Sergio dos Santos, our Head Sommelier, has been with us for almost two years. Having previously worked at many renowned establishments his knowledge and expertise is second to none.
We talk with Sergio about his extensive experience and passion for wine.
How did you become a Sommelier?
My first job was as a chef but I began to realise that, although I enjoyed cooking, there was something else about the trade even more fascinating - Wine.
I was converted whilst working at the Pic, a Restaurant in my hometown of Lorient in Brittany. After working as a chef, I moved jobs every couple of years, mainly in Michelin Starred restaurants close to vineyards, including the two starred Hotel Million in Alberville, Savoie and the Hotel Majestic Villa des Lys, in Cannes.
I moved to England in 2003 where I started working at Chewton Glen Hotel. I then went to Jersey in 2007 to the Atlantic Hotel until 2014 when I joined Cliveden House and now I am thoroughly enjoying my time at the Montagu Arms Hotel.
I now have a level 4 diploma in WSET (The Wine & Spirit Education Trust) and a Sommelier Caviste diploma from France. Plus, I was also a semi finalist in the "UK Sommelier of the Year" in 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
What does your role involve?
The main role of a Sommelier is to advise guests on their wine choices and to encourage them to try something new.
It is also important to maintain and improve the standard of wines on offer and continue to train and improve on staff knowledge.
During their New Forest break, guests of the Montagu Arms can join me for a wine tasting session sampling my wine of the month and find out what makes the perfect pairing.
For our corporate clients, a great team incentive or reward is a whiskey tasting session in the traditional and atmospheric setting of the Montagu Arms Hotel. What a wonderful way to say thank you to your loyal staff.
What is your favourite wine?
I love Burgundy. Burgundy is maybe the one vineyard of France that lives and breathes wine. If you really want to know what wine means then Burgundy is the place.
Most Frenchmen are fiercely loyal to the wines made down the road whilst they were growing up or in their uncle’s, neighbour’s or grandfather’s vineyard. I'm originally from Brittany and Brittany is not known for its vineyards. My upbringing probably provided a wider variety of wines, hence the eclectic range on the wine list.
What are your favourite dishes and pairing wines from the Terrace Menu?
My favourites would have to be 'Honey Roast Breast of Free Range Duck with a Tarte Fine of Caramelised Endive, Celeriac Puree and Lightly Peppered Sauce'. Delicious with a Pinot Noir from Bolney Estate.
I also love 'Grilled Day Boat ‘Fish of the Day’ with Sprouting Broccoli, Toasted Almonds, Crispy Oyster and Verjus Butter Sauce' paired with a Bacchus Reserve from Winbirri Vineyards.
Aside from wine, what are your other passions and hobbies?
I love going running in the New Forest and have competed in competition cross-country, 10km runs, half marathons and also the London Marathon in 2006.
What is your personal adage?
I am a great believer in food and wine matching to enhance the dining experience.
I love creating "living" wine lists which will evolve continuously, showing the wine characteristics of each region and how they differ from each other. Selecting only the best examples of wine from emerging wine locations, to the more traditional and classic areas.