Interview avec Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal

Interview with Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal, 'Mr Wine’ at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort

Published on February 16, 2024Updated on March 11, 2024

For Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer, oenology and sommellerie are a matter of expertise and excellence. A philosophy that resonates from the wine cellars of the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo to the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. This is where Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal, head sommelier of the Blue Bay Marcel Ravin** and the hotel's other restaurants, works on a daily basis with Chef Marcel Ravin and is the embodiment of sommellerie made in Monaco. A look back at a career built on authenticity, expertise and passion.


One discovery among many

On the terrace of Blue Bay Marcel Ravin**, a gastronomic restaurant where you can discover the astonishing Michelin-starred cuisine of Chef Marcel Ravin, visitors from all over the world can discover Adrien Berlioz 2021's Chignin Bergeron, a Savoyard nectar that sits alongside some of France's most prestigious appellations on the wine list. As a way of opening up to a little-known terroir "too often associated with raclettes", this reference is one of the latest additions to a menu designed by Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal, head sommelier at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, and a veritable open book on wine, its service, its specificities and its surprises...


"A crystalline wine of great purity ".
Interview avec Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal
Interview avec Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal

A head sommelier with close ties to Monaco


From one Riviera to another... It was in Brighton, on the English Riviera, that Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal began his career. Originally from the South-West of France, he began his career in Toulouse, with a vocational baccalaureate followed by an additional qualification in sommellerie. He was still a young man when, after six months’ experience in the UK, this oenology specialist found his first job on the Côte d'Azur, at the Hotel Vista Palace, which then stood on the tip of Cap Martin. After his national service in 1992, Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal headed for the Pointe de la Veille, this time with an initial mission at the Monte-Carlo Beach, followed by an experience at the Métropole (where he worked with Chef Joël Robuchon), the sign of his definitive move to the Principality. As head sommelier, this Monegasque by adoption became part of the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort adventure: "I joined this establishment when it opened eighteen years ago". Since then, he has been responsible for all the wine lists of the various exceptional restaurants on the Larvotto peninsula.


A seasonal wine list

"Marcel Ravin's cuisine is full of surprises, spicy touches and work on the different textures of the same ingredient, which makes the challenge of matching food and wine very interesting", explains Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal. As head sommelier at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, this specialist works with the creative personality of Blue Bay chef Marcel Ravin** to give real value-added to the nectars proposed with each menu. In this way, the cellar and the kitchen influence each other, while highlighting one of the major aspects of the establishment: seasonality. It is a committed restaurant, with a kitchen garden where both local species and 'exotic' fruit and vegetables, such as christophine, grow, and the restaurant regularly changes its menus to reflect the rhythm of nature. The sommelier adapts his range of wines according to the time of year and the climate. "A seasonal menu, even in summer, is not necessarily 100% suitable for fine evenings on the terrace when the temperature is approaching 35°C, so we adapt our suggestions to serve wines that are more refreshing rather than perfect matches", explains the head sommelier.


Interview avec Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal

A lovely ballet

Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal can count on his efficiency and adaptability in his traditional role of designing the wine lists for the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort's various restaurants- the Blue Bay Marcel Ravin**, as well as Las Brisas and l'Orange Verte. In terms of service, for example, the use of tablets rather than paper menus means that the wine list can be updated weekly to suit both seasonal dishes and new supplies. "We no longer draw up a wine list as we used to, for six months: today some of our references will be present for a month, a month and a half, before being replaced by others", explains the head sommelier. "These changes are taking place against a backdrop of falling production among winegrowers, due in particular to the climatic changes affecting French winegrowing regions. Some of our partners can no longer supply quantities of 60 bottles of a Grand Cru as they used to, but rather 18 or 24, which means we have to constantly renew our stock". What’s more, the research work and collaboration with the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo's central cellar are intensive. The Blue Bay Marcel Ravin** has a permanent wine list featuring 250 different wines, all of which can be adapted to the Chef's creations, but also to suit the tastes of our guests, who are sometimes on the lookout for alternatives and new discoveries.


Interview avec Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal

A head sommelier who listens

A sommelier in Monaco will necessarily be interacting with a very broad, international audience, who come to the Principality to sample the excellence of its gastronomy and the prodigality of its cellars. In many cases, the great Bordeaux wines, the great vintages of Burgundy and the most prestigious champagnes are a must on the wine list of the Blue Bay Marcel Ravin** and all the gastronomic venues of the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort. But Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal's approach to sommellerie goes far beyond this list of prestigious names: "The important thing is to understand the customer's expectations before making suggestions, and this exchange is essential", explains the head sommelier. At the table, this sometimes leads to a transitivity "from an appellation that is well known and loved by a customer; with a famous starting point like Chablis or Sancerre, we can move on to rarer terroirs, to showcase wines that are close to the customer's tastes, but which offer them a truly new experience". Whether it’s with a Savoy wine or a nectar from the emerging terroir of Georgia, Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal creates a wine list that combines authenticity, renown and innovation: "I'm not disclaiming any of the 250 wines on the list, of course, but what's important, beyond the labels, is that the wine served to the customer matches their tastes, the moment and the gastronomic experience they've come to enjoy at Blue-Bay Marcel Ravin** ".


Interview avec Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal

Different tables, different approaches

As well as the Blue Bay Marcel Ravin**, Las Brisas and l'Orange Verte also benefit from suggestions prepared by Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal. "Las Brisas is more of a summer restaurant, so we'll be offering more white and rosé wines, while L'Orange Verte has more of a brasserie feel, with customers generally coming here for a meal at all times of the day, so we try to serve wines that are a little simpler than at the Blue Bay**", explains the Master of Wines. Guests at these two restaurants also have access to Marcel Ravin's wine list: "We want to give people who also want to treat themselves at L'Orange Verte or Las Brisas access to the vintages of the gastronomic restaurant", concludes Mr Veyrat de Lachenal.


Interview avec Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal
Interview avec Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal

A profession made up of encounters


As a very active member of the Association of Sommeliers of Monaco, the head sommelier of the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort praises the human experience that emerges from his exchanges with his counterparts. His meetings with other sommeliers from the Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer, in the heart of the Cellars of the Hôtel de Paris, also remind him of the collective dimension of this fine profession: "We don't visit each other in our establishments, or rarely, so this is an opportunity to be in direct contact with the cellar master and other sommeliers", explains Gérard Veyrat de Lachenal. This legendary venue is also where professionals occasionally meet winegrowers who have come to organise tastings. "It maintains the link with them; sometimes winegrowers come down to the Bay unannounced and say hello to you, without any commercial exchange, and that's a real pleasure because it creates a natural and friendly exchange". It is clear, be it with customers or suppliers, the head sommelier has a central role to play in bringing wine lovers together!


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