Uncorked: Charlotte Page

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Charlotte Page head sommelier Le Comptoir Robuchon

Related tags: Charlotte Page, Joël Robuchon

Le Comptoir Robuchon's head sommelier on growing up in Brittany, her love of the wines of the Loire and pushy somms.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine

I had the chance to grow up with parents who have always been interested in food and wine. I saw them throwing nice dinners, cooking all day and opening nice bottles of wine with friends. I believe that is where it all started. Sunday lunches were always special as well -  we ate fresh oysters and scallops (I am from Brittany) and drunk Muscadet. My parents have the reputation of being good hosts, and I guess they passed it on to me. And also my sister, who is a wine journalist and married a winemaker, while I married a chef. But the true revelation came when I met with Christian Stevanin, the most amazing wine teacher at my catering college. His passion was contagious and he made me a sommelier.

Tell us about your wine list at Le Comptoir Robuchon

The wine list we built at Le Comptoir Robuchon is mainly French. Not necessarily because I believe French wines are better, but in order to match the french food we offer. We try to focus on wines made by winemakers, true wines, wines we are proud to serve. We offer approximately 850 bins, from small wineries of Muscadet to big Bordeaux houses.

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters? eg. dropping an expensive bottle/ordering a case of oxidised Burgundy etc. 

I believe all my previous bosses would have a story to tell you - I have the reputation of being a bit clumsy. But I do remember pouring the wrong wine. I was a commis sommelier at Il Vino by Enrico Bernardo in Paris, and we were pouring at that time ttwo different cuvees from the same winemaker, Jean-Marc Boillot. Thanks to me, our guests drank Grand Cru Bâtard-Montrachet all night and paid for some village Puligny. I still remember the face of the head sommelier in charge that night when he realised.

Name your top three restaurant wine lists

Joël Robuchon in Hong-Kong, Le V at the George V hotel in Paris, La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in London and 11 Madison Square in New York. I realise that's four. 

Who do you most respect in the wine world? 

The winemakers. I’ve always been impressed, and a bit intimidated by them. And the amazing sommeliers I had the chance to work for including François Orisé, Enrico Bernardo, Matteo Ghiringhelli, Xavier Thuizat and Roman Jaen. Hats off to them.

What’s the most interesting wine you’ve ever come across? 

It is impossible to name only one. But I still remember this lunch we had two years ago. My friend had brought a bottle of wine as a blind tasting. And the whole table went quiet after tasting it. It was absolutely stunning and unexpected: Sancerre L’Enclos des Remparts 2014 from Domaine Vacheron. I still remember the flavours today. It might seem boring to name a Sancerre, but this wine was absolutely stunning.

What are the three most overused tasting notes?

Feminine wine, feminine wine and feminine wine. 

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment 

Wines from great winemakers in Anjou and Saumur (in the Loire). 

What is your ultimate food and drink match?​ 

Parmigiano Reggiano and Champagne Vignes de Vrigny by Egly-Ouriet; oysters from Brittany with Muscadet by Domaine de Bellevue; choucroute and Sylvaner by JF Ginglinger; pizza and Barbera Mascarello; and Joël Robuchon’s baby lamb chops and mash potatoes with Hermitage 1999 by Jean-Louis Chave. 

Old World or New World?

Both worlds should appear on the wine lists, but keep in mind I worked in France for 10 years prior to coming to England. I haven’t visited any new world vineyards yet. California is number one on my wishlist of places to visit, then South Africa. 

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants? 

I hate pushy sommeliers. That is my absolute number one pet hate. And the ones who always offer the wine list to my husband first.

Who is your favourite producer at the moment and why? 

I do not have a favourite winemaker at the moment. I was seriously impressed by Vincent Dureuil, domaine Dureuil Janthial when I visited him last summer, and I love the wines of Antoine Sanzay in Saumur. And I was at the Salons de Loire two weeks ago and I tasted serious wines from Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame, Domaine de l’Austral is a good example.

As a head sommelier, what question do you most get asked by customers? ​ 

As a female sommelier, they are often curious about my private life. How could I run a sommelier team and a family at the same time? I’m pretty sure they would not ask this question to male sommeliers.

Which wine producing region/country is currently underrated at the moment and why?

Alsatian wines are not trendy at all here in the UK. And I can tell you this region produces some of the most exciting and versatile wines I’ve found. I visited this region many times, and something is happening there.

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why? 

Right now, I’m hesitating with the following: Montrachet 1996 Leflaive; La Romanée, Comte Liger-Belair, any vintage; La Romanée Conti, DRC, any vintage; Cros Parentoux Henry Jayer, any vintage; or perhaps Châteauneuf du Pape, Réserve des Célestins 1998 Henri Bonneau. 

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