Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Ferran Centelles
Our following sommelier to put in the spotlight is Ferran Centelles who has worked as head-sommelier (for 13 years) for the most well known, looked up to and talked about restaurant from the entire world (even years after it was closed) aka elBulli.
After his studies at cookery school and a year at viticulture school Ferran quite quickly started working for elBulli as stagier during the summers and eventually as head-sommelier. Due to the fact elBulli was only open for 6months a year, Ferran had losts of time to travel around and get educated himself even more in wine. When elBulli closed a few years ago Ferran was in charge of selling the contents of elBulli's cellar at Sotheby's sales in Hong Kong and New York. Technically speaking Ferran still works for elBulli as he work for Ferran Adria's elBulli Foundation on the site of the old restaurant on the Costa Brava.
Knowing he worked for elBulli and that he is a very wanted taster, judge and speaker at international wine/sommelier competitions many would guess Ferran would be cocky and spoiled, but they couldn’t be more wrong as he has both his feet on the ground and is very humble.
Nowadays besides working for the elBulliFoundation Ferran is also part of the selection panel for a Spanish retail site called wineisocial where an educational selection of wines is chosen strictly based on blind tasting and/or personal taste that are afterwards offered to those who want to learn about wine. But it doesn’t stop there as Ferran also works for the Barcelona wine school and since 2013 as Spanish wine specialist for Jancis Robinson… so basically still on top of the game :-)
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
Very difficult to answer, there are many regions I love working with. In Spain I would say the whole Galicia, as it is a really fascinating with plentiful of upcoming producers. Montsant and the northern part of Navarra are today great locations with a superb undervalued wines. It is impossible to forget Sherry as it offers a great food and wine pairing opportunities.
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
Humility, curiosity and empathy, they are innate values, all the rest such as tasting techniques or knowledge can be learned.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
Not in my country, in Spain, sommeliers are very well regarded and valuable restaurant figures.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
It was very early in my career, before the age of 18, I was studying to become a chef, but suddenly I found myself loving the direct contact with the costumer, I decide to progress as a waiter. It was just matter of time to start getting crazy about wine.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
There are lots of people I admire, Jancis Robinson is a very inspiring writer, I also admire Gérard Basset as he represents all the capabilities a sommelier must have. Josep Roca is another name I am fan of. Finally David Molina the director of Outlook Wine (The Barcelona Wine School) is another great person I follow.
What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?
There is not just a single unique good approach, the center of the game board must always be the costumer, I love adapting the food&wine pairing depending on who is getting it.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
Ribeira Sacra one of the most spectacular regions in earth producing great wines and offering superb food within.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
Vega Sicilia Unico 1964. is still a pending wine to me.
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?
In the winemaking school I had the chance to meet a great teacher named José Escudero, he has given to me the best lectures, precisely prepared giving just the right amount of information. Really inspiring person!
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
Visiting el Celler de Can Roca in Girona and Il Vino in Paris, the most memorable food&wine pairing experiences I had.