Didier Catelo returned to Medlar in Chelsea as its head sommelier and wine buyer in March of this year, following previous roles at The Ledbury, Hotel Du Vin and Le Bistrot du Sommelier in Paris.
What’s your vintage?
I am 42 years old, vintage 1974.
What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?
It depends on the day. After a working day, it could be a herbal tea. After a hard working day, I‘d rather go for a pale ale. Overall, German Riesling is what I often drink after working day on not.
What’s your most embarrassing front-of-house moment?
Every single situation when you are not able to answer promptly to a customer’s query.
If you could give your younger self advice when starting out as a sommelier, what would it be?
My best advice would be to stay humble. Wine is first and foremost about humility.
Has a wine every given you an epiphany? Which one?
Hermitage red and white from JL Chave [in the Rhône, where he worked a harvest in 2012] often gives me an epiphany.
Which customer habit annoys you the most?
Walking in and passing by the reception without announcing themselves.
Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?
It might seem to be a paradox as I am sommelier, but most of my greatest inspirations are chefs, such as Alain Passard, George Blanc, Alain Sanderens, Nobu Matsuhisa, Toru Okida, Brett Grahams, Dan Anton and so on.
What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?
One of our signature dishes from Medlar. Crab Raviolo with samphire, brown shrimps, fondue of leeks and bisque sauce pairing with a Palo Cortado 20YO Wellington, La Gitana, is incredible! The oxidised style of the wine gives a lovely contrast to the creamy texture of the sauce, while the iodine touch of the sauce boosts the mineral edge of the wine.
Where would your fantasy vineyard be?
Morovia, Czech Republic. Amazing landscape.
If you weren’t a sommelier, what would you be doing?
Any other artistic job, because wine is art.
Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?
I am not a Gewürztraminer fan.
Who is the most memorable customer you’ve ever served?
A Muslim woman who does not drink any alcohol, but was keen to at least smell the aromas and try to understand the purpose of my job. This was a pure exchange.