The SOMM Journal

August / September 2016

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Page 103 of 148

{ }  103 Geddes went on to talk about all the challenges and horrors female sommeliers have to face, like being asked to "look sexy" or wearing three-inch high heels, but the one take away Geddes offered to her fellow female colleagues was that "It takes a village. Make sure to support each other, ladies, because we're the only people who know what it's really like and what it really takes in this business for a female somm to succeed." Geddes also showed off her tattoo inspired by Nicolas Joly, the French pioneer of biodynamic practices, noting that Grgich has long implemented a similar approach: growing grapes sustainably and naturally without artificial chemicals, using wild yeast and solar power. The second discussion, led by Bernard Erpicum, Sommelier and Manager of Public House Las Vegas, offered ways to keep good sommeliers on the floor. This is a challenge for restaurants, as many talented sommeliers often move on to other opportuni - ties outside the restaurant. Erpicum's answer was to inspire his colleagues to replenish the pool with new sommeliers by nurtur- ing servers, bussers and other positions in the restaurant in wine education. He also got a bit sentimental. Says Erpicum, "Today it is truly a privilege to be his [Grgich's] guest. For me, this is a culmination of a dream that started back in 1978 with Wolfgang Puck and Mike Grgich . . . At one point, Wolfgang needed some wine. I opened up a bottle of Grgich and gave it to Wolfgang, who poured it into the dish. Mike saw this and his eyes grew very large, asking 'What are you doing with my wine?' Puck replied, 'Mike, if you want me to make great risotto, I need great wine.'" The ever-charming Bernard Erpicum, Sommelier and Manager of Public House Las Vegas. Master Sommelier Lindsey Palmer, Wine Director of Charlie Palmer Steak at Four Seasons Las Vegas. Joseph Phillips, MS, Director of Wine Education at Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada. The last panel, led by Joseph Phillips, MS, Director of Wine Education at Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada, centered around a quest for balance in a wine list. According to Phillips, there are three factors that define balance. The first is tailoring the list to the specific restaurant and its patrons; the second is maintaining an appropriate price point average, followed by the third, which is to edit with the public in mind, to ensure that "those wines that people recognize are peppered into the somm's esoteric favor - ites on the list." Grgich Hills Estate was used as a good example. This productive discourse over lunch played to a crescendo of Grgich Hills Estate wines, including the 2013 Fumé Blanc Dry Sauvignon Blanc, the 2007 Chardonnay, the 2013 Paris Tasting Commemorative Chardonnay, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2011 Yountville Selection Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2009 Violetta Late Harvest dessert wine, a field blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. All were estate-grown and from Napa Valley, and all were enjoyed immensely by a very tough crowd, each of us picking up different nuances in the complexities of the well-made wines. As we offered our own individual assessments, Grgich Hills Estate's Midwest Regional Sales Manager, Sean Barrett, recalled, "I first met Mike in 1982 at a big tasting. As I was debating with a fellow attendee, there was a tap on my shoulder. It was Mike Grgich who said, 'Excuse me, young man,' in his broken accent, 'don't argue with anybody about what they're tasting in the glass, because everybody's tongue is like their fingerprint.' Now, 30 some years later, I'm working for him, and to this day I still think that makes a lot of sense." The first course: Maine peekytoe crab salad with cucumber and black sesame seeds.

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