“I recently tried a Chilean vineyard Nebbiolo Cresmachi Furlotti 2004, which was spectacular, very good evolution in the bottle, a revelation.” Francisco Carvacho, Sommelier at El Mundo Del Vino, Santiago de Chile
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.”
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.
Francisco Javier Marambio Carvacho, Chile.
Where do you currently practice your sommelier skills (restaurant, hotel, consulting etc)?
I am currently working for a chain of stores specializing in wines, called El Mundo Del Vino, with several stores in Santiago de Chile, and also presto private consultations.
Where have you dined recently (restaurant) that impressed you?
The resto-bar ‘The Citizen’, located in the district of Santiago de Chile Italy, excellent homemade pizzas in a stone oven, along with a good selection of craft beers.
Where have you dined (restaurant, wine bar) that you were mightily impressed with the wine list and service?
It was in the restaurant Rara Avis, Solis Theatre, located in Montevideo, Uruguay, Dining edge senior, very careful attention, excellent wine cellar and wine menu.
Where is the most memorable restaurant meal you have had?
My most memorable meal was not exactly in a restaurant, it took place last year during my visit to Mendoza was among vineyards at the foot of the Andes, on my visit to Finca La Chamiza winery, where we enjoyed a memorable typical Argentine barbecue prepared with the branches of the vineyard, which gave the meat and roasted squash a special touch, all accompanied by fine wines from the cellar.
Do you have a favourite regular restaurant?
I could tell you what I have visited lately; I was pleasantly surprised the resto-bar The Citizen, and this could be one of my favourites, but generally try to vary and always look for new sites.
Do you cook at home and is there a dish you have perfected?
If I cook at home, I enjoy cooking for my family and friends, I adore you pasta and Italian cuisine, should be by my ancestors, hahaha. So I have gradually been perfecting my pastas and pizzas.
Do you have a favourite wine bar?
Yes, but no longer exists, when I lived in Caracas, Venezuela, I loved to go to a wine bar called Grapes, was excellent its wine list and selection of wines by the glass, plus have great tapas, and careful attention.
Do you have a favourite wine merchant?
I actually have two traders favourite wines, I know from my stay in Venezuela, one is IALCA, with those working for three years as Marketing Manager Wines & Sommelier and one in Di Masi, with whom I have a very good friendship and were characterized by an excellent range of labels from around the world.
What wine are you drinking at the moment?
The truth is I do not usually have a fixed wine or wine of the moment, the ground being in constant search for new wines, new areas production, also new strains, it is the only way to keep my palate trained and stay up to date with the latest news the world of wine.
Is there a wine that totally moved you – like no other wine – a revelation and motivation for you to pursue you wine obsession?
There are several wines that have moved me, speaking in sensory terms, to name a few: A Enrico Serafino Barolo vintage 1991 Axis Mundi wineries Pisano, Cinsault Old jars; Gallardia Rose, Old Bush Vines Las Cruces all these Viña De Martino, Brioso Domain Del Plata Winery, Vineyard wines Progressive Uruguay, Carmelo Rodero 2001 Reserva Ribera del Duero, Ironstone Reserve Old Vines Zinfandel 2007, Trisquel Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Aresti, Bouza do Rei Albariño 2011, the wines Valtravieso wineries, Esporao Reserva 2009, the wines of duo-Galarreta Rolland, Lamadrid Single Vineyard Reserva Bonarda 2008, you see that many and that I was left some in the pipeline!
What’s your latest wine discovery – new region, variety or style?
I recently tried a Chilean vineyard Nebbiolo Cresmachi Furlotti 2004, which was spectacular, very good evolution in the bottle, a revelation.
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)
Villalobos is a Chilean Carignan of Wild vineyard that I probe recently, a very good wine and excellent value for money.
Tell us about an inspirational wine and food pairing that has you have experienced recently.
There are several inspiring wines in my logbook, as named above, are wines that I always remember the moment, the company, the environment and the sensations when being drunk. If I had to mention a memorable pairing, I would say it was one I put together in a tasting that given in the context of a festival gastonomia and wines in the city of Merida, Venezuela, which harmonizes white and red wines of Viña De Martino with chocolate appetizers, the tasting was actually more annotated by the attending public and to this day he is remembered as one of the best, the wines and harmony.
What is the most enthralling wine region you have been to in terms of dramatic scenery, inspiring vineyards and good eating?
Definitely first vineyards in height and has De Martino in the fourth region of Chile, in the Elqui Valley, 2,250m above sea level, the scenery is amazing; and secondly Mendoza in Argentina.
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.
My six would be elected:
-. Luis Cañas Reserva Seleccion Vintage 2001 Family (Harvest Historica in Rioja).
-. Enrico Serafino Barolo 1991 harvest.
-. Ironstone Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel 2007.
-. Axis Mundis 2003 vintage of Bodegas Pisano.
-. De Martino Single Vineyard Old Bush Vines Las Cruces.
-. Bouza do Rei Albariño 2011.