• Wine Lists

    FOCUS MORE IMPORTANT THAN SIZE IN WINE LISTS, SAYS TOP SOMM

    1st August, 2017 by Patrick Schmitt

    “It’s more important to have a focused list than lots of wines,” says Julia Oudill, a sommelier turned general manager who oversees the drinks selections at outlets in London and more recently Ibiza too for a company called The Experimental Group.

    Oudill made the comment when speaking tothe drinks business last month as part of a series of profiles on people in the wine trade who are bringing dynamism to the sector.

    Currently looking after the wines on offer at the Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in Neal’s Yard and the newly-opened Chess Club in Mayfair, as well as managing the Experimental Beach Ibiza, Oudill splits her time between the UK and Spain, tailoring the drinks selection according to her audience.

    Having told db that it’s more important to have a focused list than lots of wines, she explained that she has created a 300-strong wine selection for the Ibiza outlet that showcases the new wave of crisp Spanish whites and rosados. Among the Spanish wines on the list are magnums of Albarino from Zarate and Albamar and standard bottle formats of pink wines from Avancia in Valdeorras and Totem Wines in Ibiza – the rosados chosen to tap into the huge demand for pink wines on the island, above those from the south of France (the club also carries Provençal pinks from well-known producers such as Miraval and Minuty).

    But whether it’s Oudill’s lists in London or Spain, it’s Champagne that’s her great passion, particularly low-dosage and pure Chardonnay cuvées – a love that she ascribes to an immersion in the wines of the region having won a sommelier award from a Champagne house in 2009.

    Later that same year she was named the best student sommelier in a competition sponsored by Michel Chapoutier, explaining her early rise to prominence – due to turn 28 years-old in October, Oudill has achieved much at a young age.

    Although Oudill is French, having been born in the southern French town of Pau, she expresses no strong urge to work in her native nation, and enjoys splitting her time between London and Ibiza, although she has a strong desire to travel.

    Like most people working in the hospitality sector, her dream is to have her own place, but such is the pace of change at The Experimental Group, she wants to stay with her current employer “as long as she can”.

    Keeping her enthused are her customers. “I meet different people all the time, that’s why I love this job,” she says. However, for those who don’t know her, she tells db that she does elicit a surprise reaction on first meeting. And that’s because, she records, when people ask for the sommelier, they expect someone much older and male.

    This profile featured in full in the August edition of The Drinks Business and was run in partnership with Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, which seeks to identify members of the UK wine trade “who have brought innovation and dynamism to the sector”.

    Over the following pages are the French and Spanish wines feature on Oudill’s list at the Experimental Beach Ibiza.

  • Spirit Education WSET

    Demand for spirit education ‘higher than ever’, says WSET

    4th August, 2017 by Annie Hayes

    The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) is witnessing “record demand” for its courses, with candidate numbers up by 19% on the previous academic year.

    The WSET is witnessing “record demand” for global wine and spirit education

    The WSET welcomed a record 85,487 candidates in the academic year finishing 31 July 2017, marking 15 years of growth for the educator.

    The UK continued to lead the WSET’s top markets, with candidate numbers up by 14% to reach 19,401.

    Mainland China and US followed closely behind, with candidate numbers up by 41% to 12,813 and by 48% to 11,487 respectively.

    As consumers increasingly favour more premium brands, the need for knowledgeable staff is “greater than ever” according to the WSTA. This is encouraging businesses to prioritise formal training and accredited qualifications for staff.

    “I am delighted to see that more and more businesses are recognising that education and well-trained staff are the foundations to better customer service and stronger profits,” said Ian Harris, WSET chief executive. “After another successful year for WSET we’re now setting out strategies to take our progress to the next level.”

    In the last year, the WSET welcomed more than 100 new programme providers, taking the number of approved sites up to 750 across more than 70 countries.

    The educator opened its first international office in Hong Kong, and launched courses in new markets including Czech Republic and Montenegro.

    Looking ahead, the WSET will be cementing its presence in the US market with the appointment of a dedicated team.

    Karen Douglas, WSET director of education, added: “The new academic year will also see the release of an improved Level 2 Award in Spirits following the hard work of our global education team to make sure WSET offers the most up-to-date and best-in-class education through its network of approved programme providers worldwide.”