A warm welcome…
In the heart of Paris, just near the Champs Elysées, stands one of the most beautiful palaces of the capital, built in the Art Deco style in 1928. Its classified façade conceals luxury and refinement. Even so, when you pass the huge entrance, you—nearly—feel at friends'. You are welcomed and greeted with a kindness that goes beyond just courtesy.
Reception is marked here by a true care for others.
After the purchase of the hotel by Prince Alwaleed in 1997, huge works have been undertaken to give back the establishment its former magnitude. The hotel has been revisited in its whole. Architect Pierre-Yves Rochon strived to combine the History of this Parisian architectural heritage with modernity, space and high-tech equipment. After 11 years under the aegis of the group Four Seasons the establishment reworked the rooms two years ago, to make them even more spacious and “residential”.
Scents and flavours of the creative cuisine of Chef Eric Briffard, Best Craftsman of France, delight the palate. Two-starred Restaurant Le Cinq has a cellar of 50,000 bottles, jealously guarded by Eric Beaumard, Europe's Best Sommelier.
… for a magnificent tasting
Surrounded by the smooth scents of the
floral designs signed Jeff Leatham, the sommeliers let themselves guide to the Foyer Vendôme, for a superb working session.
A prestigious selection–125 cuvees–of wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Cahors, but also of Cognac and Armagnac have been submitted to the more than expert palate of professionals from all over the world.
Six out of the twelve Best Sommeliers of the World: Shinya Tasaki, President of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (A.S.I.), Gérard Basset, Serge Dubs, Philippe Faure-Brac, Piero Sattanino and Giuseppe Vaccarini were surrounded by Europe's Best Sommeliers Isa Bal, Paolo Basso, Bernd Kreis and Eric Beaumard, the latter being “at home” as he is the George V's restaurant's director.
Among the illustrious tasters were also Nelson Chow, President of the Sommeliers of Hong Kong, Anton Panasenko, Russia's Best Sommelier, Rafael Reyes Ramos, Spain's Best Sommelier, Tuan Minh Ho, Vietnam's Best Sommelier, Benjamin Roffet, France's Best Sommelier and Craftsman, all joined by Yves Chapier, President of the Sommeliers of Champagne-Ardenne and of course, Jean-Luc Jamrozik, President of the Sommeliers of Paris, both supported by members of their associations.
Nomacorc, partner of the event, was also present to remind the interest of a quality corking to preserve the character and aromas of the wine. Its range of products enriches every year and currently proposes several types of closures, each elaborated to meet different styles of vinification, of demands in the oxygen management and of ageing time.
Arc International, A.S.I. partner, kindly provided the appropriate glasses for this grand tasting.
A gourmet and convivial moment...
As a prelude to the lunch, an aperitif was served in the Salon Chantilly, adorned with beautiful mahogany panels, ancient paintings and art objects, where the mischievous effervescence of the Champagnes, previously submitted to the palates of the sommeliers, made the guests' eyes sparkle.
But the really awaited moment was the opening of the doors of the hotel's ballroom. The Salon Vendôme, magnificent, superbly decorated, had been set in majesty for the occasion. The owners and representatives of each House whose wines had been tasted in the morning were invited to share the lunch with the professionals. It has also been the moment for some souvenir photos, as opportunities to gather as many Grand Sommeliers are rare.
To marvellously underline the selection of wines, the Chef concocted a fabulous menu equal to the event: Vendee Duck Foie Gras with Cocoa Bean Grind, Cevennes Onions and Sweet Red Pepper Confit, followed by a Fillet of Roasted Duckling with Fresh Green Pepper, Rhubarb and Elder Juice, to finish with a Strawberry and Violet Ice cream Vacherin with vanilla-scented whipped cream.
… but also constructive
After the coffee, back to the Foyer Vendôme for the traditional producer-sommelier encounter. The afternoon enabled the Chateaus to approach the personalities for a favoured exchange. But it also was the occasion to meet the sommeliers and wine professionals for a commented tasting and constructive advices.
The day finished with a short thank-you speech by Philippe Faure-Brac who rightly underlined the excellence of the wines and spirits presented, but also the irreproachable quality of the George V team's service.
In turn, we kindly thank the participants, sommeliers, owners as well as the George V's team, for the success of this Prestige tasting.
Sylvia Van Der Velden
Photo report: Michel Jolyot
Video Report: Michel Akrich, Les Productions de l’Ange