The name Julie Dupouy might not be immediately familiar to you, but you’ve probably heard of some of the restaurants she’s trained in – Patrick Guilbaud, Chapter One, The Greenhouse, a few of Ireland’s most impressive and award-winning eateries.
Julie was born in the South West of France, in the city of Agen – two hours from Bordeaux – and comes from a background where cooking and sharing family meals together is an everyday occurrence.
Her passion for good food comes from her grandmother – who used to pen some of her finest recipes on the wallpaper of their family kitchen.
Her family on her father’s side also boasts a rich culinary appreciation, with one of Julie’s first experiences of wine coming from the traditional method of chabrot where, following the almost complete consumption of a bowl of soup, one pours a little red wine into the mixture and consumes the mixture by tipping the plate to your lips.
“That was kind of my first taste of wine,” she laughs coyly.
“But then when I was 16, my granddad opened a bottle of wine for my birthday, bought on the date of my birth. They gave me a small amount of wine to celebrate the birthday and I thought that was fascinating.”
That, paired with some light soul searching, prompted Julie to tell her parents, aged 16, that she wanted to be a sommelier.
“They didn’t even know what it was!”
Julie now holds the title of Best Sommelier in Ireland 2018 and currently works as a consultant with the 1* Michelin Chapter One Restaurant and as Brand Ambassador with Edward Dillon’s Champagne portfolio, which includes Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon, Ruinart and Krug.
On top of all that, Julie also runs her own sommelier consulting business, Down2Wine, offering private wine tastings and training.
A typical workday for her does not exist, she says.
On the rainy Tuesday afternoon when I meet her for a lunchtime tasting at the Westbury, she already spent her morning helping someone with their sommelier masters in Melbourne, Australia and plans to dash to Dundrum for more training after we finish up.
“I love what I do. I love the lack of routine. I also love teaching others – I try to be helpful to all those willing to learn because I have been so fortunate to have such great teachers helping me.”
In 2016, Julie finished 3rd at the ASI World Sommelier Championship representing Ireland and the Irish Guild of Sommeliers.
As ambitious as she is charming – she dedicated the weekend before meeting me to playing a full round of golf, despite 40km/h gusts – Dupuoy’s nature is that of an emotive and social joie de vivre.
What’s more impressive than her tenacity and cheery disposition (even with both of our feet wet) is the sheer wealth of knowledge she boasts about the industry. Within 20 minutes of meeting, she informs me of the origins of each sample we taste, the importance of using coal fires over wood fires for wine bottles and how Moët & Chandon’s Rosé was Napoléon Bonaparte’s tipple of choice.
“Moët’s cellars are actually the longest in the world. It’s quite common for champagne and wine cellars to be a couple of kilometres in length, but Moët’s are 28km – dating all the way back to 1743!”
Ahead of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it summer months ahead, Julie recommends the often-overlooked category of sake. “Over the summer, I will be drinking junmai sake – this means that it is made purely from rice and nothing else. I will be pairing this with a fresh tomato salad, with burrata and an olive oil dressing. It’s unusual, but it really works!”
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Bye bye for now #Singapore but see you soon again. . . It has been an incredible week including the global launch of @exsto_cognac . . Thank you @sabrina.paris for everything . . So many amazing encounters, beautiful food and cognac pairings, and many "first times" such as tasting #durian fruit . . . Thank you so much to @sarathedear and Bernie, our distributors in Singapore, for their warm welcome and for organising all those wonderful events. . . Thank you also to @garibaldisingapore @1880singapore and to all our partners in Singapore. . . #cognac #cognaclover #exstocognac #exsto #elixir #orimperial #launch #sommelier #sommelierlife #newchallenges #keeppushing #dreambig #tastediscoverandshare
Petite, softly-spoken and altogether quintessentially French (she does her food shop from a farmer’s market every Saturday morning) Dupouy employs an altogether affable approach to wine-tasting that is both refreshing and gratifying.
“If you order fish and hate white wine, even if I serve you the best white in the world, you’re not going to like it. The most important thing is to drink something that you actually enjoy drinking. That’s when emotion comes into play.
“I actually think Ireland has one of the best wine markets in the world. When I go back home, the only wines at a restaurant will be from Bordeaux. Here, you get to sample different tastes from all over the world. And that’s wonderful.”
So, what’s next for one of the world’s best sommeliers?
“I really want to get better at golf!” she grins. “I’m also consulting with a cognac brand at the moment, of which the owners are all women. Other than that, I hope to keep learning and sharing what I find. That’s the best thing about what I do – getting to understand people through the beauty of champagne!”
Moët & Chandon is, this year, thrilled to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Moët Impérial, an important milestone in the extraordinary journey of a global icon of celebration. To mark this moment, the Maison is delighted to unveil a limited-edition bottle inscribed with a badge of honour – the “I” of “Impérial” – as a crowning tribute to the precious 150-year history of this remarkable champagne. Imperial in grandeur, historic in trajectory, authentic in flavour.
Click here for more info on Down2Wine.