The SOMM Journal

August / September 2016

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Page 46 of 148

46 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 { wine lists } According to Mark Bright of San Francisco's Saison (just named #27 of The World's Top 50 restaurants), his wine list is "extremely French and California Pinot–focused. It's dedicated to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. " Why? Because that's what he loves. Plus, it brilliantly complements the menu. Jeremy Dennis of Dio Deka, in Los Gatos, focuses on wines that match the restaurant's Hellenic cuisine, even though they may literally be Greek to his audi - ence. Dennis says Greece's wines cor- relate nicely to their Italian counterparts, making them a cinch to translate. "Greek wine quality is really high. It's easy to sell them because they are so good. We include descriptions in the list to make them more accessible." Wine Director Eric Lecours of Donato Enoteca in Redwood City, CA, has two goals: to create an authentic all-Italian expe - rience and to introduce tiny artisan producers you'd never meet otherwise. Take the Sandro Fay 2011 Valtellina Valgella Lombardia of which he purchased all 100 cases. Admittedly, his personal tastes run to Chablis and red Burgundies, so he chooses Nebbiolos with the finesse of a Volnay or Chambertin. The Elio Ottin 2013 Petite Arvine Valle d'Aosta ($52), rings clear like Chablis, but with unmistakably Alpine character. He loves hearing Italian expats say, "This is just like being in Italy." Wine Director John Lancaster has been crafting the wine list at Boulevard in San Francisco for 19 years. He tries to temper his penchant for lesser-known varietals, but can't help himself. "The Bay Area has a very wine savvy clientele. I can sell a little bit of everything, but I can't get too esoteric. Our number-one seller is Pinot, followed by Cabernet and Chardonnay. Blends do well, as there's a high interest level, and rosés are hot." He adds, "I'm always looking for wines with maturity, as they do super well. It's a chal - lenge to find things with age that people can afford to drink." Regarding the BTG list, he says, "I fiddle all the time, but if I change it too much, the waitstaff can't keep up!" Great Taste, Less Filling WHEN SLIMMER WINE LISTS RULE by Laura Ness WHO NEEDS A WHALE OF A WINE LIST? NOT AWARD- winning sommelier and wine buyer Randy Caparoso. "Personally, I prefer focused, cuisine-oriented [as opposed to all-encom - passing, big-name type] wine programs," says The Somm Journal's frequent Contributing Editor. "They enhance guest experiences more." The San Francisco Bay Area wine list builders profiled here would whole-heartedly concur. Sommelier Erika Szot of Chez TJ in nearby Mountain View, CA, relishes the daily challenge of pairing with Chef Jarad Gallagher's often eclectic tasting menus. "My responsibility is to make Chef 's food as beautiful as possible. I choose wines to make what he presents just a little better, more of a sensory experience," says Szot. She appreciates rosés for their flexibility and is adding more Rieslings, saying, "This is my mecca. It's where I go when I'm confused." Cabernet may be steak's traditional mate, but Master Sommelier Patrick Mullane of Forbes Mill Steakhouse, asks, "Why spend megabucks on cult Napa when you can enjoy a truly world-class Brunello?" He's stacked the famed Los Gatos, CA, steakhouse's list with dozens of top-notch Barolos and Barbarescos designed for rib-eye, and more than a hundred single- vineyard Pinots perfect for filet. Erika Szot at Chez TJ in Mountain View, CA. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHEZ TJ Mark Bright at Saison in San Francisco. Jeremy Dennis of Dio Deka in Los Gatos, CA. Eric Lecours of Donato Enoteca in Redwood City, CA. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAISON PHOTO COURTESY OF DONATO ENOTECA PHOTO: DENISE DONEGAN

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