Thibaut Panas, Head Sommelier at the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne.

Article
Friday 2 October 2015
Marie Linder

Thibaut Panas was born in 1984 in the historic province of Champagne. He was raised in a modest family that loved to eat and drink good products from the terroir. At 15 he became interested in the hospitality business and very naturally he took the path of training as a sommelier.

When asked about Swiss wines, he tells us that the first Swiss wine he tasted was a Buxus, Sauvignon Blanc by Louis Bovard, this happened in London, a city he had chosen to learn the language while exercising his profession. 

A feminine encounter brought him to Switzerland where he became part of Philippe Rochat’s team at the Hotel de Ville in Crissier. First he was an assistant and but very quickly he became Head Sommelier.

During his job interview in Crissier, he tasted a Marsanne 2006 by Bernard Cave, which remains a strong memory for the young man, he also talks about the Colombe Rouge by Raymond Paccot, that  the "Maestro" Philippe Rochat invited him to discover.

Following the decision of Mr. Rochat to hand over his famous restaurant, Thibaut spent two unbelievable years. Everybody wanted to taste his cuisine once more before he left. The restaurant was full continuously at noon and the evenings. This was an exceptional time when he acquired an unimaginable experience.

After that, he was offered a unique opportunity: his current position at the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne. Thibaut found himself managing everything that is liquid and which contains alcohol in the Palace, taking care of over 75,000 bottles of wine with over 1,100 references, the wine list of Anne Sophie Pic’s restaurant, the management of Miyako Japanese restaurant and other places which are part of the hotel.

He attaches great importance to the wines, which are served by the glass offered in the different lounges, and ensures regular renewal of these with two local white wines including a Chasselas and two Swiss red wines. The specialist is very open and instinctive, always in search of novelties; he enjoys the regular trips to discover exceptional wines.

The sommelier loves his job, he feels very free to make his own decisions and  is very at ease in this historic hotel, acknowledging a good complicity with the owners and a fair buying power to supply the cellar.

Swiss wines and favorites

Swiss wines represent a good 25% of the hotel’s wines list. He likes them for their diversity and also appreciates the proximity and the accessibility of the winegrowers the wineries. Without denying his love for the wines of his native Champagne region, the sommelier confesses a weakness for the white Savagnin grape, also called Païen or Heida in Valais. A grape he finds rich in character because, as he tells us, wines made from this plant can be opulent, powerful and highly structured as well as they can be more nervous and mineral depending on the terroir on which they grow and the touch of the winemaker. Neither does he hide his admiration for the German Swiss Pinot Noir that he would like to taste more often.

Thibaut also contributed to the creation of a red blend combining his expert taste to the knowledge of Alexandre Deletraz, winegrower in Fully. This wine blends the leading varieties of Valais: Diolinoir, Cornalin, Humagne red and Syrah.

He was voted Sommelier of the Year 2014 by Gault & Millau. He was touched by this honor: "it's a nice recognition of my work from my peers," he also mentions his "bosses" who have clearly contributed to this distinction with their trust. 

Besides his activity as a sommelier, Thibaut is very sportive, he runs by the lake several times a week. Satisfied with his results on the semi marathon he will soon run his first marathon in Florence. He gives much importance to good relations and in spite of a very busy schedule, he takes time to have good time with his friends and enjoy life