Interview with our Sommelier
1) How did you first get into wine?
Working in restaurants are a terrific venue for learning, especially when you have a strong mentor. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of very talented Oenophiles throughout my career. Once the wine bug bites, you get obsessed. At least, I did…It’s my mission to continue to pass on my passion for wine to the staff.
2) What brought you to Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air?
My colleague and friend Chris Miller from Spago was trying to find a home for me with Wolfgang Puck for a while. When the opportunity to work with both Wolfgang Puck and Hotel Bel-Air came up, I couldn’t turn it down. There’s such an amazing history at this hotel. After telling my previous chef that I was departing to work here, she revealed to me that she also had worked at Hotel Bel-Air in her career.
3) Tell us about Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air’s wine program
The two-year remodel did some amazing things for our wine program. All of the wines that wanted some time to settle in were afforded that opportunity to age a bit while in storage. It’s an unusual luxury in restaurants to age wine. How many programs can afford to put their wines in a two-year hiatus to age and develop some secondary characteristics? Not many. It’s so refreshing to look through a list with some depth that features a variety of different vintages.
4) Are there any undiscovered gems one might overlook on the wine list?
A 2002 Pinot Noir from Champagne-producer Bollinger. The 2003 vintage of Chateau Le Puy Cote de Francs, the notorious 13th wine from the Japanese “Drops of God” comic that vanished from the earth upon publication. A vertical of Bel-Air’s very own Moraga dating back to 1990. Leon Barral’s “Valiniere” from Faugeres. And my favorite boutique producers: Soliste in Sonoma and Liquid Farm in Sta. Rita Hills.
5) Do you have a favorite wine?
I get asked this question a lot. The first wine that stopped me in my tracks was the 1997 Caymus Special Selection. Then, the 1997 Torbreck “Run Rig” Shiraz. The 1997 Harlan Estate followed that. These days, I still have a very special place in my heart for the 1982 Mouton Rothschild. And I’d pretty much drink any Chablis I was offered.