Interview – Michel Jamais, Sweden
Can you tell us about your job?
I started 30 years ago as a chef, and added wine to my daily job some years later. For more than a decade, I combined my job as executive chef and sommelier, which gave me the opportunity to discover and perfect the art of food and wine. Since the mid-1990s, I've been working in my own consulting company as a sommelier teacher, educator for the trade and a wine writer for the fine wine magazine Livets Goda in Sweden. Travelling is an important part of my work, and I normally spend 12 weeks a year in vineyards in California, Spain, Austria and of course Bourgogne. I also travel to other countries.
What image do you have of Burgundy wines?
First of all I love them for their taste and structure, but I'm also very fascinated by their different personalities, the diversity is amazing if you think about the small production area and the fact that they are made of mainly two grape varieties.
One thing that amazes me, is how modern Bourgogne is today - everybody talks about the great history of Bourgogne, and of course that's very interesting, but the most important thing is how the region taken its position as one of the very leading wine regions in the world in the 21st century.
Focusing on the wines, I think they are better than ever today, at all levels, from Regional to the highly praised Premier and Grand Crus. I also think they are more distinct now than in the past, and they offer both more and riper fruit flavors and more Terroir in the hands of the modern winegrowers and winemakers.
According to you, what are the opportunities for Burgundy Wines in your country?
Over the past ten to fifteen years we have seen a huge renaissance for the wines of Bourgogne in Sweden, first with the wines from Chablis, but in the 2000s also for the wines of Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits, and of course, for Crémant de Bourgogne, which is huge in Sweden. For some reason, the wines from southern Bourgogne is not (yet) as popular, but I guess they will be since the quality price ratio is great!
The future looks good; the wines from Bourgogne are absolutely in fashion, especially among sommeliers and wine lovers in general. Still I see great opportunities for Bourgogne, since most small domaines are not able to export large volumes, so their wines will end up on the wine lists of the restaurants, and sommeliers asks for more and more wines in all price segments from Bourgogne.
What proportion of your activity do Burgundy wines represent?
It all depends on the year and type of work. When it comes to consumer oriented tasting, I believe I only have around 10-12 tastings per year (for around 200-350 persons per year), and for education it'll be around 6 half days for a total of 90-100 sommelier students per years. It's with my writings that Bourgogne becomes very important, I guess some 20 percent of my articles are about Bourgogne - let's say 40-50 pages per year in Livets Goda.
You were invited to Bourgogne to take an accreditation course in Bourgogne wines. What made you accept this invitation?
Although I have been travelling a lot in Bourgogne over the last 10 years, something or actually a lot of things are impossible to learn by travelling, treading the soil, tasting the wines, and talking to the vignerons (winemakres). I also wanted to have the accreditation, to add more power to my knowledge, my tastings and seminars, and also to my writing. With this accreditation, I feel more united to Bourgogne, and I also hope it will help me to reach the next level of understanding for Bourgogne, as a region.
You were accredited as an Official Instructor for Burgundy wines. What did you learn and discover during the week?
Oh, it's almost impossible to answer. I guess the most important thing was to discover Bourgogne from an overall view, to the whole picture in a completely different view than before. I always looked so deep into all small details, I forgot the big picture. After the accreditation, I also feel more confident in how to present Bourgogne to my audience and readers.
What does the fact that you are an Official Instructor for Burgundy wines mean for you?
First of all that I belong to Bourgogne in a different way than before - before the accreditation I was just "a visitor" in Bourgogne, now I'm "part of" Bourgogne. Of course I'm very proud to have been one of the few chosen ones, and that I passed the test and got the accrediation. Now I'm more convinced than ever to dig deeper in the terroir and soul of Bourgogne.
You have been awarded the title of Official Instructor in Burgundy wines. What do you think this qualification will bring you?
I wish it will bring more "fame and glory", but I guess it will make me work even harder than before! (which I have nothing against). No, seriously, I hope that it will open some doors in Bourgogne that so far has been closed, so I can learn more about every detail of Bourgogne. For my work in Sweden, I know I will have the opportunity to be the link between Bourgogne and the Swedish consumers, and I wouldn't complain if it also gave me opportunities to do something for Bourgogne in other countries as well.
- If Burgundy was a woman, whom it would be?
My future wife? The idea is interesting, a wife with so many terroirs? Well, it will take you a lifetime to get to know and understand her, and it will never be boring!
- If you had to leave on a desert island, which Burgundy wine you would take?
If I have to choose one, I guess it would be a Premier Cru from Chambolle-Musigny.
- Where would you like to live in Burgundy?
In Beaune, for its proximity to all vineyards, and for its great restaurants!
- What do you think about when you think about the Burgundy?
Pleasure and delicacy, seductive aromas and silky taste - and food.
- If the Burgundy was a dish, which would it be?
If white, a turbot poached in white wine and butter, served with a white wine sauce cooked with oyster broth. As plain as that.
If red, Bresse chicken breast served with pan fried sweet bread and just a dash of summer truffle.
- If the Burgundy was a color, which would it be?
It'd be white, which to me symbolize transparency and the white limestone, tasted in both whites and reds.