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Brian Elliott: Wisdom of top sommelier with a taste for the future

Moët UK hopeful Petri Pentikainen shares his expertise with Scotland on Sunday wine columnist Brian Elliott

Published: May 10, 2016
Categories: ,

It was brilliant walking holidays on Skye that started Petri and Hanna Pentikainen on a massive career change. One result of that change is that Petri will take his place – with two other Scottish participants – in the final stage of the Moët UK Sommelier of the Year competition on 16 May.

A career in management consultancy and business development in Finland was left behind to indulge his passion for food and drink as assistant restaurant manager and sommelier at the famous Three Chimneys Restaurant. Hanna runs the nearby croft in which they
now live.

Pentikainen’s philosophy as a sommelier is simply expressed.

“Recommending wines from a diverse list that guests will enjoy at a price point they are comfortable with.”

Options have to be available even for food matching’s awkward squad, like asparagus and egg. His advice, incidentally, for asparagus is to “focus on acidity but avoid oak” – suggesting grüner veltliner (bigger mouth-feel than sauvignon) or Hungary’s furmint. English fizz is his interesting idea with egg dishes, or a light red – Beaujolais cru or Jura perhaps.

I pressed him on where he pointed diners on a budget, expecting South Africa or Portugal to feature, but the Pentikainen tip is Sicily – grillo or catarratto for a white and nero d’avola for a red.

As for recent trends, he sees diners continuing to forsake classics in favour of, for example, malbec, while ascending stars such as albariño and picpoul win ever more friends among the whites.

Those trends he expects to continue but to extend to other varieties – fiano and nero di troia from Italy are mentioned, but Pentikainen is also impressed by the wines emerging from the cooler parts of South African and Chile.

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Fascinating stuff and interesting insights which we hope give an extra edge to Petri Pentikainen and to the others flying the Saltire on Monday week.


2014 Ramon Bilbao Single Vineyard Rioja

Spain, 13.5 per cent


Good to see the trend towards single vineyard rioja – often involving younger (and, hence, more fruit-forward) versions.

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This one has lively raspberry acidity with bramble and sour cherry flavours embellished by clove and chocolate touches and a tannic grip that is still quite firm.

£7.99 instead of £9.49 until 30 May at Majestic

2014 Paul Mas Clairette du Languedoc

France, 12.5 per cent


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Clairette is a poor relation grape even in its native Southern France, but here Jean-Claude Mas has created a really attractive fresh and soft white.

It has textured pear fruit, suggestions of sweeter spices on its long finish, and even gentle acidity – the variety’s usual deficiency – to accentuate its citrus components.
£8 at Morrisons

• For regular recommendations on good value wines go to

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