IndustrySommelier: Le Roi (ëlgr restaurant)

Sommelier: Le Roi (ëlgr restaurant)

Did you know that the 3rd of June is Sommelier Day?

To applaud the important impact they have on the wine industry, we’ve interviewed Le Roi, the head sommelier, and manager at ëlgr restaurant in Cape Town.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a sommelier?

I do enjoy the treasure trove of wines produced by South African wineries. Each wine has a unique story and rich history that creates an emotional experience.

Wine has the ability to create a special liquid memory, which is quite special for me to share with our guests. I do see that South African wineries strive to do more and to push boundaries, year upon year.

What has been an interesting wine drinking trend you’ve identified at ëlgr?

A shift in cultivar choices

There is a misconception that Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc are the most popular varieties ordered at a restaurant. In contrast, our guests enjoy varieties like Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Bordeaux Blends. Guests have also started trying new varieties, instead of just sticking to classics like Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc.

Preference for high-quality wines

The average guest at our restaurant prefers high-quality wines. We’ve made it our priority to list wines that are affordable, yet qualified as top-quality wines.

Interest in wine education is key

Guests have gained a sharp interest in trying new styles of winemaking or new cultivars to spark a newfound excitement for wine drinking. We’ve seen a shift towards a more curious wine drinker, who asks more questions about wine to expand on his/her knowledge.

What is the most exciting aspect you have identified about Saxenburg’s older Cabernet Sauvignon vintages listed at your restaurant?

We currently have the Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, 2009, and 2013 listed and it’s quite interesting to see how the wine develops across the different vintages.

Within 10 years you can taste how the style of winemaking has changed, what focus was given in the cellar, and how this translates into the wine over time.

Saxenburg is a classic producer of this variety from the best wine-making areas in Stellenbosch. The remarkable thing is that the structure of the wine holds up, for instance, the Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 shows more “younger” than the 2009 vintage – that’s mind-boggling! I’ve also noticed that one can taste the development of your winemaking style from a bold approach to a more classic and refined style.

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