During 13 years as sommelier at the world-famous elBulli restaurant in Spain, Ferran Centelles DipWSET travelled the wine world and built his education with the WSET Diploma. Here, he shares how he is helping Ferran Adrià continue elBulli’s legacy, alongside his role as a WSET Certified Educator and writer for JancisRobinson.com.
When elBulli closed as a restaurant, what made you decide to stay with the brand even though it meant moving out of your role as a sommelier?
To be really honest when I first heard Ferran Adrià talking about the new elBullifoundation project I did not understand the magnitude of it. I actually took a leap of faith, at that time I already had 15 years’ experience in restaurants and I thought it was a good moment to try something else.
In fact, working in a restaurant is quite a physical labour, and moving to a more mentally laborious role was really challenging and motivating.
I have been a wine educator since I was very young, and personally I get real pleasure out of teaching. Having worked for many schools and organisations, I really value the structure, depth, international approach and organisation of WSET.
How does the legacy of elBulli live on through the Foundation?
elBullifoundation is the umbrella for various projects, I recommend visiting the website to get a broad idea of its many aspects (the English version is under construction). The legacy will be kept at LABulliografia, a unique and broad space in Barcelona, where today we are organizing and listing all the objects, files and documents generated during elBullirestaurant’s 50 years of existence. LABulliografia is a physical and digital archive that most probably will be open for visitors.
elBullifoundation is also reshaping the elBullirestaurant located in Roses, a village next to the French border, to transform it to elBulli1846, a magnificent exhibition Lab that, once open, will gather a team of creative people who will research and work on innovation efficiency. elBulli1846 will also be an exhibition center.
Aside from your role with the Foundation, you are also a WSET Certified Educator with Barcelona Wine School. What inspired you to go into wine education?
I have been a wine educator since I was very young, and personally I get real pleasure out of teaching. Having worked for many schools and organisations, I really value the structure, depth, international approach and organisation of WSET. It provides a great support and the right materials to make teaching an easier task. Furthermore, I am very close to the Barcelona Wine School, a number one school in wine education that’s director, David Molina DipWSET is a non-stop wine researcher and a very motivating teacher (they have done a superb research paper on minerality which is really worth a read). Moreover I had the opportunity to drive programs in Colombia and Chile thanks to The Wine School Colombia and Chile, both of which are respected wine schools.
As a Spanish wines specialist writer for JancisRobinson.com, what is it about Spanish wines that you find most encaptivating?
The wine scenario in Spain is very encouraging today. There are lots of improvements and captivating projects in almost every single wine region. I am lucky enough to be able to visit most of the regions within Spain. From the recently published reports I am extremely proud of the emergence of Treixadura and Xrel·lo white wines, while Bierzo and Montsant are also doing very well. Spanish wine producers are getting closer to the expression of terroir, working with less interventionist wine making techniques and balancing traditional and innovative wine concepts.
If you could go back to the beginning of your wine career, what advice would you give yourself?
I would advise myself to get closer to science, and probably study for a career in chemistry. I love the scientific approach to wine and as time passes I am less emotional and try to push my objectivity above anything else.
Follow Ferran Centelles DipWSET on Twitter @ferrancentelles or click here.