Uncorked: Mickael Metayer

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Mickael Metayer head sommelier A Wong

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The head sommelier of London’s A Wong on growing up in the Loire Valley, Raimonds Tomsons and the challenges of matching wines with progressive Chinese cuisine.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
Born and raised in the Loire Valley, France, I grew up in the laps of St. Nicolas de Bourgueil’s vineyards, as my grandfather was a winemaker. I don’t exactly recall when I had my first sip of wine, but I assume I was around 12 years old. From a young age, I had an interest in wines. My grandpa’s wine cellar was my playground where I used to play hide and seek with my brother. 

Describe your wine list at A Wong
We offer close to over 350 different labels and vintages. Veering away from traditional service, the wine programme at A Wong is centred around the idea of adventure and personal exploration. We believe in encouraging the guests to sample a wider selection of wines, by exploring lesser-known wines and understanding the flavour profiles of well-known old wines. 

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters? 
I accidentally dropped a full glass of red wine on the table and on the guest too. This happened years ago, however the memory is still fresh as a flower. The guests however were my regular clients and instead of making a big fuss about it, they just laughed about it saying that it was a wine shower day. 

Name your top three restaurant wine lists 
Clos Maggiore, Core by Clare Smyth and 110 Taillevent (all in London). 

Who do you most respect in the wine world?
In the wine world, there are so many personalities that I really look up to, however, if I have to name one, I would say Raimonds Tomsons from Latvia (who was also named the best sommelier in the world last year). More than anything else, I think it is his humility, along with his wine world knowledge, that makes me a big fan of his. 

What’s the most interesting wine you’ve come across recently? 
Macanita, Douro, Branco Reserva 2020.  

What are the three most overused tasting notes?
Acidity, tannins and body. 

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment? 
The Macanita I mentioned earlier. This is an amazing delicious wine with a bright nose of citrus and stone fruits which leads you to a crisp palate with a dominant minerality. The complexity comes from a bit of barrel again and this one definitely has a long finish. 

What is your ultimate food and drink match?
At A Wong it has to be a rich creamy white wine with a selection of dim sum.  

Old World or New World?
Old World. However, these days, there are so many amazing producers from the New World that I often question myself on this one. 

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
I think using the wrong wine glass and serving it at the wrong temperature is something I really think we should give importance to. I believe that serving the wine at the wrong temperature makes the biggest difference to the wine service. 

Who is your favourite producer right now? 
Gavalas Family Winery in Santorini. Although not a very well-known winery I have followed and tried their wines for the past two decades, and I must say that it gets better every year. A five-generation winery with very limited bottling a year, Gavalas for me brings the best of Assyrtiko and Mavrotragano, while also supporting the indigenous rare varieties like Katsanano and Voudamato. And for the price tag, it’s a steal. 

As a head sommelier, what question do you most get asked by customers? 
I get bombarded with typical questions about wines, producers, and vintages, but at A Wong, I also often get asked about how I pair a wine with a collection of dishes. Unlike other degustation menus in French and English restaurants, where the pairing is driven by the type of protein, at A Wong the sauces play such a big role. 

Which wine-producing region or country is underrated? 
I think Portuguese wines are underrated at the moment, especially white Portuguese wines. The region produces so many excellent wines, which I am starting to become a huge fan of. 

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
It’s going to be a bottle of Romanee Conti from DRC 2004.  

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