WHILE the rest of South Africa baked banana bread, two well-known sommeliers – Spencer Fondaumiere and Tinashe Nyamdoka – looked past the physical isolation in lockdown and used the time to create an innovative digital platform. Somm On Call is a fully coded reality that leverages the pair’s significant shared experience as wine aficionados and trained sommeliers.
“The new site brings the art of being a sommelier into the future: a combination of marketplace and advice portal for South African’s that are curious about less mainstream wines,” says Nyamdoka. “We’re taking the sommelier experience and expanding it beyond the walls of conventional restaurants, straight to consumers’ mobile phones.”
Foundaumiere says the wine Somm On Call offers is a curated selection that is limited and small quantity. “We’ve both tapped into our ‘little black books’, driven to the individual farms to meet with the winemakers and chosen the really special stuff.”
Wine lovers are encouraged to sign up to Somm On Call to receive fortnightly offers recommended by the somms. In addition, the pair are available to answer any wine-related questions – from the cerebral, such as understanding tannin in Cab, to something as light as a recommendation of a good swimming pool wine to enjoy this summer.
“Somm On Call has come about as a result of the need to elevate the advice and knowledge that we can offer and really awesome products beyond just the restaurant floor, and into a digital space,” says Fondaumiere. “Our aim is to connect curious consumers with interesting wines that stretch far beyond what is more widely available.”
Somm On Call works closely with Attie Louw and Opstal Estate in Rawsonville. “Attie has been very supportive of the concept and immediately saw the possibilities of a virtual sommelier offering,” says Nyamdoka.
“The benefits of having a sommelier on call 24/7 are endless,” says Nyamdoka. “If you need help on what to pair with the wines you have in your collection, how you should serve your wines, detail on the cultivar you might be sampling or about the region – these are all things we can help with.” He jokes they’re the perfect accompaniment to a dinner occasion where you need to impress friends or family.
The founding pair boast an impressive list of accolades with Fondaumiere ranking among 500 ASI diploma qualified sommeliers and Nyamdoka holding a ream of accreditations from the Cape Wine Academy, UCT GSB and the European Court of Master Sommeliers, to name a few. Fondaumiere and Nyamdoka met during their time working for equally prestigious restaurants at Cape Town’s Old Biscuit Mill, namely The Test Kitchen and Burrata. They are both regular independent wine judges and both hold judging certificates from the Michael Fridjhon Academy.