Cover Marie-Paul Herman, Group Sommelier at Maximal Concepts

She may be the somm behind the Champagne and Sake Bar at The Aubrey, but it’s not always all about bubbles for Marie-Paule Herman—even if she is happy to have them any day of the week

Our By The Glass series sees sommeliers and wine experts share some vinous inspiration for your next pour.

Wine was always something familiar to Marie-Paule Herman, whose family was in wine import and export in the Netherlands. And it ended up influencing her career path, which took her from hospitality school to a run of roles in well-known restaurants including three-Michelin-starred De Librije in the Netherlands, El Bulli and Noma, before an opportunity at Amber brought her to Hong Kong a decade ago. In 2017 she joined Maximal Concepts where she curates the wine programmes that accompany the various cuisines served at the group’s restaurants, from Chinese at Mott 32 to Thai at SipSong to Japanese at The Aubrey. At the latter, the izakaya that calls the Mandarin Oriental home, Herman helms the Champagne and Sake Bar, where guests will not only find a selection of lesser-known Champagnes, sakes and sparkling sakes, but also The Aubrey’s own house champagne Hostomme – Tradition Cuvée The Aubrey, for which Herman worked with Hostomme, a Maison in Chouilly, Champagne.

“It’s an assemblage of the three grape varietals: chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir. It is a very refreshing champagne with aromas of citrus green and red apples with a soft bubble which makes it very easy to drink," she says. "This collaboration was made possible because it is a Maison that I have a longstanding relationship with. My goal was to create a champagne that could be drunk at any stage of the day or night, with or without food, that everyone would enjoy—and I think we achieved that.”

From Champagne to sparkling wine to the ideal occasion for rosé, Herman shares some of her most significant wines and her picks for perfect pours. 

An early (in your career) wine that made you go ‘Wow! (I want to be a somm)’

Tough question! There are quite a few to list, but if I must choose it would be Sylvain Cathiard – Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts 1999 poured from a magnum: it's super elegant and silky with aromas of cherries, blackberries, spices, and a touch of wood but very well integrated.

Most memorable pour

Château d’Yquem 1921. This was at a special wine dinner during my time working at El Bulli in Spain. The bottle came directly from the Château, and wow! It was still alive!

Tipple for a Tuesday

Bubbles! A sparkling person needs a sparkling wine! It does not even always need to be Champagne… For myself, on a weekday at the moment I am enjoying Crémant d’Alsace from Albert Boxler a lot.

Sun, sea and …

Rosé all day …

Wine of the moment

Currently I am drinking a lot of wines from Peter Jakob Kühn – Rheingau Germany. The Sankt Nikolaus GG is super aromatic with grapefruit, floral, some spices and yellow plum.

What you wish a customer would order (so you can taste it—for taint, of course)

Oooh, can I pick more than one? It’s gotta be Leroy Domaine d’Auvenay – Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru.

What you love to recommend to guests

I love to recommend wines they have never tasted before and teach them something new. In most of my wine lists you find quite a bit of riesling. Why? Because I personally love it, but it’s such an underrated varietal. Most of guests will still say ‘no I don’t drink sweet’, until I convince them to take a riesling flight with me, and I show them how versatile and amazing it is.

Best from your by-the-glass list

All my Champagnes by the glass at The Aubrey, but if I need to choose my favourite it would be Vouette et Sorbée – Fidèle Extra Brut Blanc de Noir – Buxières-sur-Arce.

Bottle to bring to a dinner party

A bottle of Champagne—it’s the only wine you can drink as an aperitif, during dinner and after dinner.

What’s in your cellar?

In my cellar I have mostly Burgundy, a fair bit of Spanish wine, Champagne and riesling.

The last glass you drank?

Stonyridge – Larose 2003 – Waiheke Island New Zealand poured from a magnum.

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