15th of December 2021
Dries Corneillie... one of the "under 30" sommeliers to watch !
Ambitious, precise, very active in his daily life, those are great words to describe Dries Corneillie.
Dries started his wine adventure by going to the Hotel Managment school "Ter Duinen" in Belgium. Following this, he got specialized in the beverage industry by joining the Ter Groene Poorte school in Bruges.
Dries then built his experience and career by working in outstanding restaurants in Belgium, such as former Hertog Jan (3 Michelin stars), the restaurant Boury (2 Michelin stars) and is today the head somm' at De Jonkman (2 Michelin stars). He is also the co-owner of "Sante Wines" a wine distributor which philosophy is to promote organic/biodynamic wines, respectful of the environment.
After winning the Young Sommelier award of Excellence in 2015, and the Ruinart Sommelier Challenge in 2019, Dries has won last October the title of best sommelier in Belgium.
We had the chance to ask him a few questions, here are his answers:
Questions about the Best Somm' of Belgium competition
You have just won the Best Somm' of Belgium competition. In which part of the competition were you the most confident/comfortable?
I was most at ease during the practical tests, which was a stumbling block last year because I am not much of a stage person. Now I just imagined myself in the restaurant as a sommelier and I succeeded very well.
This year, I did extremely well with the blind tasting, I was almost 100% correct about what was in the glass, only the vintage was wrong, I was one year off.
Is that specific to this competition or is that the part where you feel the most comfortable in general ?
It is typical for this kind of competition that there is a large practical part with audience and international jury.
In which part do you train the most and feel you have the most room for improvement, if any?
Without a doubt, the part that you can train you the most is blind tasting. That is something you can never do well enough, it is also extremely difficult.
Name : Dries Corneillie
Nationality : Belgium
Birth year : 1993
What region would you pick for a bottle of your vintage? MADEIRA for sure
What's your favorite varietal ? and why? Riesling, It is multi-purpose in gastronomy, never boring because of the vibrant acidity, can adopt different styles. Can make the simplest and greatest wine.
Any varietal you don’t get along well with ?
No, not in varietal, I don’t like wines which are to 'made', I prefer the elegant, puristic styles of wine which represent the region and grape varieties.
What do you drink when you don't have a glass of wine in your hand? I love beer as well, a nice Belgian Geuze or trappist Orval make me very happy.
Let's say you are alone, at home, what's your favorite casual food and wine pairing for dinner? I love seafood from our North Sea, so give me some grey shrimps to peel by hand and a nice glass of Rheingau or Pfalz riesling Erste Lage
What is your favorite wine region, not to drink, but to visit? Douro, Portugal, extremely beautiful
If you had to save one bottle from your cellar being on fire, which one would it be?
Viña Tondonia Blanco Gran Reserva 1964
Do you/Did you have a role model/a mentor in the wine/sommelier world? If so, who? José Lemahieu my former teacher in sommelier specialization, who made me belief I should try my internship in the big Michelin restaurants.
Best advice you ever received? Never study something just by heart, look for the how and the why, look for the logic.
Imagine you have been cursed !! You are only able to drink 1 red wine and 1 white wine until your life end. What would it be? I’m not such a 'lablel drinker'… but in this case I would, RED: Barca Velha on magnum vintage 2000 I WHITE: Coche Dury Puligny-Montrachet Enseignères 2008
What is your next step/objective in the wine/sommelier world? Keep working a while in the restaurant where I work now and building up my wine importing business.