He is one of the familiar faces in our restaurants, working side by side with chef Marc Segarra to create outstanding pairings of wines and dishes and always ready to help clients choose the right wine or drink. We interview the sommelier and restaurant manager of Abadía Retuerta Le Domaine to find out more about his work.
Born in Liverpool to an English mother and Spanish father, Miguel Ángel García -Mickey for his friends and colleagues- was raised halfway between Valladolid and England. Interested in tourism and the hospitality industry from an early age, Mickey trained in top establishments such as the famous Princesa Yaiza Hotel in Lanzarote. In 2010 he joined Abadía Retuerta Le Domaine as a waiter’s assistant, but he quickly progressed to become a sommelier and room manager four years ago. His passion for wine has helped him to launch his career at Abadía Retuerta Le Domaine.
How did you get into wine?
Wine has been present in my life since I was a child because my family worked in the sale and distribution of wines and spirits. But it’s true that I started to develop a stronger bond that turned into passion when I started working at Abadía Retuerta, right at the launch of LeDomaine.
Did anything in particular trigger this passion?
The company invested in my training, encouraged me and empowered me to progress, and this is something for which I will always be grateful. In addition, my taste and dedication to wine have developed here. I always say that despite having graduated from university, Abadía Retuerta was my real university; it is where I have really learned and progressed.
Why did you choose to become a sommelier rather than a winemaker or a grower?
The truth is that even though I studied tourism, I always wanted to pursue a career in hospitality. As a student, I worked in this sector to earn some money. I thought I was good at it and wanted to progress in the food and drinks area. But once inside, wine and other beverages caught my attention so much that I decided to train as a sommelier.
What surprised you the most about Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine when you arrived here?
It was a fairly young company. The hotel and restaurants had not even opened yet, but I was struck by the estate and the grandeur of the property and how it had been restored. Also the commitment to excellence in all areas of business and the patience to develop each service.
Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine’s restaurant offer is one of the best in the area. How do you select the ideal wines to pair with it?
Starting from such a sensational product makes our work much easier. At Abadía Retuerta we can offer different vintages, historical wines that are no longer produced and that are very difficult to find, trials and experiments with varieties other than those usually found in the area in our Winemaker Collection Wines…
But we also go much further. Given our location, we have one of the best wine selections in the Duero region, with some verticals, special vintages, little-known wines from small producers… And then we strive to offer a broad selection of international wines with some of the best producers and vintages we can find. If our clients want to indulge themselves, we want them to do it at LeDomaine.
I also love Sherry, an area that is once again booming and that is sheer wine history in our country.
What is it like working with chef Marc Segarra to create pairings of wines and dishes?
We try to work as a team. From the moment Marc comes up with a possible dish, we gear up the machinery to create the pairing. We test and analyse different options until we find the right way. There is quite a lot of trial-and-error throughout the process. We also like to get feedback from our teams.
What is your particular strategy to make customers who visit the restaurants Refectorio and Vinoteca happy?
I like to be natural and kind and I welcome them with a smile. We try to act as hosts and treat clients as we would like to be treated if we were sitting at the table.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve been asked to do in your years as a sommelier at LeDomaine?
I don’t know whether I should answer or not…hahaha! Pour some ice on a really expensive wine!
What wine do you recommend to diners who acknowledge that they are not really into wine?
Fruity, low-alcohol wines with sweet flavours. Some women tend to like refreshing, slightly sweet wines like Riesling.
Which Abadía Retuerta wine has moved you the most?
I’d say a 2006 Pago Garduña that I tried shortly after I started working here. It was one of those bottles that awakened my passion for wine.
Do you have a favourite grape variety? Which one and why?
I wouldn’t know how to answer categorically. I love Riesling because it is possibly the world’s most versatile variety and can virtually deliver all the sensory elements that the palate is capable of identifying. I am also passionate about good, mature Cabernet, and about Chardonnay, which is so versatile and food-friendly and displays a wide variety of styles depending on its origin and production method. I also love Syrah because it is sweet, round and floral.
What’s the wine pairing that never fails and can be arranged by anyone at home?
An old sweet PX with chocolate; a fino or manzanilla with rich and salty dishes; Tempranillo reds with lamb; Italian Nebbiolo-based reds and mushrooms… Territorial pairings always work. The traditional wines of each region tend to fit perfectly with the local cuisine.
Can you give us some advances of the wines that you are most likely to recommend this summer to customers coming to Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine?
We are awaiting the release of new Abadía Retuerta wines: a new white, different rosés that will only be available in our estate and some other surprises that will be served in Refectorio, but you will have to visit us here to taste them!
Wine for you is…
A way of life, something that keeps me on my toes and eager to learn every day. It’s such a vast area of knowledge that when you think you know something, you realize you don’t know anything. It’s impossible to get bored!