Meet Our Sommelier:
Embark on a journey with Vice Champion for Nouvelle – Aquitaine 2017. Best Sommelier de Nouvelle Aquitaine 2019 and finalist for Master Piron 2019, Dimitri Nalin.
We asked Dimitri for a moment of his time to share his insights on Rome De Bellegarde, what truly defines a fine-tasting cognac and why the grand champagne region is akin to curating some of the best-renowned cognacs in the world.
Dimitri Nalin’s interest in the profession piqued when he was working in Australia and living with a French oenologist who would speak passionately about wine and the art of wine-making. One evening, he decided to join him down into the cellar to sample the choice on the wine rack and found the experience to be truly amazing.
After that night, he bought a selection of books so that he could read up on all that there was to know about becoming a sommelier. He now works in the La grande Maison de Pierre Gagnaire in Bordeaux as a Head Sommelier and it is his role to purchase from the suppliers and collaborate with the head chef on a range of menu pairings.
While he recognises that France is the first nation to experiment with wine, it is the Australians, the Americans and the British who truly love their wine and have gone to every length to enrich their understanding about the different varieties, from all different parts of the world. When asked what his favourite wine was he said that:
“If you had asked me a few years ago I would have said Bordeaux but now that my tastes have slightly changed and my palette has matured, a bottle of wine from the South of France, or Languedoc, are particularly good. But if it was my last night on earth and I could pick one, I would most certainly choose to enjoy a glass of Romanée Conti. “
Having been the finalist for the Master Piron back in 2019 among several other prestigious awards, he believes the best, most pragmatic advice that he could give to an aspiring sommelier is to maintain that sense of curiosity and willingness to visit the châteaux and learn from the great winemakers and the great wines. He says that:
“For the Master Piron blindtasting challenge, I was training intensely for 3 months, every single day.“
When discussing what he defines as an exceptional cognac however, he expressed that it has to be smooth on the palette, with an outstanding range of rich aromas and complexities of flavours. One of the most definitive qualities is for it to have a long finish, one that remains in the mouth for longer than 2 or 3 minutes after you drink it.
Aside from the taste, what makes the Rome De Bellegarde collection so special is that the grapes are grown in the grand champagne appellations, which produce a brilliant diversity of cognac Premier crus, known to hold a superior quality.
While the core process of making cognac still follows the same long-held tradition of harvesting the grape, fermentation and distillation, it is the soil of the region and the process of making that cognac that sets it apart.
He describes the taste cuts for the XO as having:
“a long finish with a distinctive balance between the smoothness of the alcohol, the freshness, and the complexity of the different aromas.“
“To be enjoyed after a good meal, never with ice, but sometimes paired with a cigar as the sweet and spiciness of charred smoke really complements the delicate flavours.”