Profiles of Justine Droit and Lou Ulian, winners of the Château Gassier in Provence Challenge
As winners of the 4th edition of the Château Gassier in Provence Challenge for student sommeliers in 2022, Justine Droit, a student at the Marseille Hospitality School, and Lou Ulian, a student at the Occitania Hotel and Tourism School in Toulouse, competed before a jury of key figures from the world of sommellerie.
For the final, the trials were devised with the help of Florent Martin, voted Best Sommelier in France 2020 and head sommelier at The Peninsula Paris, with the objective of promoting the diversity of Provence’s terroirs and, above all, of supporting young sommeliers in their learning and the development of their skills.
Justine Droit & Lou Ulian, a bright future
We used the awards ceremony for the 4th Challenge as an opportunity to ask them a few questions!
What made you want to become a sommelier?
Justine : « Before becoming a sommelier I worked in wine retail which is very different! It was when I met the Marseille Provence Sommeliers Association, and thanks to Pierre Chatelain at the Grenache restaurant, that I focused my attentions on this profession and I have since met so many people through it. I immediately knew that this would be my career and so I chose to continue my education by enrolling at the Marseille Hospitality School.»
Lou : « I initially wanted to become a journalist which is very far removed from the world of wine! But over the years I worked student jobs in restaurants which gave me this passion for gastronomy and wine. I began to take a strong interest in it. We learn so many new things every day and that’s what I really love about this industry. I’m setting my sights very high for my career !»
What was your favorite trial in the Château Gassier Challenge?
Justine : « My favorite trial was the commercialization trial as this is what we do every day with our customers and our number one priority is to make them happy. I think that can be sensed in our suggestions and choices for food and wine pairings.»
Lou : « Mine was the order taking trial as this is where we call upon everything we have learnt theoretically. We know we need to communicate but when we’re facing a panel of 6 jury members there is of course quite a lot of pressure which contributes to the feeling of adrenaline. This was the trial that I most enjoyed !»
Which trial took you the most out of your comfort zone?
Justine : « For me it was the last trial as we were asked for a thorough commercialization of a wine that was not revealed to us in advance and so we really needed to improvise. This gave us a chance to show the jury who we really are and what are skills are ! »
Lou :« All of the trials that require us to speak in English are always a little complicated! But I’d say the last one where we had to give a sales pitch for the wine. The fact of having the person right in front of us always makes me feel under pressure! It’s not a trial that we’re necessarily very used to at school and so it’s the one the requires the most spontaneity ! »
Suggest a dish to pair with a wine from Château Gassier?
Justine : «I would suggest pairing the cuvée Le Pas du Moine rosé from Château Gassier with one of the dishes we have on the menu at the Origines restaurant by Julien Boscus, where I work. It’s a fine, crispy tart with Corsican Brocciu cheese, peas and a delicious Nduja sauce flavored with chorizo. It’s just incredible, an explosion of flavors !»
Lou : « The cuvée 946 white 2018 is a superb white wine, very intense and rich in aromas. I would pair it with fish in a creamy sauce served with crisp, fresh vegetables. Perfection ! »
Justine will now be perfecting the skills of her future sommellerie career in Paris while Lou will be perfecting hers in Anglet. The team at Château Gassier believes that they have a very bright career ahead of them and wishes them all the best.