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Claire Paparazzo, Blue Hill D owntown, Claire Paparazzo, Wine Director for Blue Hill restaurant, works with a decidedly more down on the farm esthetic. Paparazzo follows owner Dan Barber’s trademarked “know thy farmer” philosophy and has focused her wine list on small producers, many of whom she knows. Like Chang (the two women are friends), Paparazzo, 36, came to her post at a young age (31). She, too, worked her way through restaurants and after giving up her acting career, turned to wine. Her palate and pas- sion took her through American Sommelier Association certification and on to Vong and Cesca. But it was at Barber’s acclaimed farm- to-table restaurant that Paparazzo got her groove as well as a new respect for what’s in the bottle. “I approach wine in a much different way,” she said. “Someone made it, someone grew it; it’s a miracle how it gets here.” Paparazzo’s mindset reflects the mindful way in which consumers are eating now, which is increasingly shifting from the plate to the glass. “There’s definitely a food and wine culture that’s evolved and taken off. When I first came here, there was wine and there was food—not a big connection between the two,” she says. Now she sees diners who ask the same questions about their wine that they do about the food. But the wines, she says, are servant to the food. So, though she tried to procure local wines, if they don’t “honor the food,” you won’t find them on her list. “Our food is so delicate, I’d never want to step all over its toes,” she says. “I like restraint—not super- extracted wines—so I look for more under- the-radar elegance.” Her list favors natural and biodynamic wines and is organized according to taste profile—rustic, spicy, floral, round, elegant. She, too, inherited a classic list and evolved it over a year before she felt it truly reflected the food dynamic at the restaurant. Blue Hill was the restaurant President and Mrs. Obama chose for their Manhattan date night last year, but Paparazzo couldn’t comment on what they or any of the other numerous celebrities who dine there ordered. “The only thing that’s important is that we keep the integrity of what we do and not let [celebrity] cloud our vision.” I like restraint—not superextracted wines— so I look for more under- the-radar elegance.” december 2010 / the tasting panel / 101

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