The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2014

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16  /  the tasting panel  / september 2014 Brief Encounters Whether THE TASTING PANEL goes to the brand execs or the brands call us, there is an abundance of news to report, from the latest releases to behind-the-scenes experiences with some of the world's most influential importers, winemakers, distillers . . . well, you name it. We may not have enough pages in each issue to devote as much attention as we would like to each person whose path we cross, but please note that if it's in the publication, we deem it noteworthy —Meridith May, Publisher & Executive Editor THE MESSAGE 16  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2014 "T here's a stigma that, if you're not ordering the right wine, you're wrong," says Justin Brody, Wine Director and Sommelier for three of the Central Coast's notable restaurants: Robin's in Cambria and Luna Red and Novo, both in downtown San Luis Obispo. "I got into wine to do the opposite of that," he tells THE TASTING PANEL. Already certified, Brody is about to tackle his Advanced Sommelier credential. Growing up in Cambria and having worked in res- taurants since age 13, you might think Brody would be jaded. "I love the industry," he says with genuine enthu- siasm. "My job is about getting the right wine in your hands at a fair price." Novo carries about 300 labels, Luna offers 200 and Robin's provides about 100. His lists are comprised of 50 percent local wines from Monterey to Santa Barbara, and the rest divided between California and imports, though the draw is undeniably on Central Coast wines. "We have customers from Los Angeles and San Francisco who routinely stop in because the wines we carry are much more affordable then what they can find at home." With five major wine list changes annually at Novo and Luna Red, and with more guests purchasing bottles over wines by the glass, Brody sees exponential growth ahead. "The wines of the Central Coast have always been good," Brody confesses, "but the bar has been raised, our credibility has grown." —Michael Cervin Meet Justin Brody divided between California Justin Brody, Wine Director and Sommelier for Luna Red, Novo Restaurant and Robin's Restaurant on California's Central Coast. Beyond Saké T o all those who only think saké when they think of the Japanese spirits industry, the men of Nobu's Las Vegas locations—Dave Ponte, Bar Manager of Nobu Caesars, and Josh Monsivais, Bar Manager of Nobu Hard Rock—want to expand your horizons. At their two locales in Sin City, Ponte and Monsivais wish to introduce guests to craft spirits and artisanal products, focus- ing on authentic Japanese exports. Ponte explained, "We want to edu- cate both our staff and consumer, as well as build a relationship with these customers to understand their taste preferences and apply it to what we do." Both properties are doing just that. Nobu Caesars encour- ages guests to try out Japanese whiskies with three- and five-course flights that pair perfectly with the cuisine of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, co-owner of all Nobu Restaurants across the globe. Ponte looks to the new micro-breweries in Japan, so his guests can enjoy styles outside of the traditional Japanese lagers, including Japanese stouts and red ales. Most recently, to continue to learn and innovate their cocktail programs, Nobu Hard Rock hosted THE TASTING PANEL's Speed Tasting of Spirits with Sophistication in July. For the full story behind that tasting, check out the write-up in the October issue. —Emily Coleman Dave Ponte, Bar Manager of Nobu Caesars Palace, and Josh Monsivais, Bar Manager of Nobu Hard Rock, at THE TASTING PANEL's Speed Tasting of Spirits with Sophistication, hosted by Nobu Hard Rock in Las Vegas, NV. PHOTO: MICHAEL CERVIN PHOTO: MONA SHIELD PAYNE

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