On the blogby Alfred
May 12 2016

Professional sommeliers and algorithms : the crucial axis of the Alfred platform.

by Guy Doucet

Picture : Nadia Dufour

Professional sommelier and member of ACSP.


When developing a project as innovative as Alfred, the first thing one must validate within the target market, is the presence of either a real need, a problem to solve or both. Realizing that tens of thousands of Quebec fans have built a major reserve of wines and that many of them have twice the number of bottles that they could drink in the coming years, we have a clear and solvable problem; more so, it is clear that, for any recent wine lover, it is complicated to acquire mature wines and that he will probably have to wait up to 15 years before he can enjoy the great wines he bought in the stores. Thus, we face a definable need and this need creates an opportunity. One can easily assume that it is a need similar to what Airbnb was as a rental asset for landlords owning multiple properties.

Let’s consider that current technological advances allow almost anyone to buy a bottle that bears the vintage of the year when a child was born, and to do so at the time of his or her graduation, 23 years later. If we add to this the fact that, at the time of birth, the parents could not have afforded said bottle and keep it for that long, we are clearly presented with a business opportunity which is also a powerful happiness catalyst. After all, wine is clearly a pleasure associated with relationships. If you’re like me, each and every bottle becomes important whenever it is associated with a significant event. I can fondly remember, even after several years, the pleasure I felt sharing a bottle with family or friends!

This ability to connect virtually all the cellars of the world, making these magic bottles available to any amateur, is a human challenge that drives us at Alfred. Our powerful wine cellar manager includes a proprietary algorithm that can identify, in a browsable model, wines that may become available, thus meeting the needs of potential buyers with appropriate products. I have recently been able to demonstrate the effectiveness of our tool by implementing, for a customer, a specific search for wines which corresponded in vintage to the year he founded his company. In less than 24 hours, through listings from our database of more than 100 million of assets, our customer bought six grands crus from 1966. As Celliers intelligents does not own any of those assets while the available wines belonged to members of club de vins Alfred, I was immediately convinced of the astounding opportunities available through our Alfred endeavour!

Our partners-sommeliers

I have always wished to have my personal sommelier advising me expertly in what I needed to buy to balance my cellar, guide me in the choice of wine to drink with my beef stroganoff or to bring order to my bottles while maximizing my investment. What used to be a personalized expertise exclusively reserved to the more affluent of the world is now available to all wine-lovers through the advances of technology. The virtual sharing model allows sommeliers to tend to groups of devoted aficionados : it is now possible to advise them confidentially, as would an investment advisor with clients. A network of professional sommeliers is an integral part of the Alfred model and will help clients located all over Quebec.

I am pleased to introduce to you three Alfred partners-sommeliers who are involved in our project. They all are members of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers and provide services to our customers through the Alfred technology, which thus becomes a productivity tool. Via instant communication functionality, the sommelier can advise clients on wine purchases, delivery, counsel them on overall cellar management and recommend wine pairings as well as help in the purchase of certain available bottles, all this in a highly secure virtual environment.

Sommeliers Nadia Dufour, Bertrand Eichel and Pierre-Luc Cullen are three amongst the dozens of essential allies of our organization. They have acquired a specific training on our Alfred methods, have adhered to our code of ethics and strict confidentiality agreement. Our sommeliers are also covered by an insurance policy that was specifically developed for Alfred in collaboration with Lareau Assurances. I invite you to discover them and get in touch with us to use their services.

Nadia Dufour , Montreal area

Born in a quiet village of the Côte-Nord, Nadia Dufour is a sommelier and a trainer with a passion for wine and gastronomy. Graduating as a sommelier from l’École Hôtelière des Laurentides and the WSET of the ITHQ, she makes a living from her passion and feels blessed to do what she loves most. She teaches sommellerie and works as a consultant in wine-tourism and the development of vineyards and cider-making in Quebec.

She shares her passion and transmits her knowledge at various private events and contributes to a blog dedicated to Quebec vineyards. Inquisitive and dynamic, she never tires from discovering new local and international vineyards. Her favorite saying is: “The more you learn, the more you realize that you know very little.”. This faith motivates her to learn more and more while sharing her knowledge with people who, like her, love this wonderful nectar called wine.

Bertrand Eichel, Montreal area

Of Alsatian origin, Bertrand Eichel started his love affair with wine in the family vineyards. Passionate about food, he started training when he was 14 at the Lycée des métiers de l’hôtellerie et du tourisme Alexandre Dumas in Strasbourg and then specialized as a sommelier. In 2003, he settled in Quebec where he continues to hone his expertise.

Bertrand Eichel has worked as head-sommelier at the private club 357c, established in Old Montreal. Since 2009, he devoted himself to teaching in order to share his rich experience with future Canadian sommeliers. He is also a lecturer and and host of various tastings. He also authored the book 25 vins, 100 recettes. In terms of honours, he won the Carte d’or for Auberge Sauvignon of Mont Tremblant in 2004, and the Meilleur Sommelier du Québec competition in 2009.

Pierre-Luc Cullen, Quebec City area

A trained sommelier, Pierre-Luc Cullen inherited early on his love of good food and the pleasures of life through his epicurean parents. He has developed a great interest for gastronomy and the culinary arts, which eventually led him to become interested in the function of sommelier. Despite his young age, he already has a strong knowledgeable background and is always in search of new things to learn. From the cellar to the glass, the study of wine stimulates him intensely, demonstrating that passion can often outweigh the years.

Guy Doucet

President and founder of Celliers intelligents inc.

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