Interview With A Sommelier – Kévin Bardau
20th October 2023
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 France, who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, his name is Kévin Bardau, working at AM par Alexandre Mazzia in France, let’s find out about his life as a Sommelier.
Tell Us About Yourself
“My name is Kévin Bardau, I am 28 years old, I am a native of Orléans and I have been working with Alexandre Mazzia for more than 2 years. I was born into a family where restaurant culture is more than a religion. My parents are restaurateurs, my father was a Michelin-starred chef for 20 years, and once I became a teenager, he took me to great restaurants where my passion for becoming a sommelier was born, just like that.
Watching him chat with the sommelier fascinated me, and later, when I was in high school, we would regularly visit different French vineyards often. Once I obtained my baccalaureate in literature, I trained at culinary school a specialization in sommelier at the Albert de Mun high school in Paris. I had the opportunity to get 2 internships with Pierre Gagnaire, the first in Paris and the second in London, at Scketch, Mourad Mazouz’s establishment. Then, in 2017, as part of my first job, I was hired as assistant head sommelier at Auberge des Templiers, an establishment located in the south of Paris, as assistant head sommelier. A former hunting lodge, it is the last founding member of Relais & Châteaux, created in 1954.
Michelin-starred since 1952, the restaurant was renowned among the creme de la creme of Paris for its legendary wine list. All the biggest names were there. Romanée Conti, Rousseau, Henri Jayer, Raveneau, Georges Roumier, Château Le Pin, Château Haut-Brion, Château d’Yquem, Château Grillet, Coulée de Serrant… The circumstances at that time enabled me to progress very quickly and become manager of the dining room and sommelier. It was very enriching from a managerial point of view. This experience lasted 3 and a half years before I left for Marseille.”
Do You Remember Your First Experience With Sparkling Wine? When It Was And What Kind Of Wine It Was?
“Absolutely. It was in 2010, in Orléans, at Lift, my parents’ gourmet restaurant. It was a Bollinger R.D. 1997.
At the time, I remember it as more of a still wine than a sparkling wine. The tertiary aromatic encourages savouring and pairing with food. A great gastronomic Champagne. Since I was young, I tasted very little and my father only introduced me to sparkling wine very gradually.”
What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?
“As I previously said, my taste for becoming a sommelier was roused by visiting the great Michelin-starred restaurants with my father. Overall, I like excellence, proving organoleptic emotions and the idea of being able to sublimate cuisine with the best pairings. There’s also the fact of flourishing in an artistically rich universe with a multitude of passionate personalities.”
During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising & Interesting Thing You’ve Learnt?
“Until now, my greatest discovery, the most unsuspected and the most interesting lies in this fascination that I have had for 2 years now, shortly after joining Alexandre Mazzia, for the world of sake. Whether it is sparkling or still or whether it is a Koshu or a Junmai Daiginjo, sake, in terms of pairing with the Chef’s compositions, further opens up the field of possibilities and allows us to have access to a range of possible associations that are so incredible. I was literally transcended one day when I tasted a fortified sake for the first time, a Koshu from Sakagura Wakatekaya, from Fukuoka prefecture, on the island of Kyushu. This Denbei Genroku cuvée, aged for more than 60 months, was a stunning hymn to oxidation. Prodigious intensity !!!”
What Sparkling Wine Producing Countries or Regions Hold A Special Place In Your Heart?
“It’s quite variable. We offer a very heterogeneous pairing, featuring sake, still wine and sparkling wine.
Sparkling wine changes very regularly. This can be a Champagne, a Crémant du Jura, a Saumur Pétillant, a Cava or a sparkling wine from England as was the case at the start of the year with Nyetimber.
I had selected their Chérie cuvée, dosed in semi-dry, made from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. A dialogue mixing freshness and sweetness with the Chef’s final sequence, which revolves around the exotic fruits of his childhood and both roasted and floral imprints.”
What Advice Would You Give Inspiring Sommeliers?
“Today, I can only recommend being open-minded and willing to move the lines, to overturn the sometimes sclerotic codes of traditional sommeliers. And of course, to be part of an approach that conveys strong emotions towards our guests.”
Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?
“On the banks of Lake Annecy, in Talloires, in the heart of an environment that I particularly like.”
Thank you, Kévin, for sharing your words, knowledge and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!
Images Credit: David Girard AMoct22@DavidGirard2022 (2 sur 4) / Alexandre Mazzia Sept 2019 salle cuisine-6©Matthieu Cellard. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission, to use them.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.