We have known Isabelle during our wine-trip in Barcelona.
Before this wine-trip, we were planning to visit Monvínic due to its gorgeous feedback and the many and many articles written by wine journalists about this characteristic and unique wine bar.
But we never thought to meet a Maître Sommelier as Isabelle Brunet. A willing, friendly, experienced, globetrotter, wine lover like few others we have ever know.
She starts during her childhood “working” in her parents restaurant, and after that she never stops to work and lives around the catering and wine services.
Incredible experiences lived on the ground, incredible Sommelier, incredible Woman.
Here is the interview, some words to know Isabelle.
Il Nomade Divino: If we had a look at your passport stamps, it would be like a journey in the wine geography. You left from a little village not far from Loira region towards the most important wine producers countries: France, Germany, England, South Africa, United States, Cuba, Australia and New Zealand. You have lived many important experiences in restaurant and wineries, knowing many wine persons and seeing a lot of different realities. Could you tell us which wine experience has given you more emotions? I am not talking about a specific degustation only, but experiences on the ground, like the one you lived as a winemaker during harvest or a unique encounter that left you a good taste and a long persistence.
Isabelle Brunet: Well, it’s like asking me which is my favourite wine.
How can I rate moment shared with people & wine!
Nevertheless, my visit in 1999 to Phillip Jones, at Bass Phillip Winery (Australia), was so memorable. After seeing the vineyard he took us to a good Italian restaurant with his wife Sarong (Thai lady) to drink -not to taste- different cuvees of his amazing pinot.
Then, in 2006 when Sergi Ferrer-Salat (Monvinic‘s owner) allowed me to work 6 months for the vintage, Phillip thought I was a winemaker, nope, but I helped him as much as can.
I started to work straight on arrival and the first dinner with the Thai cooking of Sarong and again his pinot on the table was just unbelievable, I was jet lag…closed my eyes…and thought where I am…in Bourgogne!…and drank the 1989 reserve pinot noir. No words … pure emotion.
Il Nomade Divino This incredible background gave you the chance – by the way – to become with honors Maître Sommelier in many restaurants, without going through the Sommellerie academic studies. According to you, how much important is for a Sommelier to live direct experiences on the ground like you did?
Isabelle Brunet – At 10 years old I was doing the cleaning and washing up in the restaurant of my parents, at 12 serving food until I choose to be a waitress at 16 and spent two years in a catering school; at 18 got jobs waitressing…then worked next to my brother in London who trained me as a sommelier, attending a lot of wine tastings.
Some people are good with books but I think for me the school of life has been a real treat & benefit. In the hospitality business, studies and title are important, but practice in the field is a must.
Il Nomade Divino: Monvínic could be considered a “female” restaurant, as the most responsible positions are assigned to women, from your role of Maître Sommelier, the Chef, the Manager of the Communication, up to the several Sommeliers. We finally see that during last years even more women choose to be sommelier and chef, and we strongly believe that the catering systems must change in this way. According to you, which is the added value, the different perspective or sensibility that women can bring to the wine world?
Isabelle Brunet: I am proud to be closely surrounded with people who have values in life & humanity in the adventures of Monvinic. The owner and Clara Saludes are the best examples of beautiful person.
Sommelier is not a man’s job; it is just that socially more women are working outside home in a paid job…in all kind of job.
I am not a feminist but generally, we can be more delicate in a way of transmitting our passion; we get to our aim and goals without been too aggressive or competitive.
Il Nomade Divino: Between the various restaurants where you have worked, there is also El Bulli, the one of a “certain” Ferran Adrià. We would like you to tell us this story and how much this experience has been important for your learning process and career.
Isabelle Brunet: I arrived in Barcelona early 2000 after 2 years travelling around the world, and stayed my brother Christophe Brunet who booked a table at el Bulli, after the lunch July Soler (El Bulli‘s co-owner) offered me a position as a sommelier.
MAGIC is the first word which comes on my mind. The ceremony of dishes was pure adrenaline.
Choosing wine was a challenge, but what I enjoy the most was watching people’s face and impressions with the whole experience. Quite complete for the senses: sight, smell, textures, even sounds…A FEAST
Personally, two seasons were sufficient and I left my place for other talented sommeliers.
Obviously, it gave me an amazing entry to the world of food & wine trade in Spain.
Il Nomade Divino: We remember from our last chat, that you are a great passionate for the wine of Jerez, like we are. You have been nominated Ambassador of Jerez from the local D.O. Council, to enshrine a connection – not only emotional – with this thousand aromas and flavours wine. Could you talk about Jerez from your point of view, about how much important is in the world of wine and why it’s not so famous like other wines, as it would deserve.
Isabelle Brunet: A miracle of nature.
Few thousands years ago, life & yeast & climate conditions occured in this part of the world for a reason. Very few places in the world have the privilege to see a biological and oxidation process. Time is not the enemy, when you are there between the barrels and pungent aromas, the clock stops.
Pairing food with a whole range of Jerez is so exciting, from the driest wine of all to the richest with nuances and depth. Fino, Manzanilla with the yeast flor, Amontillado, Oloroso and Palo Cortado with positive oxidation, I record my emotion 9 years ago with one.
A small amount in a glass is enough to enjoy the perfumes and transport you, the flavour to enhance any tipe of food.
I think generally people are scared of the alcohol content. If you visit Andalucía, you’ll see how happy the people are…singing and dancing! Flamenco spirit!
Yes Isabelle, we completely agree with you! Visit Andalucía and taste Jerez wine, there is Flamenco spirit inside!
Thanks for your words Isabelle, the world of wine is fantastic because we never stop to know persons like you!
See you soon in Monvínic!
And if you want to read more about amazing wine people, read our interviews to Charlie Arturaola and Julien Miquel, the Social Vignerons.