Estate Vineyards & Winery
10300 Chalk Hill Road
Healdsburg, Sonoma County
Interview with Yves Sauboua
By Jim Clarke
Jim Clarke: You’ve been involved with training wine
professionals since your time and London; are the standards rising,
and how are consumers responding?
Yves Sauboua: The standard of wine service is rising year by
year in the United States of America with more wine schools, professional
wine-tastings, and improved wine-training in restaurants and hotels.
The more we educated the employees of the restaurants and hotels the
better it is for consumers. They feel comfortable asking for recommendations
when they know the employees are well-trained.
JC: What is the Sommeliers’ Circle?
YJS: I was the founder and president of the Sommeliers’ Circle
of Great Britain for 5 years (1994 – 1999). There were around
100 sommeliers in the circle and we met twice a month for wine-tastings
with winemakers or owners of wineries from all around the world. Also
we made 8 to 10 trips each year around European wine-producing countries.
It was very educational and great way to meet new wine friends.
JC: How different is your work with Chalk Hill Estate compared
to your previous work in restaurants?
YJS: Actually it is not so different than my previous work as a sommelier
in restaurants. I do a lot of wine dinners around the country for consumers
and wine professionals (over 45 dinners in 2003). It is also important
to educate the consumers to make sure that the gap between wine professionals
and consumers does not become too big. I focus more now on wines of
Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery and talk about Sonoma Valley.
I might taste less wines than I used to, but my sommelier friends always
surprise me when I visit them.
JC: Do you ever feel limited working with only one producer
instead of a range of international wines?
YJS: As I mentioned, I do travel a lot around the country and visit
many sommeliers and wine professionals, so I make sure that I get to
taste many different wines when I dine in their restaurants. Also, when
I’m home, I always buy a few bottles of wines from different countries.
If you don’t do that, your taste becomes more used to a certain
style of wine and that’s dangerous because it becomes a “house
taste” (a winery, the wine area where you live, etc.).
JC: What do you look for in wine service when you go out?
YJS: When I am paying for a bottle with a 250/300 % mark up - even
more some times - I’m looking for knowledgeable staff, very good
glassware (the right glass for the right grape), decantation when needed,
and wines served at the right temperature.