“...every wine lover can and has to take care of his/her proper education and opinion"
Whether you know it or you don't, but as a wine enthusiast you've probably had contact one way or the other with the renowned French sommelière Isabelle Brunet. Educated at the "school of life", her way finally led her to Spain where she soon started working for and with Ferran Adrià at his famous restaurant "El Bulli". But she didn't stop there and kept going with new promising projects. Today, you can meet her at Monvínic, a place 100% dedicated to the experience offered by a glass of good wine in Barcelona.
1. On your website (www.isabellebrunet.com) you call yourself "not qualified sommelière". What do you mean by that?
When I say "sans diplôme" in French...I refer to the school of life! My adolescent years are marked by my parents in a homble village in the South of Chinon. First, Christophe, my brother and sommelier qualified in La Loire infected me with wine. In 1994 in London, Christophe started to travel the world and they offered me his position. It was known already that London was and still is the platform for the wines of the world. This is how I attended all the tastings and travels offered to me during the following 5 years. All with a nice environment of sommeliers & vignerons. Before I came to Spain, I travelled around visiting vineyards as a present to myself.
2. You're from France but have been living in Spain for quite a while now. Champagne or cava?
Neither. It depends on which Champagne or Cava we're talking about.
One can't generalise, let's try not to compare an industrial Champagne produced by a commercial brand with an artisanal Cava elaborated in a fresher region than usual with low yields and a long ageing on the lees.
Some of my favourites don't even come from the official DO Cava. I prefer sparklings with a wine character, with a bit of positive oxidation.
How can I know - as a beginner - if a sparkling is good or not? Having in mind points of guides and critics, DOs,...
I want to use this opportunity to say that every wine lover can and has to take care of his/her proper education and opinion. At the beginning, guides with their evaluations can be helpful to get to know names, regions and types. It may seem hard but all depends on our effort and concentration we apply.
With my humble experience of 20 years, I've learnt to give my opinion without grading the wine immediately. Rather enjoy the moment and live the emotion transmitted by the wine. That's also what I tell my team of sommeliers and the customers frequenting Monvínic.
How can I find the Cava of my taste?
Tasting a lot until you find a vigneron style you like and start to know your own taste. Also, we won't stay with the same cava always. The diversity of styles and tastes are is enlightening.
How do I know if the Sommelier understands my needs?
First of all, if s/he has listened more than s/he's talked.
If s/he looked to find a humble and constructive dialogue.
Then, how the sommelier manages the information and my preferences.
If the recommendations come from a place of heart and not a commercial place based on trends or his/her tastes.
Do you have a favourite food pairing with a sparkling? Want to share it with us?
With only a few euros you can get a 20-year-old Champagne paired with fresh pasta al dente and white truffles.
Also, a Sumoll Espumoso Brut Nature with a 3-year-old "Papada" on the grill.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Isabelle!