Angus Wardel, De 4 Roser, Tromso
How did you become interested in wine?
It was a glorious accident really… My stepfather had a fantastic cellar, from which I used to liberally sample when I had friends over after the village pub closed. Upon discovering his cellar was somewhat depleted, he seemed more annoyed that I wasn’t truly appreciating the great stuff that I was brazenly drinking, and set about teaching me how to properly appreciate wine. Shortly afterwards he taught me how to decant using an old Hermitage, which we then drunk with a sirloin steak. I can still remember the amazing whirlwind of aromas! It was then I fell in love with wine and the rest is history.
Can you describe your pathway to becoming a Sommelier?
It all started with a Modern Languages degree at University! An essay on the success of Cava in the British marketplace (which was rampant in 2008!) led to a couple of very happy years teaching in Madrid, which allowed me to explore Rioja, Jerez and many other Spanish Wine regions. Two years later in my capacity as fine wine manager, I enrolled in the UK Sommelier Association AIS course with the intention of getting a real, philosophical awareness of food and wine pairing. Only as the course progressed, I found myself more and more enticed by the freedom and variety that being a sommelier offers, not to mention the opportunity to share my passion for wine with people from all walks of life and think on my feet. It is very rare to go from the traditional trade into being a sommelier but I am loving every second!
Which sparkling wines or regions do you think are the most underrated?
There are too many to mention! Certainly, a lot of magnificent Cava is overlooked due to the image problem created by poor quality in the £4 – £7 end of the retail market. Anyone who seeks out a bottle of Juve y Camps, Castillo Perelada or Celler Martín Faixó Brut Nature will be extremely happy: these are the sumptuous Spanish sparklers to bring Brits back to the Cava table! I also absolutely love Franciacorta, particularly the vintage and rosé offerings of Ronco Calino. The challenge is in convincing people that it is worth paying as much as champagne for a glass! In general, this is an amazing time for Traditional method sparkling wine, there is so much great stuff out there. Its a great time to be a lover of fizz!
How many sparkling wines do you/did you taste on average per day whilst working at De 4 Roser?
We are very proud of our sparkling wine list at De 4 Roser, which takes in everything from Champagne to Cava, Trentino to Tasmania and back! As such, normally I taste 6-8 bottles a day to make sure they arrive at our customer’s tables in perfect condition.
What is your favourite sparkling wine and what would you pair it with and why?
I adore champagne and an absolute sucker for vintage champagne. It would have to be 2004 Prestige de Grethen with freshly steamed King Crab, an Arctic Norwegian speciality. It has a beautiful, shellfishy intensity with a delicately sweet creaminess that demands a good vintage champagne with deep, rich autolytic qualities that allow the unique King Crab flavour to shine! Otherwise, I could be convinced to settle for a bottle of 2000 Pol Roger Winston Churchill and some seared foie gras!