Arnaud Bardary MS, group sommelier at Black Sheep Restaurants in Hong Kong, is all about wine. In the interview, he shares his wine training program at the restaurant group, his secret passion of drawing, and why he sees himself most in a structured and delicate Barolo.

Arnaud Bardary MS, group sommelier at Black Sheep Restaurants in Hong Kong, is all about wine.

Born in Lons le Saunier in Jura, from early on, his life is soaked in the decadent liquid. His grandfather produces wine from the iconic Chateau Chalon appellation and generations of his family had been working in the catering industry. Naturally Bardary started his career in the kitchen. It wasn’t in the writing for him to become a prominent chef, but all stars are lined for him to rise above in wine service. As the ebullient sommelier recalls, “The more I learn about it, the more I like it.” And once he starts working in wine, “it’s very hard to think about anything else,” he says.

For years Bardary honed his wine knowledge and skills in the UK including at Hotel du Vin. In 2015, he passed the notoriously difficult examination of Master Sommelier. Since 2016, he has moved to Hong Kong, overseeing and designing wine programs for restaurant group Black Sheep Restaurants. The master sommelier introduced a vigorous training program, one of the best in Asia, for his sommelier team including tastings, practical and written tests to improve their wine knowledge and skills.

While chatting to, he reveals what got him into wine, his immense talent at drawing, and why he sees himself most in a structured and delicate Barolo.

How many years have you been aged so far?

In my lifetime, still very young, and there are still many things to discover. For my professional experience, it would be long enough at some point but not long enough at the same time. You just can’t say you know enough about your job especially in wine industry. You will never stop learning.

What led you to wine?

I like drinking! On my mother’s side, I have a grandfather who produced wine, and on my father’s side they all worked in kitchen. When started in the industry, the more I learn about it, the more I like it. So I finished my studies, and I want to focus on wine, the one that I am most interested in. I did a couple of harvests, and I really loved it, and I love talking about it. I love to have a drink and I love the atmosphere around it. You open a bottle of wine with friends, you make jokes about it, and try to blind taste it. It’s fun. It’s passion more than anything else. It’s just pure pleasure drinking wine every day.

What’s your pet peeves about wine?

It annoys me when I see people taking glasses with their fingures in them. You see that in many bars.

Describe what’s an alcohol-free day like for you?

Hmmm, that doesn’t happen! I don’t count tasting either because you spit.

What’s your secret passion?

I love drawing. When you start working in wine, it’s very hard to think about anything else. It’s just wine, wine and wine. Unfortunately I don’t have time for it any more.

One of Bardary’s Dali-esque drawings (photo provided by Arnaud Bardary)

What kind of wines are in your wine fridge?

Sake, otherwise a lot of whites, Chenin from Loire, quite a few, and Champagne, and Chablis. Usually easier drinking white.

What’s the weirdest wine you’ve tasted so far that you actually liked?

Sometimes you have natural winemakers who are going a bit too far. The weirdest wine that I liked is Vin Jaune when I first started out.

If you can recommend one wine to any leader in the world, who would it be and what would you recommend?

It wouldn’t be one wine for sure! Because of Vin Jaune, I want people to discover it in a good sense. If you are trying it for the first time, they will probably dump it in the sink thinking it’s a bad wine, but being able to serve it to a leader and explain why the wine is what it is it will make a difference.

If you can drink any wine in the world, which wine would you like to have?

It’s impossible to list one! The first release of Pol Roger and the (Thomas) Jefferson wines…

If you are a wine, how would you imagine your tasting note would be like?

A Barolo perhaps or a Barbaresco. The wine is structured and very delicate at the same time. Also, I don’t like to speak too much about wine and I don’t like to show off, and I find Barolo and Barbaresco a little bit like that. The first time you drink it, you find it acidic and too tannic, and the more you drink it, the more you understand about the wine, its complexity, and it can age for a long time.

If you can only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Champagne! It goes with everything. If you are happy, you drink Champagne, and if you are unhappy, you drink Champagne too.

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