Gabriele del Carlo was named ‘Best Sommelier’ in a competition in Italy in 2011. Originally from Tuscany, this young wine expert quickly rose to the top of his field. A former colleague in Italy recommended him to luxury hotel, Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris where he has been a sommelier since 2010.
MaVieFrançaise® caught up with Gabriele himself to hear his story and talk about il vino.
Gabriele, how would you describe yourself in three words?
Positive, passionate and strict.
What is it like to work in such a historic and prestigious Parisian restaurant and wine cellar?
It’s like a dream! Each day you have the chance to open and taste some of the best wines in the world. It can’t get any better!
Tell us about your journey to become sommelier at Le Cinq.
My journey began in Lucca, Central Italy, at a small osteria called ‘I Santi’located in the Anfiteatro Square, where the owners had a great collection of French and Italian wines. Since the first day [I spent there], I needed to satisfy my curiosity about this new world… and I haven’t stopped yet.
The winecellar at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris is known as a hidden treasure, with a total of 50,000 bottles. Each year, the cellar is ‘reinvigorated’ with twenty new selections. Can you tell us about your yearly selection process?
Mr. Eric Beaumard, Director of Le Cinq restaurant and head sommelier, decides every new wine that will be on our amazing wine list – but the process of tasting and travelling is shared with his team. The last vineyard we went to was in Alba, Piedmont [in north-west Italy]. After a couple of days trying wines, we decided to choose a Nebbiolo from Luciano Sandrone to be served by the glass in our restaurant.
Tell us about the oldest bottle of wine you have in the cellar at Le Cinq. Will it ever be opened – and if so, what would be the occasion?
The oldest wine is a Madeira 1795 Terrantez grape, bottled in 1999. I cannot wait for the day it will be ordered by one of our guests.
We recently watched a video clip about the closure of the cellar at Hôtel George V during World War II. Have any particularly interesting wines survived from this period?
Unfortunately, no, simply because the previous owner sold the whole stock of wines when it was taken over by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I would be champagne, just because you can open it… anytime and anywhere.
What is your favourite food and wine pairing?
One of my favourite pairings (that I discovered in France) is Comté cheese from the Jura, together with a glass of Château Chalon. It is a special wine from the same region, [Franche-Comté] with [a] noblesse oxidative flavour, including a whole range of nuts that marry perfectly with this cheese.
1. Sommelier of the year 2011 via Style.it/cucina.
2 – 4. Le Cinq wine cellar, Kala Barba-Court for MaVieFrançaise®
By Judy MacMahon