Guilbaud’s Head Sommelier Shares His Wine Tips

White, rosé and red wine

As colder evenings draw in, James Brooke, Head Sommelier at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud shares his favourite tipples.

As autumn slowly begins to settle in, it will give me the opportunity to drink richer more complex styles of wine compared to what I was drinking over the summer. At this time of year I will usually reach for maturer wines from regions such as Piedmont, Tuscany, The Northern Rhone, Jura, Priorat and Burgundy.

Some of my favourite autumn food and wine pairings are perfect for entertaining friends as the evenings become shorter. I recommend that you try oven roasted pheasant, with a sauce made from the roasting juices alongside a mature Burgundy or Barolo. These medium bodied wines develop wonderfully complex aromas as they age and match the gaminess of the bird perfectly. At this time of year I enjoy aged Comté with Vin Jaune, which is an oxidised white wine from the Jura region in France, a stunning regional match that will finish off any autumn dinner party perfectly.

James Brooke

James Brooke, Head Sommelier at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud

I’m passionate about dessert wines. One of my all-time favourite wine pairings is a hazelnut and chocolate tart with a chilled ten-year-old tawny port. You should also try drizzling some Pedro Ximénez sherry over some good quality vanilla ice cream, it’s incredibly good.

For me the best value wines today are to be found in Spain and Portugal. Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Priorat, Bierzo, Valdeorras, Douro Valley and Alentejo would be my favourites. Barolo and Barbaresco in Northern Italy also offer great bargains compared to some of their French counterparts. This won’t last for long so buy now while you can.

My dream cellar would contain an abundance of red Burgundy, Northern Rhone Syrah, Bordeaux, Nebbiolo and Riesling. And Château d’Yquem would be a must. I’m also collecting vintage port after living in Porto last year: 2011 was one of the best years that they ever had in the Douro Valley so the port and table wines from that year are of exceptional quality and will last for decades, if you can stop yourself.

My most treasured wine experience was being invited to a vertical tasting – where different vintages of the same wine type from the same winery are tasted – of Cristal Champagne in the Savoy Hotel in London. It was with some of the most influential wine people in the world. We did a vertical tasting of Cristal from 2006 back to 1979. It made me realise what a great Champagne it is.

In conversation with: Aoife Carrigy

Portrait: Katie Kavanagh

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