If you’re looking for a foodie gift or are interested in learning more about wine yourself then Le Petit Ballon could be the answer.
Headed up by Master Sommelier Jean-Michel Deluc, the service sends two carefully selected wines out to subscribers each month, along with ‘The Gazette’ which contains helpful tasting tips, but without the waffle. Everything is explained in layman’s terms, which means that whether you’re a wine aficionado, or a novice, there’ll be something to learn with each delivery. The monthly subscription service introduces customers to the best wines from around the world, making it a really fab gift for anyone who loves wine or wants to learn more!
Jean-Michel carefully has a wealth of experience in wine and has spent the last six years selecting the most exciting and delicious wines for his wine club postal subscription business. But how does someone get such a job?
We asked Jean-Michel a few questions, and here’s what we learned about the Master Sommelier.
1. Tell us a little about your upbringing
I was born in the Armagnac region in the Gers capital Auch. My parents were not in the wine trade, far from it. My mother worked in a library and my father in a hospital.
2. What brought you to London?
I wanted to learn English to help me succeed in my wine career, so I took the Cambridge courses and paid for it by working at the Café Royal in London.
3. How did you get into the wine business?
At the Café Royal where I started as a waiter actually. After two years, the manager asked me to turn my attention to the wines. I accepted but on one condition – that they pay for my wine training! I did this with the English Wine Association (Wine Butler) and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). So I’m most proud of my sommelier diploma and my English!
4. You are a Maitre-Sommelier, a Master Sommelier. How is this achieved and when and where did you achieve it?
I acheved it in 1991. In France it is the French Sommelier Association which give you the title when they think you deserve it. It’s a kind of “legion d’honneur” for the corporation. I took the exam for the Master Sommelier Court, but left England before finishing it.
5. You are the co-founder of Le Petit Ballon. How did the company come about and tell us more about it.
Six years ago I met Martin Ohanessian who explained to me his project. I said yes because the idea was simple and would offer me the opportunity to get closer to the consumers.
Le Petit Ballon’s idea to talk about wine without the waffle was very appealing and innovative!
We started the business alone and now after six years we’ve grown to a staff of 25 people.
6. Are you a good cook?
My friends say that I am a good cook. I get inspiration from the chefs I have worked with without forgetting my mother and her delicious home cooking. I love inventing and creating. My wife does not like cooking with too much fat, so I have adapted my cooking for her, reducing gravy, using fresh and seasonal ingredients, a lot vegetables, fish… I try to respect the product and to be simple.
7. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three wines would you take with you?
A very light and easy drinking Champagne like the pure Chardonnay growth from Pierre Moncuit.
A nice bottle of Bordeaux, maybe a Saint-Julien from Château Saint-Pierre.
And lastly, an Ort wine from my vintage 1955. Because of its complexity… A little like me today.
8. Tell us about your loves and hates
I hate big headed sommeliers, I hate the people who have got bad habits and
I hate complicated food!
I love having a meal with good friends, I love respectful and well-educated people, I love to have a bit of solitude sometimes.