New York Wine & GrapeNews
A Biography of Pascaline Lepeltier; Best Sommelier in France!
Pascaline Lepeltier, M.S.
Blame the Château d’Yquem 1937 for convincing 2010 StarChefs.com Rising Star Sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier to begin her brilliant career in wine. Detouring from a master’s in philosophy and a career as a university teacher, Lepeltier began her obsession with wine at the two star Michelin-rated L’Auberge Bretonne under celebrated Chef Jacques Thorel. Within a year, Pascaline was named both Best Loire Valley Young Sommelier and Best Brittany Sommelier. While working as Beverage Director at Rouge Tomate in Brussels, she interned at the George V in Paris under the direction of Best European Sommelier and Best World Sommelier runner-up Eric Beaumard to train for the Best French Sommelier competition. She placed as the second-runner-up in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Promoted to the position of Beverage Director for the Rouge Tomate flagship in New York, she moved to Manhattan in 2009. Within months, she was named one of the five best new US sommeliers of 2011 by Wine & Spirits, one of the "New Wine Prophets" by Time Out NY, one of the “40 under 40” beverage influencers by Wine Enthusiast and called the “Natural Wine Evangelist” by Ray Isle in Food & Wine. The NY Times awarded her Rouge Tomate wine list as one of the best in NYC in 2013. Beverage Director of Rouge Tomate Chelsea until August 2017, she overlooked a 2,000+ references list offering one of the biggest selections of natural, organic and biodynamic beverage in NYC and in the world, and for which she received from the World of Fine Wine two awards: “Best Long Wine List in the World 2017” and “Wine List of the Year 2017”.
In March 2018, she joined Arnaud Tronche and David Lillie as an operating partner in Racines NYC, one of the top wine destinations in the country, with acclaimed chef Diego Moya. She overlooks with Mr Tronche a 2500+ wine list focusing on “vins de vignerons”, mostly organic, biodynamic and natural.
In May of 2014, Lepeltier completed the Master Sommelier examination, becoming the 21st woman to achieve the title in the US.
In October 2018, Pascaline was successfully awarded laureate of “Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France – Classe Sommellerie”, the first woman to ever achieve this title. A month after in November, she won the title of “Best French Sommelier”, also the first woman to win this competition in its modern format. This historical doublé in the same year was only achieve twice before, and she joined a selected group of only 8 French sommeliers holding both distinctions. In 2019, following these successes, she was named “Personality of the Year” by the famous French magazine La Revue du Vin de France, the leading wine publication in Europe. She is the first woman to receive also this accolade.
Spending as much time possible in vineyards and working harvests, she created in 2016 with winemaker Nathan Kendall, “chëpìka”, a wine project to rediscover the potential of organically-grown natives grapes and sparkling wines in the Finger Lakes.
She has written for various prominent wine guides and books in France – including The World of Fine Wine, Art of Eating and Wine & Spirits - and was featured in numerous food and wine publications -- NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Wine Spectator, Decanter, Wine & Spirits, Food & Wine, Saveur, The World of Fine Wine, La Revue des Vins de France, etc. She instructs with the Court of Master Sommeliers and at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan, NY. She also teaches with the Wine Scholar Guild and the Wine Education Council. She had lectured in preeminent wine congresses in North America: IPNC in Oregon, TexSom in Texas, RAW Wine Fair in NY, Terroir Symposium in Toronto, etc.
Her first book collaboration with acclaimed author Alice Feiring, The Dirty Guide to Wine, was released in June 2017 by Countryman Press. Since then, she published with photographer Hélène de Fontainieu
a photography book dedicated to the work of Tessa Laroche in Savennières, Domaine aux Moines, A Year in the Heart of the Loire Valley Vineyard (Editions de l’Entre-Coeur.)
Read our interview with Pascaline in our latest edition of WineVine.