The world’s best sommelier, Andreas Larsson: «I prefer pleasure to science»
Andreas’ CV is spectacular: His passion for wine was kindled in the mid-90s after visiting the classic French vineyards. He also puts his culinary skills on display on his musical and business Instagram account (@legrandsommelier) with the 100%BlindTasted concept.
«When I first tasted a truly great wine, I was so beguiled I just had to know how this magic drink could express so much, show so much diversity, complexity, and longevity. I had to know everything».
His career skyrocketed when he won the Swedish championships in 2001 and 2002, then became the best sommelier in the Nordic countries in 2002. In 2004 he won the European Championship his first try. After studying constantly, travelling non-stop to wine regions around the world, tasting everything he could get his hands on, and rigorous mental preparation, his dream came true in 2007, when he won the best sommelier in the world competition.
About the competitions, he says, «I did it to learn and improve my skills. Beyond the actual knowledge of wine, there was so much involved in terms of service, language, presentation, communication, and performance skills».
Below is an excerpt of our conversation with him. Enjoy!
In 2007 you were awarded the title of «Best Sommelier in the World«. What do you think makes you special and different from the rest? What does it mean to be you, the Best Sommelier in the World?
Well, it’s hard to talk about someone’s own traits, but I think that a combination of being a good taster with vast knowledge and above all having the ability to communicate the pleasures of food and wine to people and inspire them is what distinguishes any great sommelier. Having that title is a major responsibility but also a great opportunity to be able to travel, meet interesting people, and taste amazing wines.
How did you come up with the 100% TastedBlind concept?
That was more Anthony’s idea and I agreed to work with him on this new tasting format and present the results in a video.
How tough is the best sommelier in the world competition?
Extremely. It’s not just about the theory, which in itself is extremely difficult, or the wide spectrum of tasting of all the different wines and spirits. It’s also about one’s own behaviour, presentation, language, timeliness, charisma, and all the other aspects that a good sommelier has.
Are those of you in the top so different from each other when working with wine?
We all have different personalities with different specialties. Some are more theoretical. I certainly belong to the group that prefers pleasure to science.
For you, what’s the most important thing when preparing a wine tasting?
Being relaxed and well rested, in good shape. Not eating too much right beforehand. I only do serious tasting in the morning before lunch. I don’t like tasting in the afternoon. That said, after a good nap I can start again at night.
What do you think of Spanish wines today?
During my career since the late 1990s I have seen regions and styles emerge that basically did not exist or had been making very simple wine like El Bierzo, Ribera Sacra, Rías Baixas, the southeast like Jumilla, the old vineyards of Madrid, the quality Resurgimiento in La Mancha and the south, as well as the «modern» era in Rioja and the vino de pago movement, so I have felt very attached to them ever since.
Roda (Rioja) and Ferrer Bobet (Catalonia) are at the top of your list of Spanish wines. Are those your favourite wine areas in Spain?
Rioja is undoubtedly an amazing region with a clear identity and style, even if there has been more diversity of style in the last 20 years. Catalonia is probably more heterogeneous in terms of wine styles and variation, but the old vineyards in Priorat, Montsant, and Conca del Barberá certainly produce some extraordinary wines. I must confess that I do love sherry and Andalusia is a fascinating region too.
What changes have you seen in the consumer during the time you’ve been a sommelier? What’s left to do?
It depends to a great degree on the market we’re talking about. Some countries like my home country of Sweden have made huge strides in knowledge and appreciation.
How important is the incorporation of the sommelier in the gastronomic chain?
A very important link between the producer and the consumer, as well as a very necessary link between the kitchen and the servers.
In your opinion, can you educate the senses? How do you detect so many elements in a beverage?
The senses can certainly be taught. It’s not about being a genius, it’s just hard work, memorization, tasting, and staying open-minded, finding a language and a method to describe taste and flavour, being able to communicate.
If you would like Andreas to blind test any of your wines please contact us through this link or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Article sent by: Cris Viguera