JEAN-MARIE CONTESTIN

Head sommelier at The Strathearn Restaurant (Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland)

The Strathearn Restaurant, Gleneagles Hotel. This is where you'll find Jean-Marie, the head sommelier. He tells us the Gleneagles Hotel opened in 1924 as a golf resort but eventually became known as a gastronomic destination. Today it is one of the most prestigious places to visit in the entire United Kingdom.

 

This historical spot on the British isles, a standard bearer of high-class pleasures, is on our list of friends abroad. Wine brings people together and builds bridges of understanding. The heart and the palate are closely connected.

 

Gleneagles Hotel (Scotland)

 

Let's get to know Jean-Marie. “I studied wine at Catering College (France), and after working at a high-end restaurant for a couple of years, I decided to go abroad to discover and learn everything about wine and its world. During my five years in London, I worked at places like Le Pont de la Tour (a luxury French brasserie) and Umu (a Michelin-starred restaurant). Then I spent some time in the English countryside, at Gidleigh Park (a Michelin-starred restaurant in Devon), until finally I landed here, at Gleneagles, in October 2018.”


 

His career has clearly followed a hallowed tradition, something his clientele knows and appreciates. Although of a classic persuasion, his guests do have an adventurous touch, which Jean-Marie enjoys catering to:


 

“Our guests not only expect our wine list to include classic regions (Burgundy, Bordeaux, etc.), but diversity as well, such as lesser-known wine regions, even countries. Our guests are increasingly interested in ‘discovering’ something new.”


 

Our protagonist had an interesting first encounter with our family's wines. The circumstances couldn't have been more auspicious, or the company better: “I discovered Familia Torres wines at a John E. Fells master class in London (in 2012 or 2013), organized by Gerard Basset. Miguel Torres himself was there, and he presented a range of different high-end wines.”

 

Exclusive table in the wine cellar of The Strathearn Restaurant (Gleneagles Hotel, Scotland)

 

 

 

“Since then Familia Torres wines have always been on our wine list, at Pont de la Tour, at Gidleigh Park, and now at Gleneagles too.”

 


 

Milmanda and Mas La Plana are the proud envoys of our wine country. Seamlessly integrated into the restaurant's culinary idiosyncrasies, they are part of an exuberant selection that illuminates the ideas behind some truly divine pairings:


 

“Milmanda works beautifully with the Foie Gras Terrine and the Coffee Crumble. Mas La Plana is a magnificent match with our Highlands venison, Red Cabbage Puree, Herb & Garlic Gnocchi, Hazelnuts and Chocolate.”


 

When Jean-Marie mentions both emotional and experiential reasons in describing the uniqueness of his restaurant and the relationship between his loyal clientele and our family wines, we feel particularly proud.


 

“When you recommend a Familia Torres wine to a guest, you also have to talk about the family and its philosophy, its values. If you ask me, Familia Torres's strength derives from the care with which it treats people, the environment, and the wines, of course. They’re a testament to the fact that great Spanish wines exist beyond La Rioja.”


 

In closing, our friend Jean-Marie suggests a challenge. “I would be curious to see what would happen if Miguel Torres crossed the Andes into Argentina. And made its own Malbec or Torrontés.  It would be interesting... The sky's the limit,” he says. Dear Jean-Marie, anything is possible when one can rely on the passion and enthusiasm of friends like you. We are one.

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