Group head sommelier and wine buyer at 28°-50° Wine Workshop & Kitchen, Clement Robert MS, was crowned International Young Sommelier of the year in 2010 and UK Sommelier of the Year in 2013. Former sommelier of Medlar restaurant in Chelsea, Robert has also worked for the Hotel du Vin group and under Eric Zwiebel at Summer Lodge Hotel in Dorset.
What’s your vintage?
What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?
Wine would be a glass of Champagne or a glass of fino Sherry. Non-wine would be a gin and tonic with a lot of ice and a dash of angostura bitters.
What’s your most embarrassing front-of-house moment?
Ouch. There have been a few, but most recently, I was describing a wine and talking about the region from where the wine was from, only to realise mid-conversation that the guest was drinking a completely different wine to the one I was describing.
If you could give your younger self advice when starting out as a somm, what would it be?
Don’t forget to enjoy the experience while learning about wine and sample everything you can as you go along as it is vitally important to train your palate.
Has a wine ever given you an epiphany? Which one?
Probably Chateau Lafleur 1982, during my time at Hotel du Vin in Cambridge. One of our regular guests invited me to his house and he opened some bottles from his 1982 Bordeaux private collection (Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande and La Mission Haut Brion were among the line-up). The expectation was huge and the wine simply over-exceeded anything I could imagine. Incredible wines, an incredible moment.
Which customer habit annoys you the most?
Asking for ice to go in their white wine.
Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?
Gerard Basset. He always shows modesty and humility while being one of the most well-known and successful oenophiles of his generation, having inspired and trained a host of sommeliers himself in this country over the years.
What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?
Duck with black olive sauce, rosemary and sage, paired with Syrah from the northern Rhône.
Where would your fantasy vineyard be?
In the Langhe Hill, Piedmont, Italy. I love Nebbiolo, I love the beauty of the landscape there. The dynamic of the region, both in terms of winemaking and gastronomy, is extraordinary.
If you weren’t a sommelier, what would you be doing?
In a fantasy world, doing something related to professional football. In reality, a job that combines history and nature. I am not sure what precisely I would be doing as I wanted to be a sommelier from the age of 16.
Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?
Pinotage from South Africa.
Who is the most memorable customer you’ve ever served?
Ridley Scott. He produced some of my favourite movies, a true gentleman and a Bordeaux wine connoisseur.