Marc Farrell is sommelier at Épernay, voted Manchester’s best Best Wine/Champagne Bar at the Eat Drink Sleep Awards earlier this month.
How long have you been a trained sommelier?
Where did you train?
I’m self-taught predominantly and WSET certified (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) which involved a 12 week course and an exam at the end.
Why did you want to become a sommelier?
After years of working in bars I began to get a feel for wines and understand the differences between them. After I began to get a grasp on the different flavours I decided to start reading books to learn more and then I began enrolling on different courses, such as the WSET.
Where has your training taken you?
So far I have travelled to France, Italy, Spain and California to visit lots of different vineyards and champagne houses.
Which was your favourite country and why?
In California there was a really laid back atmosphere in all the vineyards I visited. You could get a true feel for their passion and determination to produce excellent wine. They came across as having an honest approach to their wine-making. They are very accessible and understandable. Not to mention I can understand the language!
Where do you want to go next?
South Africa. This is a country which produces excellent wines, but which I feel is a misunderstood place. I would like to be able to explore the wine region and highlight, through the use of Épernay’s reputable platform, the beauty of South Africa. Also, the scenery would be incredible.
Where did you work before Épernay in Manchester?
Mainly in gastro pubs, developing wine lists which have gone on to win many awards.
Why do you think Épernay Manchester won the Best Wine & Champagne Bar in Manchester award?
I really think this is down to our laid back, relaxed approach to wine. I make sure all of my staff are completely trained. I also ensure they deliver their knowledge without being pretentious or snobby. Our champagne list in particular is so varied (48 bottles and 16 by the glass) that we offer something for everybody and I think me and the team pride ourselves on that.
What is your best-selling champagne?
That would definitely be our house, Champagne Palmer. For only £6.50 a glass it is unbeatable. It is a gold medal winner with an incredibly small world-wide production, with only ten thousand bottles produced a year. So far, in five months we have sold well over one thousand bottles. Currently, we are the biggest outlet for Champagne Palmer, worldwide. The people of Manchester just can’t get enough of it!
And your best-selling wine?
Without a shadow of a doubt our Sauvignon Blanc, Greywacke. This wine comes all the way from New Zealand and is considered to be one of the best Sauvignon Blanc’s in the world. We sell it for £7.50 a glass and £30 a bottle. This is our most expensive on the menu and we still get through every bottle we order, weekly.
What is your favourite wine?
I tell everybody I meet this: it depends on three things 1) The time of day 2) Who I am with and 3) What circumstance I am in.
In that case, what would be your favourite wine right now with me?
I knew that was coming! That would be a nice, crisp Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy. Either Franz Haas Pinot Grigio or Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio.
Finally, how do you intend to hold on to your new title?
In the next few weeks we will be finalising our Spring menu. This is going to have a larger wine list with more bottles also available by the glass. We want to be known as the place to go for wine and champagne. No two people will ever have to compromise on a wine or champagne because there will be one of each out there for everybody. We want to make everybody who walks through that door more than happy. To make certain that happens we will maintain our extremely high quality wines at affordable prices.