Gareth Ferreira is fast making a name for himself as one of the world’s leading young sommeliers. His career has seen him take leading roles in his home country of South Africa, the Middle East, and now to London and assistant head sommelier at 67 Pall Mall. Next week he will join the team of fellow semi-finalists in the Best Sommelier of the World awards as they help lead Wines of Argentina’s breakthrough Barullo tasting.
Gareth Ferreira hopes to bring some of the inspiration he found in the new cutting edge wines from Argentina at next week’s Wines of Argentina Barullo tasting on October 25. Here he shares his passion for Argentina, and what it takes to be a leading world sommelier.
As one of the semi-finalists in the Best Sommelier of the World competition held in Mendoza, Argentina what was your perception of Argentinian wine before the trip? What did you discover about them when you were there?
My perception of Argentinian wine has always been good one, albeit fairly one dimensional. What I found from our trip was a large diversity of styles, grapes, regions and the understanding of specific terroirs. I loved hearing people talk about the differences between Agrelo or Las Compuertas. I’d never heard this before.
How did you find taking part in the Best Sommelier of the year competition? What did you do to prepare?
Its was stressful! It’s not an easy thing to put yourself out there in front of industry legends and past winners, but I would do it over and over again.
What you learn about yourself in those three days is incredible and the experience you take away is invaluable. The energy was electric and we as contestants were really welcomed and made to feel very special. I’m lucky to work in a big team of sommeliers at 67 Pall Mall so I had great help from my co-workers in setting up blind tastings for me, running through possible service scenarios, and a bombardment of theory.
What type of Argentinian wines do you have on your list at 67 Pall Mall?
We have a great selection of wines from Archival Ferrer, Catena and Bodega Noemia, and I love the Alluvional series from Zuccardi, it really shows the difference between the wines from La Consulta, Gualtallary, Vista Flores and so on.
We were lucky enough to have Sebastian Zuccardi show these wines to our sommelier team recently and a 30 minute tasting turned into an hour and a half. It was just so interesting to listen to him explain these wines. We do great cuts of meat at 67 Pall Mall and what better wines to accompany them then a juicy Argentinian red, so a lot of these are available by the glass as well.
What price works best for Argentinian wines in your restaurant?
Probably the most common price bracket would be that £40 to £70 pound a bottle mark, but spendings of £100 pound plus happen regularly.
What styles of Argentinian wine and regions do you think are suitable for restaurants and sommeliers for both its red and white wines?
The type of cuisine of your restaurant will decide on what styles of Argentinian wine to go for. I think any sommelier working in a restaurant which serves good quality meat is naturally going to lean towards big bold Argentinian reds. More delicate dishes need styles with more finesse, less tannin and extraction and more moderate alcohols.
But that’s what exciting about Argentina for sommeliers is that the diversity is out there to choose from. I tasted a single varietal Pedro Gimenez from Alma Gemela that was absolutely delicious, a great food wine.
What advice would you give to other sommeliers looking to take part in national or world sommelier competitions?
Don’t be scared to compete. Competitions take you out of your comfort zone, but they build your character and give you great confidence. You can’t do it alone, find a group of friends preparing for tests or competitions and work together. Few people win their first competition so don’t get yourself down if things don’t go as planned. The more competitions you do the easier it gets.
But most of all have fun, meet the other contestants, learn from the judges and take in the experience.
Ferreira will be taking part in a series of masterclasses and debates being held by six of the semi-finalists in this year’s Best Sommelier of the Year competition at Wines of Argentina’s Barullo event on October 25 at JJ Studios in Hoxton, London. The event has been designed to inspire and help fellow sommeliers and wine buyers discover the cutting edge wines and food coming out of Argentina. Barullo’s trade sessions take place on October 25 and 26 with the world sommeliers present on October 25. More details here and to register click here.