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Harpers' new Top 25 Sommeliers in the UK revealed

Published:  04 July, 2022

As the on-trade bounces back, Harpers is delighted to unveil its new annual list of the best somms in the UK.

The wine and broader drinks offer is such a critical part of the quality dining experience that operators ignore this liquid earner at their peril. Of course, to really ensure the offer is at its best, kept fresh, that customer expectations are met and exceeded, and that returns are also maximised, it can more than pay to have wine specialists on the floor, which is where the sommelier steps up.

Arguably, with customers seeking real value as never before and a new adventurousness apparent too in their drinking habits, the role of the sommelier has never been more critical in delivering against these trends. This is where our Top 25 Sommeliers list comes in, partnered by Fells and Wines of Roussillon, and designed to celebrate the best in the business in the UK. It does so by highlighting those at the forefront of the profession, thus setting the bar high and providing inspirational role models to show how it is done.

The result is a roll call of innovative and dynamic somms, each of whom deserves not just to be recognised, but to be celebrated for their part in making the UK’s dining scene one of the most vibrant in the world. Congratulations from the Harpers team to all who feature here.


Harpers canvassed the trade for nominations, creating a long-list of potential candidates who were then invited to submit information against a series of criteria, including: experience & training; buying & crafting the list; pricing & margins; customer service; initiatives & innovations; supplier relationships; staff leadership & training; and food pairing.

Top 25 Sommeliers 2022

01 Laure Patry

Executive head sommelier, The Social Company

With a CV that folds in The Angel at Hetton, North Yorkshire, tutelage under Ronan Sayburn MS at Gordon Ramsay, then a pathway through Claridge’s to head somm at Jason Atherton’s Maze, followed by executive head sommelier across The Social Company’s now global portfolio of restaurants, Laure Patry has an impeccable background and clearly still draws on that pedigree to shape her professionalism today. Whether it’s the engaging and well-crafted drinks lists, the inspiration and training for staff, or external activities such as judging at major wine competitions, all that Patry does sets the bar high and provides a benchmark for others. As all our judges agreed, a very worthy number one to head up our first-ever Top 25 Sommeliers list.

02 Isa Bal MS

Sommelier, Trivet Restaurant

London’s wine scene would be all the poorer without the passion and dynamism of Trivet sommelier Isa Bal. After completing the Master Sommelier diploma, Bal formed a close business relationship with Trivet co-founder Jonny Lake, both having previously worked at the Fat Duck under Heston Blumenthal. Their philosophy is to encourage exploration by keeping mark-ups as reasonable as possible.

“At the moment the mark-up starts around 40% for some top-end wines and goes up to 60-70% lower down the price points,” says Bal. “We believe that wine is one of the most enjoyable gifts we have.” Spoken like a true professional.

03 Melania Battiston

Head sommelier and wine buyer, Medlar Restaurant

Passing over a career in marketing once the wine bug bit, Italian-born Melania Battiston swapped university for the WSET and Court of Master Sommelier exams, and is now sizing up what it takes to become an MS. Her ideal list must have value at whatever price point, while ticking boxes for both customer and sommelier alike, blending traditional with more adventurous finds, all of which shines through on the moreish list at Medlar. A dynamic star on the UK’s restaurant scene with a similarly dynamic wine offer.

04 Agnieszka Swiecka

Head sommelier, The Five Fields

A finalist in the Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year competition, Agnieszka Swiecka has already established a strong reputation as one of the country’s leading wine professionals. After completing the Court of Master Sommeliers advanced certificate, Swiecka intends to undertake the notoriously rigorous Master Sommelier diploma in 2023. She cut her teeth at Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social (one Michelin Star), before accepting a position as head sommelier for The Five Fields restaurant in London. Swiecka describes her perfect wine list as “a selection where everyone can find something for themselves at different price points”.

05 Vincenzo Arnese

Head sommelier, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

Vincenzo Arnese arrived at Ducasse by way of The Waterside Inn, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Dinner By Heston back in the UK, having supplemented such a glittering journey with much study and training, now holding the WSET diploma and Advanced Sommelier awards, while also being a qualified educator. His list at the Dorchester celebrates the classic regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux, but does so in a dynamic and evolving way with the verticals and food pairings offered, while increasingly folding in exciting indigenous interlopers from elsewhere, such as Greece and Portugal.

06 Eric Zwiebel MS

Executive head sommelier, Summer Lodge Hotel & Red Carnation Group

Executive head sommelier Eric Zwiebel has worked with the Summer Lodge Hotel in Dorchester since 2004. Born in Alsace, Zwiebel began his hospitality career by helping his parents in their restaurant, before relocating to Paris. He subsequently moved to England in 1997, completing the MS programme in 2001. Mentored by the late Gérard Basset OBE, MS, MW, Zwiebel describes food-and-wine matching as “highlighting the emotional links between the two disciplines”.

07 Gareth Ferreira MS

Head sommelier & beverage director, Core by Clare Smyth

Twelve years of sommelier-dom has seen Gareth Ferreira work at top places ranging from The Ritz-Carlton in Florida to Burj Al Arab in Dubai, with a stint at sommelier-run private members’ club 67 Pall Mall thrown in for good measure. At Core, Ferreira has brought his considerable experience and knowledge to bear, placing the customer’s needs and wants at the heart of shaping the drinks offer, which runs to 3,200 bottles in the cellar, of which around 900 are flagged up in a beautifully crafted wine tome, featuring quotes, maps and more.

08 Matteo Furlan

Head sommelier, The Ritz London

Currently employed as head sommelier for the iconic Ritz restaurant, Matteo Furlan presides over a wine list with more than 90 pages of vinous treasures. Born in Venice, Furlan undertook the Italian Sommelier Association diploma before moving to the UK in 2015, joining the Ritz team two years later. Friendly, approachable and highly qualified, Furlan holds the WSET diploma, the ASI diploma (Gold) and the Court of Master Sommeliers certified qualification. In 2019, he won the UKSA award for Best UK Sommelier.

09 Charles Carron Brown

Sommelier & restaurant manager, Aulis London

Classically trained, but with a modern approach that reaches beyond the trad to embrace trends such as biodynamic and natural wines, Charles Carron Brown looks to mirror chef Simon Rogan’s emphasis on the best seasonal ingredients in the wine selection. He also places much stress on the individual stories and exciting winemakers behind the wines, always aiming to enhance the guest’s experience and the food on the table.

10 Zsofia Kiss

Deputy head sommelier, 67 Pall Mall

Zsofia Kiss started her wine journey as an intern waitress in Colorado, which spurred a deep fascination with all things wine. After completing a hospitality degree in Budapest, Kiss passed the WSET level 3; introductory, certified and advanced exams with the CMS; and is now preparing for her Master Sommelier exam. Currently working as a deputy head sommelier for 67 Pall Mall, Kiss presides over an extensive list with a particularly generous selection of Champagne by the glass.

11 Sam Hancock

Head sommelier, The Clove Club

A formative experience working in Manchester’s hybrid wine bar Salut put Sam Hancock on track for his first sommelier job at nearby Mana. There he was plunged in at the deep end, having to train on the job, but being part of the team that delivered its – and Manchester’s – first Michelin star in 50 years. At The Clove Club the list reveals an elegant and balanced approach, totally in keeping with chef-patron Isaac McHale’s subtly superb food.

12 Sara Rossi

Head sommelier & wine buyer, Trinity Restaurant

Sara Rossi has an impressive resume: Cut at 45 Park Lane, Fera at Claridge’s, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and now Trinity Restaurant in Clapham. Rossi has pioneered offering a selection of wines with no mark-up, Chef Cellar Wines. These are wines personally chosen by chef Adam Byatt, including Salon 2007 and Chablis ‘Vaillons’ Dauvissat-Camus 2017. Serving grower Champagne by the glass as ‘house Champagne’ is another of Rossi’s passions – the current choice is Rémi Leroy Brut Nature. “It is a way to support small growers and to offer a different Champagne by the glass every six to seven months to our guests,” she says.

13 Beatrice Bessi

Head sommelier, Chiltern Firehouse

Beatrice Bessi’s wine programme looks to encourage exploration, with lower margins on both iconic and more off-piste wines, also mixing it up with classics sitting cheek-by-jowl with styles such as orange and amphora wines. An innovative list that changes frequently and also speaks to the passion that so clearly goes into its curation.

Bessi has additional plaudits to her name. As an advanced member of the Court of Master Sommeliers, she is also a candidate for the Master Sommelier accolade this year, which will make her the first Italian female in the history of the organisation to hold the title. 

14 Élise Mérigaud

Head sommelier, La Dame de Pic at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square

Élise Mérigaud curates an extensive and diverse wine list at the two Michelin-starred restaurant La Dame de Pic. After attending sommelier school in France, Mérigaud accepted her first role as commis sommelier in Pont de la Tour (D&D London). From the outset, her overriding goal was to move beyond the simple food/wine paradigm, offering her customers a range of non-alcoholic pairings, including teas, kombucha and non-alcoholic beers.

15 Winnie Toh

Head sommelier, The Aubrey at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

Currently prepping for the MS, Winnie Toh started her journey with a business diploma in hospitality in Singapore, before taking a tack into the wine side of life. She describes her list at The Aubrey, a Japanese-style izakaya, as simple and unfussy, being anchored in sake and Champagne, with smaller family and independent producers to the fore, making for a mouth-watering selection.

16 James Shaw

Head sommelier, The Pem, Conrad London St James

Now head sommelier at The Pem, James Shaw began his journey at The Hand & Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, working under Charles Beaini (now of The Corinthia). After completing the WSET Level 3 exam, Shaw moved to London in January 2020, where he found “a warm and diverse wine community of somms, merchants and restaurant guests where we frequently discuss, taste and hunt down wines at our will”. His wine list offers an eclectic mix of iconic houses, independent growers and everything in between.

17 Stuart James Skea

Group sommelier, Fhior Restaurant

It was a pub management trip some 14 years ago, taking in Château Léoville Barton and Angélus, that turned Stuart James Skea’s head towards wine and some of Edinburgh’s finest restaurants. A concise list of around 50 bins, grouped under headers such as Vital & Bright & Juicy and Earthy & Savoury, it nonetheless shines with its emphasis on wines that speak elegantly of a sense of place.

18 Glen Montgomery

Sommelier, The Heron/Eòrna

After studying engineering, Glen Montgomery decided to leap head first into a career in wine, cutting his teeth at The Witchery in Edinburgh. From there, he progressed through some Michelin-starred establishments (Number One in the Balmoral Hotel and Restaurant Andrew Fairlie in Perthshire), before undertaking the WSET diploma. More recently, he’s been presiding over the list at The Heron in Scotland’s beautiful capital. “My favourite recent innovation was to create a ‘secret’ wine list – a handwritten book of a small selection of bottles that were chosen from a personal standpoint,” he says.

19 Jonathan Kleeman

Head sommelier & wine buyer, Restaurant Story

No stranger to high-end and innovative restaurants during his varied career, Jonathan Kleeman puts taste first, believing all else follows, while also only selling wines from producers that inspire and care. Many initiatives then follow, such as pushing premium wine pairings, rotating tiny allocations of interesting wines, plus a significant focus on other categories, such as freshly made cocktails.

20 Michele Fazari

Head sommelier, Ten Trinity Square private club

Overseeing the wine list at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square’s private members’ club, Michele Fazari has completed both the WSET advanced course and the Court of Master Sommeliers’ programme. According to Fazari: “The club has a unique partnership with Château Latour and Artemis Domaines, which is why we feature a vast collection with depth of vintages as well as wines of the different properties.” Indeed, the leather-bound list will very much appeal to traditionalists, with no paucity of luxury labels from France, Italy and the US.

21 Antonio Palmarini

Head sommelier, Maru

From a first sip of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo with his grandfather by way of formal qualifications in London via WSET, Antonio Palmarini landed at Maru where he’s mastered the challenge of pairing a list to a 21-course Japanese menu. The result is a mini-masterpiece in mixing it up to meet the occasion, with a core of elegant white and red Burgundies given equal billing with sake and fine teas, all sourced from the highest-quality sites and producers.

22 Cong Cong Bo

Owner, Amphora Cambridge

The owner of a hybrid bar/retail venue in Cambridge, Cong Cong Bo is in the middle of finishing her WSET diploma, in addition to graduating from Cambridge University with an MA in Medical Sciences. Her first wine venture, Amphora, boasts an astounding 75 wines by the glass, with prices ranging from £5-£45 for a glass of wine, ensuring all budgets are catered for. An example for others to follow.

23 Alexander James Lee Preston

English wine sommelier, Isaac At…

An early stint with Henry Butler at his eponymous Brighton wine shops during a vocational hospitality and catering course found Alexander James Lee Preston hooked on the wine world. Several high-profile restaurants later, he landed at Isaac At…, where the focus on local Sussex produce being crafted into imaginative tasting menus naturally dictated a carefully sourced UK wine, cider, beer, spirit and soft drink offer that he melds to the menu in clever and sometimes eye-opening ways.

24 Anna Frost

Sommelier, Restaurant Hjem

The sommelier at Michelin-starred Hjem restaurant in Northumberland, Anna Frost describes herself as “mostly self-taught, and extremely lucky to have started working with Ed Wilson (Brawn)at the very beginning of my career and being trusted to manage its 500+ bin cellar”. Her excellent list is concise and full of dynamism – Frost works with the finest biodynamic producers from France, Italy (especially Sicily), Spain, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Georgia, Serbia and Switzerland.

25 Alex Pitt

Wine buyer & sommelier, The 10 Cases

Small, sustainably-minded and quality-driven producers are Alex Pitt’s passion, with emphasis also on overlooked varieties and alternatives to the mainstream. What really marks his work at 10 Cases, though, is the structure of the two lists. As the name suggests, at the bistro a fast-rotating selection of 10 whites and 10 reds, plus sparkling and sweet wine, keeps it simple and lean. The Cave à Vin list focuses in on around 300 rarities, of which there may only be a couple of bottles before its gone.

Judging Panel

Stefan Neumann MS, wine consultant (Fells)

Celine Bouteiller, director, Otaria Communications & Media

Eric Aracil, director, Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins du Roussillon

Andrew Catchpole, judging chair, and editor, Harpers Wine & Spirit