Aged 24, Takamatsu passed the toughest exam in the wine industry; not bad for a Sydney barista who decided to become a sommelier just three years ago.

Toru Takamatsu is not what you would call your typical sommelier. In fact, it’s difficult to fathom he works in the hospitality industry at all. He’s softly spoken, shy – almost painfully so – and sports a floppy fringe that falls over his youthful face. It’s a look and personality that seems incongruous to the highly enthused alpha types you’d normally expect at the frontline of top-end restaurants.
But to past and present colleagues, he’s not unforgettable. The Australian-born Takamatsu has been pegged as a wunderkind for passing the wine industry’s most notoriously difficult exam, the Master Sommelier Diploma, last year at just 24 years old. (The youngest ever person to pass the exam was then-23-year-old Frenchman Xavier Rousset in 2002.) It’s not just Takamatsu’s relative youth that fascinates his colleagues, but also how a quiet barista from Sydney’s northern suburbs has accelerated so hard, so fast, just three short years into his wine career.