Wine buyer and group head sommelier – Caprice Holdings
Former beverage director of Texture Restaurant Group — which includes wine-bar chain 28°-50°, as well as the eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant in its portfolio – Clement Robert MS only recently took on the role of wine buyer and group head sommelier at Caprice Holdings & The Birley Clubs.
He now oversees 20 lists across its portfolio of restaurants, which include 34 Mayfair, Daphne’s, J Sheekey, The Ivy, Scott’s and Sexy Fish, and the recently relaunched private members’ club Annabel’s. His passion for wine started at an early age, thanks to his connoisseur father who collected rare and expensive bottles, which Robert was allowed to have a small taste of when poured. “I was fascinated by the array of scents, smells and flavours each wine would offer.”
Hailing from Normandy, Robert trained as a sommelier at Loire-based Michelin-starred restaurant La Licorne. He gained his diploma in 2005 while working at the restaurant, before travelling to the UK a year later. By 2008 he was working as the head sommelier for Hotel du Vin in Cambridge, winning his first award – the Rising Star Sommelier – in the same year. He was crowned International Young Sommelier of the year in 2010 and UK Sommelier of the Year in 2013, before gaining his MS certification in 2015.
In 2015, he moved to work for Texture chef Agnar Sverrisson as the head sommelier of his chain of wine bars, 28°-50°, and was later promoted to food and beverage director of the Texture Group. London, Robert says, is “the world capital of wine”, but drinks are just a small part of what makes his job so important. “I’d say about 70% of my job is about people,” he says. “It is about working for the guests and finding what is best for them, both through understanding their needs and preferences, and employing wine knowledge to make the best recommendation.”
With his mind always on the guest, Robert says one of the most crucial lessons he’s learned on the job is that you never stop learning. “A lot has changed in the past 13 years. Consumers drink less and want more for their money. They are also increasingly informed, and want to know more about what they are drinking; how it is vinified, whether it is organic or not. You can never know enough – there is always something to learn, to taste and improve on.”