Catalonian born Javier Perez studied law before attempting to become a public notary – one of the toughest exams in Spain. After several years of locking himself away to study, Javier put the law aside to dedicate himself to his first passion – hospitality and wine. His career has seen him work as sommelier in places as diverse as San Sebastian, Marbella, Miami and Dubai. His knack for languages and affable manner matched with his extensive knowledge of wines and cuisine is perfectly aligned with the ethos of Seven Pines.
Where did you study?
The first time I studied wine was at the Hotel School Les Roches. From there my interest grew and I did a sommelier course at the Spanish School of Sommeliers in Madrid. Then I continued studying in the United States and London with WSET and the Court of Master Sommeliers, where I am still studying. It’s essential for a sommelier to never stop studying, as this is a world in constant change and development.
What attracted you to the world of the sommelier?
The world of wine is very broad and complicated, but it is a wonderful world. It gives you the opportunity to meet many people and experience countries and different cultures. Every time you uncork a bottle it gives you the chance to travel to its origins. Each bottle is a surprise, and it is beautiful to see how it evolves over time.
How does one become a sommelier?
The Master Sommelier Diploma is the most important title in the world of wine and the most difficult exam there is. There are 4 levels, Introductory, Certified, Advanced and the last and most difficult, Master Sommelier Diploma of which there are only around 200 people in the world. Last year I prepared for the Advanced Exam, which is the third level and the one before the Master Sommelier Diploma.
What’s involved in the examination process?
The exam consists of three parts, a theoretical one, and then a practical where there is a fictional restaurant with several tables and you are put in several different situations and the last is a blind tasting. There are six glasses, three whites and three reds and you have 25 minutes to perform a spoken analysis of the six wines and give a final conclusion of what is in each glass. You have to know the country, region, grape, vintage and quality.
How would you describe the role of a sommelier?
For me, a good sommelier above all has to be humble and communicate in an easy way to bring the wine to the customer, and not the other way around. I aim to change the perception that the sommelier is a bit intimidating and talks to you with difficult technical words and always tries to sell you the most expensive bottle.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
In 2017, I did my examinations in Vienna and I think that those five days were some of my most difficult times but at the same also very rewarding. Our goal is always to create memorable experiences for clients. Apart from this, it is also complicated to combine work schedules with the study… but nothing worthwhile is easy.
What is your favourite wine at the moment?
I’m really enjoying the white wines of Burgundy such as François Raveneau in Chablis and Domaine Leflaive in Puligny Montrachet. In reds, I would definitely choose a good Bordeaux or a Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. My dream is one day to drink a Montrachet from Domaine de la Romanée Conti. I have been able to taste it, but never drink it – hopefully, it will happen soon!
How do you help Seven Pines Resort Ibiza guests select their wines?
I think it is very important to read the client; this also comes from experience, and let them express their preferences a bit. When you see that a customer enjoys your choice of wine, it is exciting. In the end, it is what we work for, to create unforgettable experiences.
Do you have any unexpected or uncommon food and wine combinations?
I love an old Madeira with blue cheese. I think the best match for a wine is the company. I am of those who think that there is a wine for every moment, place and company.
How do you enjoy your free time in Ibiza?
I love going out to discover new restaurants and meet with friends or family and uncork bottles – these are wonderful moments. I also love to go running and diving, especially when I have lived on beach sites with good places like Miami or now in Ibiza.
What does the future hold for you?
Naturally, I am dedicated to continuing to develop the wine cellar at Seven Pines Resort Ibiza and my dream is to get the Master Sommelier Diploma – at the moment, no one in Spain has this qualification!