Who is LeDomduVin (a.k.a. Dominique Noël)?

Who is LeDomduVin (a.k.a. Dominique Noël)? 

LeDomduVin a.k.a. Dominique Noel
Full Portrait with Logo
© LeDomduVin

French-born naturalized American, and benefiting of both nationalities, "LeDomduVin" is my nickname and alias, my real name is Dominique Noël. I'm a certified, well-travelled and seasoned Sommelier | Wine buyer | Wine Consultant | Wine Writer | Wine Blogger, with a few other hats including Wine Quality Control Director (wine inspection, authentication, fake and counterfeits prevention), Wine Market Analyst, and, at times, Brand Ambassador, Wine Judge and Wine Educator.  

I’ve been working directly and indirectly with Wine and Spirits since 1991, and therefore cumulate more than 28 years of management positions in the Wine & Spirits, as well as the Food & Beverage Industry. 

Strong of 11+ years working in high-end restaurants in France, UK and HK, then 9 years in large scale retail and niche boutique wine & spirits stores in the US, followed by 8+ years working for the wine division of a big corporate company in HK, I bring to the table a valuable set of skills that includes (but is not limited to) tasting, buying, selling, promoting, marketing, teaching, training, education, events and writing about wine (and spirits a little bit too) in some of the greatest wine hubs of the world: Bordeaux (1991-1997), Paris (1993 and 1997), London (1997-2002), New York (2002-2011) and currently Hong Kong (2011 to present). 

Bordeaux native and grandson of a local "Vigneron" - Winemaker from the "Côtes de Bourg", a small region to the Northeast of Bordeaux, I rapidly understood how important wine and the world of wine will impact and be part of my life and trigger my career. 

My French years: 1991 to 1997

Earlier in my life, prior to turning 18 years old, I did various small jobs, including doing the harvest, nearly every year, in various properties (since I was 10 years old), and I also occasionally worked ("helped" I should say) as a barman/waiter/DJ in local bars and restaurants in 1990 and 1991. Then, in 1992, right after coming back from doing 10 months in the army as a "Chasseur Alpin" (based in Varce, near Grenoble), I officially began my career working with wine in 1992. 

From 1992 to 1994, I worked as Waiter, Bartender, Chef de Rang and Assistant Sommelier in various restaurants and hotels, in several French towns including Orleans, Bourges, Strasbourg and Paris, prior to going back to Bordeaux in 1994, and settle down, working for 3 years in a "Relais et Châteaux" , where I started as Chef de Rang and moved up to Maitre D | Assistant Sommelier, then Sommelier. 

In 1996, while I was still working in the aforementioned "Relais et Châteaux", I went to the Catering and Hospitality Management School of Talence (Bordeaux) to pass some diplomas and pursue my dream of becoming a certified Sommelier and fully immersed myself into wine. It was hard to be both at  school during the day and at work every nights and weekends. Thus, in January 1997, I decided to leave my daily job to concentrate on school and obtain the Sommelier diploma, more important (in my opinion) to satisfy my ambitions and open the next chapter of my life. 

My London years: 1997 to 2002

In July 1997, a few weeks after the end of the school year and proudly receiving my Certified Sommelier Diploma, I took a leap of faith and moved to London, where my career rapidly took off (which would have been much more difficult in France for various reasons). 

London welcomed me with open arms and more opportunities than I ever imagined. I worked as Sommelier, then Chef Sommelier - Wine Buyer, Consultant..... for a few restaurants, where I met and worked with some of the best Head Sommeliers, Restaurant Managers, as well as restaurant and bar staff I know. 

These people became great mentors and friends and remain till this day influential references in their respective fields. These 5 years spent in the British capital were the best years of my life... from the age of 24 to 29 years old.... my London years.... "du grand n'importe quoi"(as I like to describe them).... nothing seemed impossible...  life was beautiful and we were living it to the fullest.. it was a blast in so many ways... I will give anything to relive these years, and even relive them in a crazier way. 

My New York Years: 2002 to 2011

In 2002, after 5 incredible and unforgettable years in London, I moved to New York, leaving the restaurant scene to work as a Wine Buyer and Store Manager for two of the most prominent fine wine boutique retail stores in the Big Apple. 

I worked for 5 years, first as a Sommelier, Wine Consultant, then Wine Director and Wine Buyer for www.PJWine.com, one of the largest and most competitive and innovative Wine & Spirits retail stores in New York (USA) back then (and surely now too), where the owner and savvy businessman, Peter Yi (and the rest of the team), taught me a great deal about Spanish, Bordeaux, Burgundy and German wines, but also wine retail business and management.   

Followed by 4 years as Sommelier, Store Manager, and Wine Buyer at www.HeightsChateau.com, a small "niche" boutique retail store, renown for its hand-picked wine and spirits selection and its personalized and attentive-to-details service, with the reputation of being one of the most specialized Fine Wine & Spirits Boutique ("Caviste") in Brooklyn Heights (NYC, USA), where owner Matthew La Sorsa (and the rest of the team) taught me everything I know about Italian and French boutique style wines, as well as customer services.    

NB: Check the store's respective website for more details, descriptions and prices, and pay them a visit on your next trip to NYC if you can, they are both worth to have a look at their selection, and their prices are very competitive.

My Hong Kong Years: 2011 to present

In August 2011, after 9 years working in the Wine & Spirits retail business in "the city that never sleeps", motivated by the need of new challenges and exploring the unknown, I flew to the other side of the world and relocated to Hong Kong, where I'm still currently working.

I first worked as Head Sommelier/Wine Buyer/Restaurant manager, for about 6 months. Then for less than 3 months as a Restaurant Manager in another restaurant. Yet, it had been too long since I did not work in restaurant (9 years to be exact). I could not do it no more, the hours (from 9 am till 1 am, lunch and dinner service, every day, 6 days a week), the pressure, standing up and running around for hours, etc....  I loved working in the restaurant and being back into the action, the adrenaline of the service boosting my mind, the food, the wine, the customers, I loved it all... but my whole body shut down... after these few months working like crazy hours, it was shattered and some ongoing physical issues (getting worst with age) made me unable to continue any longer working in restaurants. 

Consequently, after a rather difficult 9 months start in this new town, resulting in an unpredictable turn of events, and having no longer the psychological motivation, nor the physical will and ability to continue, I decided to definitively retire from the restaurant life (for good this time). The following months (after making that decision) were extremely difficult and uncertain times at so many levels, where the question of staying or leaving Hong Kong came recurrently on a daily basis (for weeks). I was struggling.   

For multiple reasons, I had no possibility to go back to Europe or the US. Would it have been a good thing if we could have done it? Go back... maybe, not sure... looking back at it with today's perspective, probably, maybe, as we would been closer to the family and friends and things would surely have been different. But hey, no regret and not point dwelling in the past. I'm a firm believer that things usually happen for a reason.

I had to take care of my little family and pay for rent, food, transportation, bills, the kid's school and everything else... Morally, psychologically and physically down, I literally touched and stayed at the bottom for a while, nearly 7 months passed in these conditions, during which, even if tired and depressed and unable to find a solution, I still had to move on and work to sustain my family. I eventually ended up creating and registering my own Sommelier - Wine consulting company and logically called it "LeDomduVin". 

Under the wine consultant name of "LeDomduVin", I mainly worked as a Brand Ambassador for Burgundy wines that I presented and poured for refined guests in a vast array of places including Art Galleries, Private Member Clubs, Underground Discotheques and even at the "Hainan Super-yachts/Business Jets/Luxury Car and Lifestyle Exhibition" (where I had a mini-booth within the Beneteau-Azimut Yachts pier offering wines to multi-billionaires visiting the boats). 

It was fun for a while, but events only happened sporadically and not on a daily basis, and thus being a consultant and doing events did not bring enough cash at the end of the month. I needed a more stable job and salary. And I needed it fast. For a very short while, I became the wine purchasing manager for two online boutique stores, and I could have stayed, maybe, but my business vision, opinion and palate were too radically different compared to those of the owners of these wine online stores. So, I had to quit and move on again.     

Finally, in July 2012, nearly a year after arriving in Hong Kong, rather unexpectedly and via a Chef, I befriended in a trip to Tianjin (China) two years earlier, I found my current job as Wine Quality Control Director / Market Analyst for the Wine Division of one of Hong Kong major corporate Finacial companies, Goldin Group... 

I have been working there ever since, 8 years already. I work for the Wine Division of the Group, called Goldin Wines, where despite my title, I have many hats and do many different things, but too difficult and too long to explain. 

Strange how things go sometimes, as for the first time in my life, I'm not in charge of choosing, selecting and/or even purchasing the wines for the company, which I had difficulties to accept at first, (normal after occupying Wine Buyer/Seller positions for about 20 years before that). 

However, working at Goldin Wines, I'm still and feel very privileged, as I get to work really closely with the Top 250 wines in the world (75% Bordeaux, 20% Burgundy and 5% of other wines from the rest of the world) on a daily basis, which is great and gives me the opportunity to open and taste (and even serve) some of the most sought-after, rare and most expensive wines in the world.  

In any case, this turn in my career path, and the fact that I'm not directly in a position of Wine Buyer has not diminished my love and interest for wines, more especially for small, independent, unknown producers who craft their wines with patience, passion, attention, and dedication like my grandfather used to do it. 

Moreover, although I do not select or buy the wines for the company, I continue to browse around the shelves of various wine retail stores and websites to keep up with the markets (for my personal consumption), and taste (as much as I can) to keep a sharp palate, as well as read and write about wine to continuously grow and improve my skills and knowledge.

LeDomduVin (a.k.a. Dominique Noel)
with a magnum of Gruaud larose 2000
©LeDomduVin 2020

At the end of the day, I'm just a regular guy born in the vines with a passion for wine, often characterized as a "Sommelier, Épicurien, Baroudeur, Amoureux de la Vie, Agent Perturbateur, Curieux et Creatif", following the "Carpe Diem" way, who taste and buy all sort of wines (and spirits too) from all around the world since 1992 (1991 unofficially). 

Tasting is very subjective, as every palate is different. On this blog, I'm trying to keep an open mind.  My writings, tasting notes and wine descriptions will be frank, explicit and detailed with loads of info. 

Purely and solely personal, my tasting notes, comments and opinions are the results of my taste bud's sensations during the tasting and are not intended to influence you, your taste or your wine buying decision, but just to guide you and provide you with some details and info, that you free to follow (or not 😁). 

As often as I can, I will update my blog with new tasting notes, remarks about my favourite wines and discoveries. Please note that this blog is not only about wine but also about life in general and everything it encompasses.  

2020 marked my 29th year working in direct relation with Wine and Spirits, and my 23rd year as a certified Sommelier / Wine Buyer, tasting more than 10,000 wines a year, only relying on my taste buds, armed solely with my passion for food and wine complemented by a discriminating palate, a weird and often sarcastic sense of humour, very opinionated views, lots of interests and plenty of things to say...

Thank you for reading my blog.  

Santé, cheers and enjoy!

Till next time, take good care of yourself, stay and be safe, and drink responsibly. 

LeDomduVin (a.k.a. Dominique Noël) 

#dominiquenoel #ledomduvin #whoisledomduvin @ledomduvin

LeDomduVin Blog: http://www.ledomduvin.com/

©LeDomduVin 2008-2020


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