Bastien aged 25, is the Head Sommelier at Hibiscus, London. The wine list reflects his passion to source unique wines from small conscientious producers.
When did you first begin working with wine?
I started to step into the madness and passion of wine in 2007, in Provence.
After three years of catering school, I studied at Sommelier school in the Languedoc for two years whilst doing my apprenticeship in a 2 Michelin restaurant in Provence.
The place was rocking, buzzy, fun, and it had a huge wine list of wine from all over France. I visited lots of winemakers, wine bars, restaurants, distilleries, breweries, meat farmers etc. I became completely addicted to all of these gastronomical pleasures and discoveries!
How would you describe your style of service?
Well, this is never easy to answer, obviously my background and workplace represent Michelin’s fine dinning standards.
However, I have always been lucky enough to work in roles that allow me to express myself freely, with a massive funky twist!
Back of house, I am very sharp and organised, this allows me to 200% freestyle on the floor. I can provide our guests with a fun experience. We change the wines as often as we want to always showcase something new and exiting.
My only goal it to make sure our guests have a great time with fantastic drinks, delicious food, with a superb friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
Please can you describe an inspired wine moment?
Sipping some Meursault 04 Coche Dury with my good friend Ludovic Engelvin, a piece of Saint Felicien cheese, during our afternoon break when we were both working in a restaurant in Provence.
What advice/knowledge would you pass on to anyone who aspires to work with wine?
Taste, taste, taste…..and draw maps again, again, again and again.
Try to spend time with the winemakers, by visiting their places or going to wine fairs/tastings as they will always be your best source of information.
Go out, explore, read but do not forget that real life happens around you, by talking with other professionals, customers, wine buyers….
(We all talk a bit more around a nice glass of wine too!)
What do you think affects the experience of a guest the most (other than the wine itself)?
I think the way in which you present a product is extremely important.
We're all bored of things that are too technical. For example when you read the back label of a packet whilst food shopping - you want simple and clear information. I apply the same idea when describing a dish or a wine - I try to be precise and technically perfect. I believe a sommelier is there to share his or her knowledge of the products, not to show off his knowledge.
Once again, I believe its really important to create a fun experience! And for that you need to really listen to your guests to understand their needs and wants (and more so to what they do not want!) to create a great experience.
If you were to champion anything, what would it be? (e.g. region, grape, style etc)
Good wine made by great people.
What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?
Every day is a different party!
I am very lucky to work in a creative environment with a regularly changing menu, that offers me the pleasure - and hard work - to change the wine selection very very often!
What would be your wine choice in the following situations…
A fresh and flinty Pinot Blanc by Schueller in Alsace (in case I get my hands on some massive oysters!).
A super juicy, explosive Barbera by Cascina Tavijn.
A delicately sweet Jurancon by Souch with a few years in bottle.
Casot des Mailloles, Canta Mañana Rosé, this wine will make you go crazy ! We say “Le Canta ça rend Fada”
Tell us your wine secret….
Plooop (sounds when you open a bottle).