Born in 1949 in Paris, France, Christian Vanneque was raised in a circus, by a mother who was a debutante ballerina in the corps de ballet of the Strasbourg Opera a few years earlier, to marry and follow Christian’s father who was then a trumpet player and conductor of the only French circus at the time, the Radio Circus. After ten years of circus life and the divorce of his parents, Christian grew up with his father’s grand parents who owned a famous country inn near Nancy, France, L’Hostellerie de la Côte Noiriel, the only 3 Michelin-Fork (not star) in the region at the time, where the school-age Vanneque began to develop an ‘appetite’ for the restaurant and hotel business.
In 1967, at the age of 18, his grand parents thought it was time for Christian to hone his skills outside the family business that he may, some day, take over. That is when an incredible set of circumstances and opportunity arose: an opening as assistant cellar man at 3 Michelin-star La Tour d’Argent restaurant in Paris. A gifted student apparently, since nearly three years later, in 1970, when the eldest head sommelier of France there, 72-year old Marcel Besson, retired, Christian was asked by owner, Claude Terrail, to take Mr. Besson’s place as head sommelier.
At the age of 20, Christian became the youngest head sommelier in France. For ten years, he was responsible for the largest restaurant wine cellar in the world, heading a team of fourteen sommeliers and cellar men. Over the years, Christian was commended with numerous awards and honors and was regularly consulted by politicians, movie stars and business personalities from all over the world to help them in building their own wine cellars.
“I have a particular fond memory of finding old vintages of Bordeaux wines and Ports for the late Charlie Chaplin for his home in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland. He loved Pauillac wines and vintage Ports. His health was already frail at that time (he died in December 1977) and spoke softly, but I will always remember this incredible twinkle in his eyes and his disarming smile”, Vanneque said. La Tour d’Argent was Christian’s classic schooling for the ‘Art of Living’ and an amazing learning platform for his wine knowledge. It was a priceless and humbling experience that would serve Christian for the rest of his career.
In 1977, Christian became a professor and consultant at founder Steven Spurrier’s L’Académie du Vin in Paris and Christian was a judge at the historic May 24, 1976 Paris Wine Tasting, organized by Steven Spurrier and referred as: ‘The Judgment of Paris’ - a blind tasting where nine French judges shocked the industry by choosing unknown California wines over France’s best – which had a lasting and revolutionary impact on the world of wine.
He also participated in the ‘Wine Rematch of the Century’ for the 30th anniversary of the Paris Tasting event in May 24, 2006 which took place simultaneously in London and Napa Valley with two panels of judges.
Since 1977 and over the next thirty five years, Christian Vanneque pursued a career in wine, as a restaurateur and in the hospitality industry, initially in Paris, France, where he co-owned two restaurants, ‘Le Moulin de Village’ in the 8th district and ‘Brasserie Gus’ in the 2nd district. But it was in 1984 that he materialized one of his dreams: to live in the US, where he decided to gain American food & beverage experience before opening his own restaurant and as a result, worked for some of the finest establishments in California: the Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills, L’Orangerie, Jack Nicholson’s private club -Helena’s- in Los Angeles and the Givenchy Resort & Spa in Palm Springs. Consequently, in the mid-90’s he found an opportunity to open a restaurant in New York City’s Upper East Side, ‘La Palette’, that flourished until it was sold in 2000.
In 2001, Christian moved to Bali to join his brother Daniel, then owner of ‘The Living Room’ restaurant since 2000. It was a challenging time for Christian who wanted to take a break from the restaurant business and therefore started to research the market for a new and fresh venture. Armed with excellent writing skills, since he was over the years a regular contributor for several US newspapers and magazines on the topic of wine; he decided to create a ‘visual’ mini Michelin Guide-type covering the best of what Bali has to offer. As a result, in 2002, he published the first edition of his guide called ‘Best Bets’, an annual pocket-size guide to the best hotels, villas and resorts as well as the best restaurants, nightlife spots, spas and world class shopping destinations. That publishing venture gave him the opportunity to meet wonderful and creative people from a diverse cross-section of all works of life in Bali. But, at the end, he realized that it was a lot of hard work for very little gain so, in 2007, after 5 annual Best Bets editions, he decided to close his publishing venture to come back to his real love and passion: the restaurant business. At the end of that year, he found the perfect little spot in Seminyak to revive his passion and Sip Wine Bar opened its doors in April 2008.