Julia Oudill, Head Sommelier, Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

The Staff Canteen

Julia Oudill discusses his role as Head Sommelier at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Julia Oudill

Place of work: Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Bio: Born in Pau, Julia obtained her bachelor’s degree at the catering high school of Biarritz in 2008, continuing her studies at the catering university of Talence. It was here that she won the Mumm contest specialising in champagne and later the Chapoutier contest which led to her being named ‘The Best Student Sommelier of France’. Julia’s first job was as Sommelier at Alain Dutournier's restaurant, “Le Carré des Feuillants” (2 Michelin Stars). After a stint in Biarritz helping to run the family restaurant, Julia returned to Paris in 2013 and began work at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, in Saint-Germain-des-Pres. When the famous wine bar opened a second location in London, she was offered the position of Head Sommelier and later took on the additional roles of General Manager as well as a wine buyer at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels London, La Compagnie Delicatessen & Experimental Beach Ibiza.

Why are you so passionate about wine and what is it about wine that interests you?

As far as I remember, I have always had a passion for wine. I was raised in a family where food and wine were very important; my father is a Chef and my mum owns a restaurant so it has always been around me. From a young age I have questioned “how is it possible to make a legendary wine from this grape, on this terroir, using this type of barrel…” and studying the subject at college and university taught me all of these things and bolstered my passion.

Chef Skills

Julia Oudill takes us through her personal experiences whilst being in the Culinary Industry. These key skills that young Chefs and industry professionals learn as part of their basic training.

As Head Sommelier what’s your main focus?

My main focus as a Sommelier is to offer a wide and varied selection of wines as I’ve never enjoyed going to restaurants where there is only one type of region, grape or style on offer. At Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels I like to offer a variation of wines from different countries, with different prices and different production methods to ensure that I have a wine for whatever a guest may ask me for.

Do the majority of your guests already have an understanding of wine and what they like?

To be honest, not really. Often they remember a name or a grape and I take it as my job to understand what they mean and what they will like. We do of course have some customers that really know their stuff, but the majority are looking to learn and discover which is great.

How do you decide which wines to feature on your menu?

At Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels we work differently in that the wines come first and the menu is then designed around them. When selecting which wines to offer at the restaurant I make sure I taste a good amount and I always ask myself “would you share a bottle of this with your friend?” If I would pay the price and enjoy drinking it, I feature it.

Do you ever get the pairing wrong?

In my opinion, there are no rules concerning pairings, it is only a matter of taste, so I guess for some people maybe I do!

What advice would you tell a person studying wines in order to become Sommelier?

My top tips for someone studying to become a Sommelier would be:

  • Learning the geography, vineyard, soils and grape varieties is pivotal. It’s like learning how to read music if you want to play the violin. Once you know how to do this you are able to understand what you do.
  • Be curious
  • Work hard

What are the qualities needed for this job?

In order to be a good Sommelier you need to be curious, serious and a hard worker, but there is nothing more important than being passionate.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th November 2016

Julia Oudill, Head Sommelier, Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels