japan, Ukai-tei restaurant (Teppan yaki style) in Yokohama, Japan,  where the chefs cook in front of us, an amazing lunch!


Do you have a favourite regular restaurant?

Le Cafe du Marche in Barbican, London, my favourite French restaurant.


Do you cook at home and is there a dish you have perfected?

Very simple dish, but my Bolognese sauce is just perfect! As my grandmother used to do.


Do you have a favourite wine bar?

Oh Yes, every time I go back home in Italy I like to go to Enoiteca da Nino in Fonte Alto (Treviso), Nino is the owner and an amazing  wine connoisseur.  Cosy atmosphere and the food is great too!


Do you have a favourite wine merchant?

I have few favourites, but at the top of my list I have to mention Robert Rolls for some amazing Burgundies, Reid Wines for some rare and unique wines.


What wine are you drinking at the moment?

My own one, bottle fermented Cartizze from the glera grape variety from Valdobbiadene…I wish I had enough to sell too!


Is there a wine that totally moved you – like no other wine – a revelation and motivation for you to pursue you wine obsession?

Many wines but the one has to be Château Palmer. I have a vertical with several vintages in my wine list at la Petite Maison restaurant in London.


What’s your latest wine discovery – new region, variety or style?

I go to Japan once a year and I discovered the Koshu grape variety from Yamanashi prefecture.  My favourite producer is Château Lumiere and their Koshu is really amazing with food.


Tell us what is your ultimate wine bargain discovery in terms of price/quality rapport? (i.e. does not have to be cheap but over-delivers in quality for the price)

The  2009  Blanc de Rolle, Château Les Sarrins in magnum, a 100%  Vermentino or Rolle has it’s called in Provence which is aged in barrique.


Tell us about an inspirational wine and food pairing that has you have experienced recently. 

Morey Saint Denis ‘Clos des Montluisants’ 2001 Ponsot (such unique wine made from Aligote) and Salmon sushi, an incredible pairing!


What is the most enthralling wine region you have been to in terms of dramatic scenery, inspiring vineyards and good eating?

Barolo and Barbaresco in Piemonte during the truffle season! Unbeatable!


Select a six pack of wines that you think are absolutely outstanding and inspirational, and that will set people on a journey of vinous discovery and enlightenment.

2007 Veuve Forny ‘Vertus’ Blanc de Blancs,

I lately shared a bottle of this champagne with my wife and we were blow away by the amazing complex aroma, minerality and structure. Great with food !

2012 Château de Pibarnon Rose’ Bandol   

One of the best rose’ from Bandol in Provence. I always recommend it with Slow Cooked Duck Legs with Orange Glaze at La Petite Maison, a great matching!.

2012 Domaine de la Source Blanc in Bellet

A small, hilly wine growing area north of Nice in Provence delivering  a fresh, crisp white (Vermentino or Rolle as it called in Provence) with fine aromatics a great pairing with Mediterranean starters.

2001Morey Saint Denis ‘Clos des Monts Luisants’ Domaine Ponsot

Complex with fine oxidation, unique on it’s own for terroir driven bouquet and grape variety, Aligote !

2004 San Leonardo, Tenute di San Leonardo Vallagarina(Trento)

A special terroir driven  place where cabernet sauvignon and merlot deliver a wine which to me is one of the best red wine in italy.

1976   ‘Creato’ Passito di Pantelleria, Salvatore Murana

While on honeymoon I was lucky to meet Salvatore Murana in the island of Pantelleria. Salvatore Murana is Picasso of the sweet wine in the world. He truly follows the nature and the unique terroir of his vineyards delivering amazing Passito sweet wines which to me are the best in the world! The Creato Passito, meaning created by God, it’s a wine that seduce you with a complex, deep concentrated aroma and a never ending length…something that you will never forget…


You might also like:

The Sommelier’s Palate – Master Sommelier Nicolas Clerc MS, United Kingdom
The Sommelier’s Palate – Jacqueline Lewis, Sommelier at Mr Wong, Sydney
The Sommelier’s Palate – Andrea Fasan, Head Sommelier and wine buyer at La Petite Maison, London
The Sommelier’s Palate – Julien Drevon, Head Sommelier at Tetsuya Wakuda’s Waku Ghin, Singapore
The Sommelier’s Palate – Julien HAIE, Sommelier at Winter Garden, The Landmark Hotel, Marylebone Road, London

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