Leading female sommelier wins at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Cheryline Coulon from Constance Le Prince Maurice won this year’s Wine Competition at the 9th edition of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau in Mauritius.

Cheryline Coulon, sommelier at Le Prince Maurice

Cheryline Coulon, sommelier at Le Prince Maurice

Cheryline tells her story of how she’s found her place as one of the rising sommelier stars in Mauritius.

I had the opportunity to start my career in France, in the largest palaces of the Cote d’Azur in Nice in 2006, including the Palais de la Méditerranée, Le Méridien and Sol Cala Di Ajaccio in Corsica.

In 2009 I got a big break when I had the opportunity to learn and share extensively with industry professionals in the champagne bar ‘L’Effervescence’ in the Old Town, Nice. From that moment my love and passion for wine has not stopped evolving.

On my return to Mauritius in 2010, I started working at Constance Belle Mare Plage and then moved onto Le Prince Maurice. Constance is a pioneer in this field, and attaches great importance to food and wine.

The Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau is an extraordinary experience for everyone involved. It’s a trying week both mentally and physically but it also offers unforgettable encounters with Star Chefs from around the world. Do not forget the wine and cuisine walking hand in hand. A good dish should be highlighted by wine and vice versa, this is what is known as the triad.

The festival is also an opportunity for us candidates to excel, to question, to see our limitations and to improve.

I am delighted to have won the title of Best Sommelier Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014 and to have had the honour to represent Constance Le Prince Maurice. I am now taking part in the competition of the Best Sommelier of Mauritius 2014.

In the words of David Biraud (Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2004): “I have known many more defeats than victories, but the important thing is to get up and persevere.”

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Journey into South African wine country Part 2

Continuing on the trail of our Constance sommeliers’ journey in South Africa to source some of the finest wines from the country to bring back for our guests, Jerome Faure reveals what they found on the final days of the tour.

South African wines: Jerome meets the team at La Vierge Wines

South African wines: Jerome meets the team at La Vierge Wines

Day 3

Having stayed at the Hamilton Russell vineyard in the morning we had a tasting of the Hamilton Russell range. Selected from 3 terroirs (Southern Right, Ashbourne and Hamilton Russell) the wines included the Chardonnay 10, 11, 12 Hamilton Russell and the Pinot Noir 10, 11, 12 Hamilton Russell. Amongst the white wines the 2011 stands out for its lively wine with a fresh taste and good minerals. For the reds the highlight was the 2012, an intense wine, complex with good concentration.

Staying in the Hemel-en-Aarde region next we visited Creation, where Swiss winemaker Jean Claude Martin and his wife Carolyn Martin of the Finlayson family create a wide range of wines which each nicely express the terroir.

From there we ventured to the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde valley to visit Newton Johnson, a family run business. We tried the 2012 wines from the new terroirs – Mrs M with sandy soil next to a river, Block 6 with a combination of sandy and clay soil, Windandsea with clay soil on the top of the slope. We found that the sandy soil gave the wines elegance and finesse and the clay gave roundness, structure and freshness.

Next we visited one of the Alheit Vineyards where the Cartology they produce may be the best wine in South Africa. Now in its third vintage it is a very exciting wine with complexity and freshness. At Alheit their ambition is to create the best Chenin of the Western Cape so the 2012 Radio Lazarus uses only old vines, 18 barrels from a single vineyard.

At Crystalum Wines we tasted the Pinot Noir which had body and structure but was still fine and elegant. The Chardonnay had a nice balance with finesse and complexity. Definitely a winemaker I will be following in the future.

Day 4

Staying in the breathtaking Hemel-en-Aarde Valley our last stop was to La Vierge Wines. A new winemaker joined this still very young vineyard last year and made his first vintage in 2013. Having worked for 10 years in Martinborough, his focus is very much on the terroir. During our tasting we discovered wines of elegance and finesse on top of intense fruit aromas. This is another winemaker to follow.

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Romantics guide to getting married in the Seychelles

It’s not hard to picture the romance of the Seychelles’ white sand beaches and crystal waters but a wedding in the Seychelles could also be the stress-free option.

Getting married in the Seychelles

Getting married in the Seychelles

Perfect weather

If you’re looking for uninterrupted blue skies the best time of year to book your Seychelles wedding is from April to October. This is the islands’ dry season when it is not unusual to have dry spells of two weeks or more.

Perfect location

The Seychelles is world-famous for its powder white sand beaches framed by distinctive granite boulders, leading into calm clear waters. Anse Lazio on Praslin is often ranked in the top 10 beaches of the world.

Other dramatic locations for weddings on the island include its numerous picturesque Roman Catholic churches and beautiful colonial mansions.

Wedding planners

Book a wedding package at Constance Lémuria or Constance Ephélia, and one of our wedding co-ordinators will take care of everything for you.

We will plan with you in advance any personal requests such as flower preferences, cake choices and music. We can also organise the photographer, wedding video, table decorations, or even a live band to play for you.

Your day, your way

Constance Ephélia, Seychelles

Idyllic location: Constance Ephélia, Seychelles

By law you are required to arrive in the Seychelles several days before your wedding giving you the perfect opportunity to look at the wedding venue options and choose the one that’s right for you.

You can meet the hotel or resort’s hair and make up stylists to go through how you want to look on your wedding day.

Pamper yourself

Both Constance Lémuria and Constance Ephélia have a range of romantic private dining options, including in-villa dining, exclusive excursion and spas. Enjoy a Bridal dreams, Perfect Day treatment at Lémuria including a manicure and full body massage or take your partner and experience a couple’s aroma massage followed by a glass of champagne at Ephélia.

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The heat is on… Day 3 at Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Wednesday 2 April – the final day to get everything ready before tomorrow’s finals at the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau 2014.

Peter Bojesen gives the day’s highlights from Mauritius.

Event chefs: Jacob Holmstrom & Masashi Ijichi

Event chefs: Jacob Holmstrom & Masashi Ijichi

A final without the star chefs present – only the Island chefs will be allowed in the kitchen at Constance Belle Mare Plage, each with an appointed commis chef at his side.

Today was the day when the finishing touches to the recipes are made, the dressing of the dishes approved, the recipes written.

I arrive in the kitchen in the morning and the tension is palpable at several of the stations. Some chefs seem to be more relaxed than others, however. One of those is Mirto Marchesi from Switzerland: ‘I’ve been very lucky with my Island partner, Emmanuel Fortuno, who normally works here at Constance Belle Mare Plage,’ he says. The two are sitting at a table with their starter dish in front of them, trying to compose a fitting name and to write the recipe required by the jury. The starter looks like a beautiful painting, where red, orange and green colours dominate. Hopefully, it tastes as good as it looks…

Chef Masachi Ijichi comes from Japan, and runs a one-star restaurant in the French city of Valence and speaks very little English. As his Island partner, Damika Sarath doesn’t speak French a translator is needed, but apparently it hasn’t affected the bonding between the two chefs. ‘Everything is going just fine,’ Masachi says with a big smile, ‘we have the same kind of philosophy regarding gourmet cooking, and I have learned quite a lot from my new friend, who normally works at Constance Halalevi in the Maldives.’

German chef Jens Rittmeyer also seems quite cool in spite of the heat in the kitchen. ‘I enjoy working with my partner Dinushan Patabadage who comes from Sri Lanka but works at Constance Moofushi in the Maldives. Our two dishes are well under way, and I am sure that Dinushan will perform well tomorrow,’ he says, while his partner is busy dressing the main course on a bone white Raynaud plate.

Leaving the kitchen, I enter the Blue Penny Café, which today hosts the Service and Arts de Table competition, which for several years has been a part of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau. Five tables have been beautifully laid, each occupied by two carefully chosen guests. Each table has been assigned a waiter, each of whom has won an internal competition in five of the hotels in the Constance group.

The guests are served a gourmet lunch by the five waiters in question under the watchful eye of three jury members, one of which being Mme. Dominique Loiseau. I watch several courses being expertly served, red and white wine properly presented and poured, coffee and tea offered. Everything seems to be perfectly in order, and I am quite sure that the jury will have a tough task deciding on the winner.

But just like the cooking- and sommelier competitions, we shall all have to be patient and wait until Saturday night to learn the names of the different winners of the ninth edition of the Bernard Loiseau Culinary competition.

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Champagne Deutz sponsors Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

Interview with Fabrice Rosset

Fabrice Rosset of Champagne Deutz

Fabrice Rosset of Champagne Deutz

An event of the magnitude of the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau could obviously not happen without the support of sponsors. Luckily, their number is steadily growing every year, and at this year’s edition more than 30 companies from Mauritius and elsewhere are taking part.

One of those involved since the very beginning nine years ago is Air Mauritius, which since 2006 has brought hundreds of contestants, jury members and journalists to the island in its fleet from as far as Shanghai, London and Paris.

Another important, main sponsor since day one is Champagne Deutz and its sister company Maison Delas Frères with its selection of wines from the Rhône valley.

Both companies are managed by Fabrice Rosset, and I have talked to him regarding his relationship with Constance Hotels & Resorts in general and the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau in particular.

‘As with many other things in life, it all started through a personal friendship with some of the Constance hotel managers, especially Christophe Plantier and Bruno le Gac.

‘I also knew Dominique Loiseau quite well, and when they approached me a decade ago with the idea to create a tribute to her husband Bernard, I immediately found it worth pursuing. I also found the unique concept of the festival extremely interesting, so even though I do not have a big budget for events like that, I said let’s do it! A decision I haven’t regretted for a second,’ he adds with a smile.

‘Sponsoring an event like this is obviously also a question of image,’ Fabrice Rosset continues,’ and the luxury hotels of the Constance group and its world-renowned level of superb service fit perfectly with the profile we want for our two companies, Champagne Deutz and Maison Delas Frères.

Apart from sponsoring another hotel chain on the same level of high quality as Constance, The Peninsula group, we do not invest in events in other hotels. An additional benefit of working with the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau is obviously the fact that it gives my wife, Marie-Jeanne a perfect excuse to visit all our Constance friends in Mauritius once a year.’

Before leaving with his wife for a round of golf at the next-door Legend championship course, Fabrice Rosset informs me that more than 300 bottles of Deutz champagne areconsumed during the six day event. I look forward to my share of these magnificent, golden bubbles…

Keep up-to-date with all the action from the Culinary Festival Bernard Loiseau

 

Journey into South African wine country Part 1

At a time when South African wines are soaring to new heights of sophistication, Constance head sommelier Jerome Faure toured the country to seek out the best of this new breed of exciting wines.

Wine country: Enjoying a glass or two with Anthony Hamilton Russell.

Wine country: Enjoying a glass or two with Anthony Hamilton Russell.

Here is Jerome’s diary of discovery around the wine regions of South Africa.

Day 1

I arrived in South Africa with Jerome Carlier, head sommelier at Constance Le Prince Maurice, and Gaetan of Constance Moofushi. Together we visited the Raats Family winery in Stellenbosch for a tasting with Gavin. Raats wines are very famous for their Chenin and Cabernet Franc. We really liked the quality of the Cabernet, it was lively and fruity with soft tannins – I would say one of the top Cabernet Francs in South Africa. The Chenin was beautiful as well.

Later that day we visited the Marianne Estate also in Stellenbosch which has a nice range of wine, especially since the arrival of François, the new winemaker. He has added a fresh touch to the wine with more elegance and less extraction. This is definitely an estate to watch.

Day 2

We visited the Colmant Estate in the Franschhoek Valley. Run by Jean Philippe Colmant, it is a very young winery dedicated to cap classique with a small production of about 45,000 bottles a year. This is definitely one of the best cap classique producers, its sparklings are crisp and balanced with a nice acidity and could certainly be mistaken for champagne in a blind tasting.

Also in the Franschhoek Valley is the famous winery Chamonix where we ventured next. Its range of products are presided over by winemaker Gottfried Mocke. Most people associate Pinotage with South Africa and Chamonix makes one of the best in the region with a nice body and structure, a long finish and beautiful tannins.

Later that day we travelled south to Hamilton Russell Vineyards, one of the most southerly wine estates in Africa, where we had a fantastic night with owners Olive and Anthony tasting 3 top wines. The first was the Chardonnay 89 which slightly oxidises on the nose but overall is very charming with a surprising amount of freshness.

The second wine we tasted was the Pinot Noir 85, the third vintage from Hamilton Russell and an amazing bottle, elegant and silky with a mid-mouth with hints of blackcurrant, black wild fruits and undergrowth aromas balanced by a perfect acidity and smooth tannins. It is a wine ready to drink now but still has ageing potential. The third wine was a Pinot 01, still a young wine despite its 12 years, it has a dark colour with richness, elegance and body. The balance and harmony of the wine could be compared to a Vosne Romanée.

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