Portrait of our enthusiastic sommelier
Despite a baccalauréat majoring in science, Gaëtan Gladieux from Brest had no plans to become a sommelier. He studied electronic engineering for three years but then his career path took a new turn and he decided to seek a professional qualification in wine at the prestigious Georges Pertuiset College in Beaune.
His first work placement was at the Cèdre in the town where he trained. Then he spent two years in Australia and it was in the Vue de monde restaurant in Melbourne that he honed his skills, first as a waiter since he had only a poor command of English. He improved his knowledge of the language, however, and was quickly able to provide English-speaking clients with the information they required. After his experience in Australia, Gaëtan Gladieux spent two years in New Zealand and a year in Bali before working as a consultant in Malaysia for four years. In the Maldives and on Mauritius, he worked as Head Sommelier for the Constance Group before joining the Vatel restaurants in Bordeaux.
His best professional memory
Every year on Mauritius, the Head Sommelier would organise the Bernard Loiseau Festival and Gaëtan Gladieux still enjoys taking part in the ceremony that pays homage to the famous Chef. During the week-long gastronomic event, chefs with Michelin stars join forces with island chefs to create the most mouthwatering dishes for the jury.
His arrival at Vatel
It was at the Bernard Loiseau Festival that the Head Sommelier met the Director of Vatel Mauritius and students from the college. The offer of a job in an establishment that combined training and service quickly attracted Gaëtan Gladieux and he decided to come back to France, especially as he was beginning to miss his connections with the country’s vignerons.
How do you feel when clients experience the thrill of discovering prestigious wines?
When I succeed in finding exactly the right wine, the one that is just what a client is looking for, I have a real sense of satisfaction. It means I have fully understood what the wine connoisseur is looking for and have been able to offer the perfect wine. I also like it when consumers are interested in the history of the wines.
In your opinion, what qualities must a sommelier possess?
A good sommelier is somebody who, first and foremost, has extensive knowledge of wines and is able to pass this knowledge on to consumers. Wine is a noble, emotive product and its history, the history of its producers and its region, deserves to be told. However, although a sommelier is a veritable mine of information, he or she must remain modest and able to share his or her expertise in such a way that everybody understands it. Last but not least, a good sommelier must be able to identify consumers’ likes and dislikes and sometimes exceed their expectations.
How did you acquire this love of wine?
My love of good wine, good food and the concept of sharing comes mainly from my family.
When I was young, I remember long Sunday lunches, the scent of smoked fish from my home region and, most of all, the bottles of wine on the table. There was never any shortage of wine at family get-togethers because my grandfather had his own vines and he made his own wine with members of a wine cooperative.
Can you give us a few of your favourite wines?
It’s difficult for me to draw up a list of my favourite wines! However, I like to ensure that my cellar never runs out of Domaine de la Grange des Pères, Clos des Grives Domaine Combier, Armand Rousseau and a wine from South Africa known as Cartology.
Which country do you think makes the best wines?
Although wines from all over the world are enjoying increasing success, there is no doubt that France remains at the top of the list.
Are there any vineyards you would recommend to our clients?
If you come to France, you can’t leave without a visit to Laurent Vaillé’s beautiful vineyard, La Grange des Pères, at Aniane in Hérault.
In which hotel do you dream of working?
I’m not looking for luxury hotels or 5-star establishments. One day, I may even open my own business – a small restaurant or a wine bar.