The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2013

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Page 72 of 162

PHOTO: JONATHAN CRISTALDI SNAPSHOT Peter Garland, owner of Sirena in West Hollywood, CA, with Wine Director Jeff Morgenthal, atop his Vespa. Re-Cycled Career FORMER BIKE RACER TURNED SOMMELIER, JEFF MORGENTHAL'S BESPOKE WINE LIST AT SIRENA WEST HOLLYWOOD PAYS HOMAGE TO NORTHERN ITALY story and photos by Jonathan Cristaldi S irena calls to the senses. Walking in the West Hollywood, CA, restaurant—with its aqua hues, aquarium glass and tile textures—offers the impression of being underwater. Named after a legendary mermaid, Sirena's culinary theme trends towards Italian seafood. Owner Peter Garland sets his standards high when it comes to ingredients. The veteran restaurateur (he also owns Porta Via in Beverly Hills and his partner, Executive Chef Sandy Gendel, opened Pace in Los Angeles's storied Laurel Canyon in 1999) insists on working with only the best products: food, wine and spirits. "Sandy is like a food négociant," Garland says, pointing to his business partner's acumen at finding the homegrown food items at Farmer's Market through established relationships with growers. Sommelier Jeff Morgenthal, a former international bike racer, penned the wine list—a record of his world travels, his extensive knowledge and, ultimately, a sense of place. The list abounds in labels from Northern Italy, a fitting choice. The emphasis is on indepen- dent, small-scale producers. "Not only does Jeff have a special palate," Garland points out, "but he has a strong understanding of composition. He tells a story through this list, and we are very proud of it." "It was the challenge of a lifetime," comments Morgenthal. "Peter is a true collaborator. He gave me a platform and told me I was only limited by my imagination." Wines such as the complex, mineral-driven Corsa Pinot Grigio Falzarego from the Venezia Giulia region is inspired by Dolomite cycling culture and wines from Northeast Italy's Falzerego Pass—a natural fit since Jeff Morgenthal, who collaborated with the producer to make this particular blend, is an avid cyclist. 72  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2013 TP0913_063-103.indd 72 8/22/13 9:23 PM

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