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Tom Aiken's sommelier Sebastien Morice on stepping into Gearoid's shoes

Published:  06 May, 2009

Tom Aikens' sommelier, Sebastien Morice, on how to step into big shoes without tripping up and finding the elixir of life



Tom Aikens' sommelier, Sebastien Morice, on how to step into big shoes without tripping up and finding the elixir of life.

What first got you interested in wine?
My first experience of working in a gastronomic restaurant, Le Jardin Des Sens in Montpellier, as a commis waiter. I was really impressed by the wine list and the digestif list.

How did you end up in your current job?
I started in London nearly five years ago, when Philippe Messy offer me my first job at L'Etranger. The restaurant had a fantastic wine list: it was especially strong in Burgundy and the New World. I then worked at the Hotel du Vin in Winchester with Claire Thevenot: another good experience and a great learning tool as well! After spending some time at Papillon, I wanted to return to the world of fine dining. Then, nearly two years ago, I met Gearoid Devaney, who gave me the opportunity to work with him and Tom Aikens.

In following Gearoid into the job, you've stepped into some pretty big shoes. Do you plan on making any big changes to the wine list?
Maybe in the future I'll bring something of myself to the list, but it will be certainly based on the philosophy I share with Gearoid, which is to be open to new, exciting, eclectic wines.

Do you have a wine world hero? If so, who is it - and why?
Not a hero, just the two teachers I had during my wine 'apprenticeship' at Tain L'Hermitage, Pascal Bouchet and Jean Gabert. What I learnt from them goes much deeper than an area, a grape, a vintage or any other part of wine theory.

What's your proudest professional achievement?
Having the opportunity to meet and work with Gearoid Devaney, Claire Thevenot and Philippe Messy. Three strong personalities, three different ways of working, but one thing in common - they're all hedonists!

What makes a great wine list?
I think any kind of wine list can be great as long as the sommelier has clarity of purpose. I find myself repeating this often, but whatever the size of the wine list, it has to be eclectic. I want to be excited when I read a wine list!

Is there any kind of wine you wouldn't want on your list?
I'm not a big fan of Pinotage.

How much emphasis do you attach to matching wines with food - and what's the best way of helping customers steer their way to appropriate wine choices?
I don't think there is a perfect recipe. Customers come to enjoy the food and the best way to make that happen isn't necessarily about finding the perfect match, but rather about finding something they'll enjoy, whatever it is.

What do you drink at home?
Everything, so that I can discover wines and producers I don't know.

What would be your desert island wine?
It wouldn't be a wine. A Chartreuse Tarragona 1965 would be delightful...

And what would you want to eat with it?
This elixir doesn't need anything else!