The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2013

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Page 46 of 148

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH FRED DAME Each month, Master Sommelier Fred Dame, VP Prestige Accounts, American Wine & Spirits, talks to some of California���s most prominent professionals. A Conversation with Paul Coker Head Sommelier, Stonehill Tavern St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA photos by Anne Watson Fred Dame: Paul, as I look at this beautiful room overlooking the Paci���c Ocean, I���m struck by one thought: Does being this close to the sea change the perception of the wines? Paul Coker: Yes, it does. I am particularly struck by the lighter, more elegant white wines. Albari��o from R��as Baixas Paul Coker discusses wine with Fred Dame. is very noticeable for me since I���ve only been here one month. Fred: We���re drinking a lovely Cornas from Jean-Luc Columbo. Does this big, spicy rich Syrah seem different to you? Paul: It���s so intense that I���m not thinking of the ocean, but rather the big iron-rich soils of the appellation. This is a great deinition of Syrah from the Rh��ne Valley. Fred: You have this fantastic glass wine cellar in the middle of the dining room. I see some legendary wines in there. What exactly is in there that we should be drinking? Paul: You won���t believe this, but each hotel outlet has its own inventory in there. We don���t have a bin numbering system yet 42 / the tasting panel / march 2013 so we know what���s in there in total, but have to look for each item for each order. Fred: That must be an adventure. So what are your customer���s drinking at Stonehill Tavern? Paul: Customers here in Southern California want big, massive wines. I would like to embrace some wines from other regions to show them���South Africa, Vancouver. Fred: What���s wrong with the California? Paul: Nothing at all, and I���ll tell you that I am a huge fan of the wines of Paso Robles. My imprint here will come from embracing the wines from the regions we don���t focus on enough. Also I want to ind those gems at lower price points. I work in a restaurant that has the word ���tavern��� in it. We want to be whimsical; we want to be fun. I don���t want it to be stacks and stacks of grand cru. Fred: That���s interesting. You sound very passionate about this. Paul: I read an editorial last month where the author claimed that worst thing you can say about a wine is that it isn���t serious. I actually grew heated reading this. The worst thing I think you can say about a wine is that it���s not delicious. I want wines that I take a sip of and think, wow, I want another sip! I would rather focus on this than elitism. Fred: Do you work the ���oor here in the Tavern? Paul: Every night. We don���t have another sommelier currently although we���re looking to bring someone on very soon. Someone to bounce ideas back and forth. Fred: A year from now we���ll do this again over another great glass or two of wine. What do you think you���ll tell me then? Paul: I nailed it!

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