We are proud to announce that along with Restaurant Le Faubourg’s new menu we have a new and improved wine list, courtesy of our newly appointed sommelier Mathias Brandweiner. Meeting him for a chat about the position one recent autumn afternoon his enthusiasm is palpable and for obvious reasons – his job involves the joy of tasting and selecting over 100 fine wines!
Born in Austria, Mathias discovered his love of wine in his home land while studying hospitality, an education which he describes as “extraordinary”. During this period he was trained in culinary arts and hospitality, learning the ins and outs of becoming a waiter as well as the mechanics of a restaurant kitchen and service team. Despite enjoying his experience this was the turning point when he decided, “I didn’t just want to be a waiter. My ideas crystallised after I realised how much I love wine – I love to learn about it all the time, to try new flavours and discover new tastes that the guests don’t know.” This element of surprise is very important to Mathias and a point he clearly prides himself on. When I ask how he would select a wine for a guest with no clue on what to choose his eyes light up and he exclaims, “This is the best part of my job, I can always surprise my guests! The first thing you have to find out though is the preference of the guest, because it’s very important to know whether they enjoy, for example, more red or more white wine, whether they’re looking for something light or more intense. From here I can play with my wine lists from different countries, and so depending on where you’re from I can maybe suggest something a bit different.” Intrigued I ask Mathias which wine he would recommend for myself. He smiles, “You’re from England, so perhaps you don’t know so many German wines, I might suggest a white fresh crisp Riesling.” – not bad.
The search for the best wines for the restaurant’s list is never over, and to keep abreast of the latest flavours Mathias regularly attends wine tasting sessions. He says “I enjoy going to wine tastings in the south of France as well as local sessions here in Germany and in Austria. The organic wines are particularly cool because they taste so different to normal wines.”
With 150 house wines there is definitely space for a wide range of variety. Mathias explains the structure of the list, consisting of almost half (40%) French wine and half (40%) German wine. Of the remaining 20%, half are international wines (including some excellent Austrian wines, natürlich) and half are champagne, a drink which he is very fond of but very particular. “I prefer blanc de blanc Champagnes, especially from not well known brands. They are quite intense and creamy on the palette, with a brioche taste and high minerality. This can be an amazing match for an intense meat dish – this combination is like a taste explosion!”
When it comes to pairings with the new menu Mathias is also not short of suggestions. Quizzing him on his favourite starter, he plumps on the caramelised goat’s cheese, “It sounds simple, with caramelised flakes and hazelnut but it’s a dish which is light and fresh, just the kind of starter you want to have. For this I have a wine from the Loire French valleys, also with a caramel and hazelnut flavour and on the palette, a nice acidity, high minerality and an oakiness, not too intense but the pairing with this dish is great!”. For his favourite main course, the sumptuous veal ribs, Mathias recommends “A German red wine, the Lemberger, which is just outstanding. It has a really intense cassis and cherry note with a hint of dark chocolate, and this minerality which is an ideal balance with this dish.”
A newcomer to the city based in our beloved City West, when he’s not at home enjoying a glass of his all time favourite wine (An Austrian Grüner Vetliner Ried Lamm produced by Bründlmayer), Mathias is enjoying exploring his new surroundings, often visiting other restaurants in order to survey their wine lists, as well as taking in all of the sights Berlin has to offer. In his short time here of just over a month he has visited the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe already five times, the reflective atmosphere always drawing him in. Despite previously living in London and Austria he appreciates the unique position of the place – “No other city in Europe is so significant for the last 100 years. With the war and the wall, there’s so much history.” His appreciation of other cultures and people is evident, a quality which he believes is essential in hospitality, and we couldn’t agree more. I ask about his impressions of the Berlin guests so far and he smiles, “People here seem to be modern, stylish and open minded, so will drink wines from all around the world. Here the people want to know the history behind the wine and as far as I’ve seen, they love the food and wine pairings!” An excellent start indeed.