Interview With A Sommelier – Francois Bertrand

9th April 2024

Interview With A Sommelier Francois Bertrand

The World of Wine is beautifully showcased by an army of talented Sommeliers, who help the consumer discover their next favourite bottle, understand the different regions and pair a delicious meal with the right Glass of Bubbly.

In this feature, I speak with a man from, England, who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, his name is Francois Bertrand, let’s find out about his life as a Sommelier.

Tell Us About Yourself

“Hello, My name is Francois Bertrand MCA, I am the Head Sommelier for Pan Pacific London.”

Do You Remember Your First Experience With Sparkling Wine? When It Was And What Kind Of Wine It Was?

“Yes, absolutely. It was a tasting with the sommelier team at Raymond Blanc ‘Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons’ in Great Milton (Oxfordshire) during my first year in the UK, back in 1997. It was a vertical from Chapel Down Estate and I remember being very impressed by the quality of the various different products, especially the Blanc de Blancs Cuvée.”

What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?

“I did initially study to become a chef when I was young before discovering I was more attracted by the front of house side of things with a desire to discover the world of wines from France, Europe and beyond, which was very new back in the 90’s.”

During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising & Interesting Thing You’ve Learnt?

“Most certainly that wine tasting is about impressions, feelings and the exchange of ideas and opinions. Never a competition nor a way to impress and put down others. It can help create special moments and encourages people to get together.”

What Sparkling Wine Producing Countries or Regions Hold A Special Place In Your Heart?

“Well, there are so many, and all have their various plus points for different reasons, but here are my top three from my travels and across the world of vineyards:

Ca del Bosco Cuvée Royale NV is a very pleasant wine from the Franciacorta area (Italy), my equivalent to Champagne with a delicate aftertaste. Tasting this was my lesson into why the Italians can produce exceptional products that aren’t just Barolos and Super Tuscans….

Cloudy Bay Pelorus 1996 Blanc de Blanc, Marlborough, (New Zealand), everything that makes a great sparkling wine tasted in 2010 at UMU restaurant with one of the best Japanese cuisine available in London, that 100 % Chardonnay from across the world did show the complexity of aromas and freshness with light bubbles, that is what made me fall in Love with the New Zealand’s Sparkling wines

Last but not least, far from it, a Méthode Cap Classique Cuvee Pongracz Brut NV, named after a Hungarian Aristocrat who moved to South Africa to escape communism after the Second World War. It’s a lovely blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with great intensity, rich with a well-structured body and my go to for romantic evenings (forgive me, I am French Still ). What’s more, it’s widely available in the UK at less than £15 /bottle online.”

What Advice Would You Give Inspiring Sommeliers?

“I’d say to them, to stay curious, keep learning and keep tasting new wines, all the time – do not be afraid to exchange ideas and express opinions either.”

Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?

“It was after a massive tasting that I did in 2005 in the late Mirabelle Restaurant on Curzon Street Mayfair with a group of friends. We decided to buy a magnum of Bollinger 1992 to drink after all the wines we tasted before. The taste was just beyond this world, a perfect combination of body brought by the Pinot Noir, yet with an amazing freshness and acidity. This experience showed me and some of my closest friends from the same industry, some of whom were and are still today working for other Champagne houses or big brands thinking that this particular vintage was not to be considered a great one by most of the professionals around, that we were wrong. The best of the best doesn’t automatically have to be with wines or/ and cuvees that lay within the common paths or are always the most well-known, but that going to less renowned vintages, brands, as well as thinking outside the box can really pay off and show you amazing products you may not have tried before.”

Thank you, Francois, for sharing your words, knowledge and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Images belong to Pan Pacific London. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission, to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.