Uncorked: Marie-Paule Herman

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Photo credit: Marie-Paule Herman
Photo credit: Marie-Paule Herman

Related tags: Winnie Toh, Maximal Concepts, The Aubrey, Sommelier, Uncorked, Wine

The group sommelier and senior ops manager at Maximal Concepts on her wine list at the recently launched The Aubrey and her love of riesling and Champagne.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine...

I was 18 and studying subjects that I did not enjoy. My boyfriend at the time was in the industry and worked as a sommelier, he would always be so passionate about wine and beverages and I always found myself to be incredibly interested in it. Because of him, it opened my eyes and made me realise that I wanted to learn more about the wine industry. A few months later, I applied to The Hotelschool in Bruges, Belgium to educate myself in what it would be like to be a specialised sommelier for a year.

Tell us about your wine list at The Aubrey 

At The Aubrey we have a large selection of Champagne with a focus on smaller growers. Our white and red wines are carefully selected with a focus on smaller or lesser-known producers.   The layout of is not traditional in the UK as we have divided the list by the style and type of the wine. As an izakaya, we also have a wide range of sakes from iconic producers and more modern producers who supply us with sparkling and sake on tap. 

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters? 

Of course, everyone does am I right? I remember one moment very well. I was in the middle of service, running around (you know how it is on a busy evening) and I needed a magnum decanter, we had only one, cleaning it quickly I fell on my back in the restaurant I accidentally broke the decanter. Luckily the wine wasn’t in it yet. 

Name your top three restaurant wine lists 

El Cellar de Can Roca in Spain, LQV in Hong Kong and Villa Mas in Spain.

Who do you most respect in the wine world? 

Difficult question, there are so many I have respect for. I would pick two the sommeliers from restaurant El Bulli, where I did my internship in 2010 and 2011. Ferran Centellas and David Seijas are the ones who believed in me and were my mentors, they still are. 

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

A magnum of Stony Ridge La Rose 2003 from Waiheke Island in New Zealand.  It’s a tough one to taste blind, for me it seemed like a mix between Château Margaux and Château Latour. 

What are the three most overused tasting notes?

Fruity, balanced and sweet. 

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

All our German rieslings. I’m a huge fan of the Riesling grape and my goal is to educate our guests better to show them that riesling doesn’t necessarily need to be sweet. I hear too often ‘no I don’t want German riesling as it’s sweet, I only drink Australian rieslings as they are dry’. We have a range of rieslings and only a few are sweet. 

What is your ultimate food and drink match? 

Caviar and off-dry riesling.  

Old World or New World?

I don’t like to use these terms. But if I had to choose it would be Old World. 

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

Dirty wine glasses and smudges - I really can’t stand it.

Who is your favourite producer at the moment and why? 

Peter Jakob Kuhn, his whole range from entry to the big cuvees are just stunning. I love the fact they continue family traditions from generation to generation. It’s one of Germany’s iconic producers and makes some of the finest Riesling in the world. 

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

Where do you buy your wines? 

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

Languedoc-Roussillon. The wines from there are great value for money and are delicious. 

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

Jacques Selosse, Brut Rosé Grand Cru, I love Champagne. It’s the best match with all types of food from oysters to caviar to langoustines to a simple salad or pasta - so people can eat whatever they want when they join me for my last meal. 

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