The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 22 of 134

20  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2018 O n a sun-splashed corner of South Lamar Boulevard in Austin, Texas, turquoise walls, peacock taxidermy, and vivid paintings by local artists set an eccentric stage for an equally eclectic international wine list at the recently revamped Aviary Wine & Kitchen. Seated at tables or at the blond butcher-block bar top within view of the open kitchen, guests mingle with sommeliers as Beverage Director Alex Bell and co-owner Marco Fiorilo pour Moroccan red blends, Greek Xinomavro, Spanish Parellada, and other intriguing options you'd be hard- pressed to find elsewhere in the city. "I put myself through college working with wine in fine-dining restaurants, but it wasn't until I spent a year in Rome that the passion took over," Bell says. "Wine came to represent romanti- cism, poeticism, and history—and it's the only working time machine I'll ever have access to." After earning a degree in creative writing, Bell honed his wine chops at Tria in Philadelphia and Max's Wine Dive in Austin before taking the Beverage Director position at Aviary. "At Tria, they approached wine in a comfortable, inviting, engag- ing way. They celebrated the great three fermentables—wine, beer, and cheese—and I've taken that with me," he explains. "At Max's, I helped build their wine-training program, the bulk of which I brought to Aviary. You can't run a space with so many esoteric, unusual wines without a solid founda- tion of education. We've opened up every single bottle of our list of 120- plus [wines] to our staff." Fiorilo says as vendors get excited about new offerings at the restaurant, they "oftentimes bring [the Aviary team] new bottles first." "They're not afraid the wine is going to stagnate here," he adds. "Our servers have the skills to get behind a wine, explain it, and really sell it." While Fiorilo's an outspoken Bordeaux enthusiast who's currently giving his palate a break with colder- climate whites like Grenache Blanc, Bell's heart still belongs to Italy. Neither obsession prevents them, however, from offering "a lot of diversity in the list," Bell says. "We want to push boundaries, excite and ignite our guests, and challenge their palates with things like rustic field blends, unfiltered wines, and spontaneous fermentation." A monthly wine class for guests delves into these topics while also exploring categories like Champagne, rosé, and other varieties with special meaning to the team. "When we opened in 2006, we started with quite a bit of French wine on the menu, and that hasn't changed," Fiorilo says. "After all, can you ever have too much French wine?" For more on Aviary Wine & Kitchen, visit Freelance writer and agave lover Lori Moffatt covered Texas travel topics for more than two decades at Texas Highways, the state's award-winning monthly travel magazine. When she's not writing about cocktails, wine, art, and pop culture from her home in Austin, she's traveling, making art, and practicing Spanish. LONE STAR LIBATIONS AUSTIN'S AVIARY WINE & KITCHEN BOASTS A DIVERSE LIST OF ECLECTIC BOTTLINGS story and photo by Lori Moffatt Beverage Director Alex Bell and co-owner Marco Fiorilo at Aviary Wine & Kitchen in Austin, TX. Spreading Their Wine Wings

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - July 2018