Unforgetful First Impression

Wine Tales | Written By, NOW! BALI | March 26th, 2013

For me it is a long story, spanning more than 25 years. My first real encounter with wine was in 1980 in Bordeaux near St. Emilion. It was my first visit to this famous wine region. At that time, I was a stuebli (Swiss Fondue) chef at a 100-year old family owned castle hotel, called Hotel Waldhaus. We had about 30 wines from Bordeaux on our wine list (which was my reason for going there in the first place). 

People here in Asia ask me, from time to time, “What is it that makes you so passionate about wine?” 

 

For me it is a long story, spanning more than 25 years. My first real encounter with wine was in 1980 in Bordeaux near St. Emilion. It was my first visit to this famous wine region. At that time, I was a stuebli (Swiss Fondue) chef at a 100-year old family owned castle hotel, called Hotel Waldhaus. We had about 30 wines from Bordeaux on our wine list (which was my reason for going there in the first place). 

The first Wine Château I ever visited was a very small, practical house with one little tower surrounded by vineyards. In later days I saw huge Châteaux, like Château Margaux, Château Cheval Blanc and Château Leoville Las Casses; they were indeed immense and impressive.

When I entered this little Château, I saw an old man lingering near his vines and shuffling soil. So I approached and politely asked if he would mind showing me his wine cellar. Sitting in the soil, he answered, “of course,” and leaped up from the ground as quickly as a young man might have, but he must have been nearly 70 years of age. He looked slim and lean in the face and wore thick glasses so that I could not see much of his eyes. His most striking feature was his wide and welcoming smile; a feature which made him immediately likeable. We went swiftly into the cellar where new Barriques (25 litre barrels) and older Barriques stood like soldiers in line. The place seemed forgotten, like cobwebs that haven’t been dusted for years, but all was very clean and the odour of red wine filled the room. The owner explained that he used new, one and two year old barrels and that his red wine was a cuvee and made of three grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc comprised the biggest percentage being the main grape variety for in St. Emilion area. 

He asked if I would like to taste the new wine, to which, of course, I answered yes. He presented me with a small glass of dark red wine. We drunk together and he explained to me in simple words the smell which was ‘yeasty,’ ‘woody’ and ‘fruity,’ and reminded him of such and such fruits. Then he spoke about the taste in the mouth, about full body and medium full body, about lightness and acidity, the colour and what it tells him of the age and the clearness. After these words I thought that I really could smell and taste the wine as this great wine maker had explained so enthusiastically to me. 

Suddenly I heard footsteps coming down to our cool wine cellar. It was the owner’s wife and she said, with the same accent and strength as her husband, “Bonjour Monsieur, I am sorry but I must tell my husband that he really cannot do this alone anymore”.  “Do what alone?” I asked, unknowingly. “Oh, you didn’t realise Monsieur, my husband Georg is blind”.

I was perplexed and stood in wonder for a few moments. Surely Georg couldn’t be blind; he did everything with such assuredness and confidence. 

I have never forgotten this first little Château adventure and never have I learned so much, and so easily, about wine again. Tasting in this kind of ambiance was, and has always been, so amazing to me. It delivered to me a positive sense. Something only people do when they give; like nurses, doctors (and yes restaurant serving staff too).  

 I must confess it is the people who make wine who impress me the most. They learn from their fathers, their mothers and from year to year, from result to result, from wine to wine. They are people who love their work – like I love being a Sommelier too. 

 

  Τηε Σομμελιερ

A child who sees the Sommelier, 

does cover right away, behind the back of his mother, 

it laughs tears oh dear so many, they give phantasms,

the highest children fun, 

and the child says: 

he has a skirt and is hopping like a buck.

 

Another being,

sees in the Sommelier of the first sight a holy man, 

and he thinks:

Who is walking like he does,

in such fine cloth, must be blessed.

However, so much is his disappointment,

when he sees, 

that the assumed cross, 

is only a bowl, also called 

“Taste De Vin“ in wine circles, 

on the Sommelier sublime chest.

 

Again another individual 

is terrified with the Sommelier,

if face to face 

indeed no hat is seen on the top of the Wine Master,

nevertheless he equals a grave-digger

who does shovel the tomb,

in the moon light,

for the dead.

 

Now, to all who are not sure yet, 

what he is, the Sommelier, 

I may say:

“he is a man like you and me,

only, he loves the wine,

like a fisher the sea,

like a servant his master,

and in his bowl will always be wine 

 

and not water from the holy ghost,

 

his skirt is an apron which shields his trouser 

also does keep his finger dry 

from the wine of Bacchus,

and who is thinking,

that he operates with Sir Death,

he is not wrong in thoughts,

as the Sommelier says:

“If you drink to much without a bite, 

than you are like a soldier 

in an warfare trench, 

already seen by your foe“.

 

Now, you know,

who he is the Sommelier,

he travels like a tramp, 

from wine to wine,

speaks well, 

like a trying to do good priest, 

have mystic’s thoughts for the ones 

who take too much 

from the drink of Dionysus 

and he is merry 

with thoughts 

he received from children every day. 

 

HARALD WIESMANN
Chief Sommelier, 

The St. Regis Bali Resort

Harald Wiesmann, Restaurant Manager of the Asian inspired Haute Cuisine Kayuputi and Chief Sommelier at The St. Regis Bali Resort, has a very interesting career history spanning a number of years with different roles in various countries. His 40 years of international experience has led Kayuputi to receive prestigious awards from the Wine Spectator Magazine (USA) for four consecutive years since its opening four years ago. While for the first two years the restaurant was awarded ‘Award of Excellence’, these last 2 years Kayuputi has been honored with ‘Best of Award of Excellence’, making it the first and only restaurant in the whole of Indonesia to win this coveted award.

 

About Author :

NOW! BALI

Safari
Awarta

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MONTHLY NEWSLETTER TO GET THE LATEST UPDATES.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

Leave a Comment