Leanne Altmann (Melbourne, AU)
I am:
Beverage Director & WSET Educator, Trader House Restaurants.
What inspired me to become a sommelier:
When I was in my very early 20s I was the recipient of the Daniel Pontifex Scholarship, which took me on a whirlwind journey through the classic regions of France… this immersive experience opened my eyes to the way that food and wine could be integrated into everyday life, the joy it could bring, and that I could make a career of it.
My role model is:
I’ve learned from so many people through my career. Jean-Claude Breton (maitre d’ at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay) to me, epitomises pure hospitality. The tenacity and rapier-sharp tasting skills of Amanda Yallop (Fink Group), at the top of her game at some of Australia’s finest restaurants. Ronan Sayburn’s utter commitment to the betterment of sommelier service, knowledge and professionalism…I could go on.
What I love about my profession:
It’s been heartening to see how restaurant folk, distributors, winemakers and farmers have leaned into the challenges faced in 2020, and the support network that’s emerged from the realisation of how closely we are connected. I hope that we retain and grow the care and consideration for what we make and sell, and how we do so, whenever ‘normal’ re-emerges and as restaurants are reimagined.
My favourite food and beverage match is:
I particularly enjoy the classic pairing of simply roasted rare breed pork and apple with off-dry or medium sweet Riesling, especially from the Mosel. The contrast of sweetness and earth, richness and acidity, weight and lightness: it’s a delight.
What I enjoy most about taking part in ‘Best Sommelier’ competitions
When I’ve entered sommelier competitions it has been for two reasons – first, to challenge myself to see what I am capable of, and second, to learn and grow in my knowledge and skills. Even if you don’t progress further than the application process, the effort of applying is valuable. Competitions and qualifications provide me with motivation and context for further study, and the opportunity to meet, taste with and learn from some of the best in the business.



Photo courtesy of Nikki To.