The SOMM Journal

August / September 2016

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Page 34 of 148

34 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 { meet the wine director } "PROFESSIONALLY I'M FROM SAN DIEGO," SAYS WILL COSTELLO (although he concedes he was born in Denver). It was in the San Diego suburb of Carlsbad, where he was working as a busboy at La Costa Resort & Spa's Blue Fire Grill, that Costello had his "Aha" moment about wine. His super - visor offered the (LDA) busser a taste of the 2004 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from a cup: "My eyes lit up," he remembers vividly. That initial sip "inspired a lot of other things," says Costello, who quickly moved up the ladder, eventually becoming Maître d' of Addison restaurant at The Grand Del Mar in San Diego, which received a Wine Spectator Grand Award in 2009, an accolade it maintains. His expertise helped earn the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star (formerly Mobil Five-Star) ratings for Addison from 2009 on—San Diego's first and only restaurant to win these awards. And that first taste of Sauvignon Blanc also led Costello eventually to be an educator for Wines of New Zealand, where he has traveled extensively. Now a Master Sommelier, having successfully passed the Master Examination with the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas in May of 2015, Costello has also competed in numerous wine-related competitions, including The Court of Master Sommelier's TOP|Somm, The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs' Young Somm Competition, the Ruinart Champagne Challenge and was named one of Wine & Spirits magazine's Top New Sommeliers 2013. He passed with Distinction the Advanced Certificate of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Costello finished second place in the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs's Best Young Sommelier in the U.S. in 2013 as well as took first in the Ruinart Challenge for Las Vegas. He has also co-hosted New Zealand Winegrowers Master Classes in the Las Vegas, New Orleans and Miami markets. Today, as Wine Director of Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, Costello oversees the massive wine program for one of The Strip's most prestigious hotels. His scope encompasses the Forbes Five Star fine-dining outlet TWIST by Pierre Gagnaire (with its Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence), MOzen Bistro, Mandarin Bar, the hotel's Pool and Café, in-room-dining as well as the banquet, catering and conference services selections. How does he handle the demands of so many outlets? "I customize my list for each venue depending on whether they have a sommelier on staff," says Costello, who explains that TWIST, for example, has three certified somms plus himself on the floor. "We have time to stop and have a conversation with guests and hand-sell wine." In the hotel's other outlets, with no somms on the floor, Costello says, "I focus entirely on name recognition. Forty-seven million people come to Las Vegas every year ; they need wines they can recognize— they should feel comfortable with their selections." Does the accomplished somm perhaps have his sights set on other des - tinations? "Depending on what my future wife has to say about it, I would prefer to stay here forever," confesses Costello. "I'm in love with this market. The Las Vegas market is so driven by brands that you could easily create a program and have it continue on brand recognition, without supervision—I have no intention of doing that! I prefer to mold this city into everything it can be when it comes to wine." Will Costello, MS Wine Director, Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas PHOTO COURTESY OF MANDARIN ORIENTAL HOTEL GROUP by David Gadd "I'm in love with this market. I prefer to mold this city into everything it can be when it comes to wine."

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