A Kiwi Sommelier in France
When and how did you first get into wine?
I was working at a restaurant in California where my manager noticed I had a special interest in wine. He encouraged me to pursue the sommelier route and told me to work a harvest. That was 4 harvests ago now.
What is your favourite wine?
I really don’t have one, I drink everything. If you were to say what do you want to drink right now, I would say pour up some Champagne. That’s the first thing that comes to mind.
What is your favourite wine from Gilles Robin?
Les Marelles, the white blend, it’s easy drinking, you can have it anywhere any time. Stylistically it’s slightly different from the other wines around that region because it’s not as ripe and honeyed, it’s a bit dryer. It’s hard to choose when you participate in the making of them all, because they’re all your favourites. The one I fell in love with before I worked there was the Alberic Bouvet.
What is the most popular wine people ask after at Orphans Kitchen?
With our New Zealand customers we get a lot of requests for Pinot Gris. A lot of people are after the fleshy, textural aromatic whites. Travellers to New Zealand want to taste wine from New Zealand so that’s what our focus is on.
What other regions did you visit while in France?
We did venture around Savoie on the way to Italy, drinking some fabulous Roussannes, Jacquères, and Persans. We also went to Voiron, to visit the distillery of Chartreuse. I didn’t actually visit any other wine regions in France but we did drive the 5 hours over to Italy and spent the weekend travelling around Piedmont, drinking a lot of Nebbiolo.
What was the favourite meal from your trip?
There was a gentleman who cooked for us on the Domaine most days during harvest. His cooking was fabulous! One day I recall particularly well, he’d made braised beef with a cauliflower gratin, a tomato salad with herbs and shallots from his garden and braised carrots with olives.
What was the most influential thing you gained from your trip to the vineyard?
Pride in your work. That was the one thing that shone brightly for me working with the very small team. Nothing but excellence. That’s what is expected. Watching people work at that level of professionalism was hugely influential to me.
Did you have a good time with the team at Domaine Gilles Robin?
It was unforgettable. We got along very well, I was very lucky.
What souvenir did you bring back?
Many. Gilles was very generous. He took me into their stock room and said what do you want. So I got sent home with 2 magnums! I had to leave stuff behind to fit them in my luggage! I got the St Joseph 2015 and the Les Marelles.
A happy Vanessa
Vanessa with the Gilles Robin family