ACCIDENTAL WINE LOVER
A MASTER SOMMELIER TELLS ALL
“There are bottles that leave an indelible space in your mind because you were with the right people, in the right moment"
From a Judo-crazed teetotaler who hadn’t touched a drop of liquor at the age of 18, to a master sommelier who spends his days surrounded by wine, Christopher Delalonde ended up where he is “purely by accident”. After enrolling in hospitality school to pursue a career as a flight attendant, he developed a keen interest in wine and its origins. By the time he was 23 he was the head sommelier at Alain Passard’s L’Arpège restaurant in Paris. “Finally finding something that interested me other than judo was like, ‘Wow!’. It was a revolution that something else could inspire me,” he says. “I would open books and read about it, and really dig into the subject. So I think that is how I fell in love with the ‘culture’ of wine, rather than the end product.”
Throughout his career Delalonde has enjoyed countless exceptional bottles of wine, but says it is near impossible to choose one that stands out above the rest: “There are bottles that leave an indelible space in your mind because you were with the right people, in the right moment, it was the right vintage, and there was a lot of history in the bottle, and so on. But it’s really hard to pinpoint one precise bottle because, to me, that’s the whole beauty of wine. There are so many angles in which you can approach and enjoy wine: the time, the company, the occasion.”
This year the Chateau Boundary wine program has begun bringing in real wine-makers to present their wines, showcasing affordable, yet high quality wines and focusing on presenting different regions. Delalonde says one region he is excited about is Chile: “I recognize the orientation of the UK market, where Chile is seen as a cheap source of decent wines, but I found that there is more than meets the eye in this very dynamic and evolving country. Loads of focus and understanding of their own country has helped Chile to achieve much better wine. Watch this space.”