The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2015

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Page 59 of 136

november 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  59 Fred Dame: Matthew Turner, my old friend and student, as I live and breathe, Beverly Hills 90210! How many stops along the trail have we had? Matthew Turner: More than a few. San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami, Half Moon Bay, Napa, Monterey, New Zealand. Seems like yesterday. When I think of Wally's, I immediately go back to Steve Wallace. Christian Navarro and Gary Fishman. Westwood. This new version is absolutely beautiful. It must be the next progression. It really is a great to work in as look at. It's a retail store within a restaurant within a fromagerie within a char- cuterie. You will never leave here hungry or thirsty! You're in the prime location on Cañon Drive. Spago, Mastro's, The Montage, The Palm—you name it. Does the famed shopping surrounding you make a big difference? The foot traffic and walk-in business is terrific. I think the great move was our soft opening. People just com- ing in for a look. And they stayed! They certainly did. I was thinking I would love to go back 30 years and show Steve Wallace a photo from the future. So, what are they drinking when they're here shopping? That's been a very interesting learning curve. Our walk-in traffic is very big into California wines—in fact, domestic wines in general. Our locals tend to be more on the full international side. We have to restock at least twice a day. During the holidays we'll have to have five or six deliveries from our warehouse to keep up. If you look closely, you will see that every inch of space is utilized. So the locals are drinking across the board? Yes, about 50/50 domestic and international. Of course we have a number of sophisticated collectors who specialize in particular regions. And it is a very broad range of tastes. So what's hot right now? Rhône wines are really moving. We are also seeing some very good response to California Syrah. The upcoming vintages of 2012 and 2013 are really generating a lot of interest. Washington? We don't have as much access to them as we would like. When I get them, they sell quickly. Gramercy, Cayuse do really well. So, what's coming? We have the big California vintages of '12, '13, '14 on the way. France has had some tough years recently and California has a great opportunity. I think that Cabernet Sauvignon will continue to grow. Pinot Noir is still growing and we are seeing some really excellent new producers. We're here tasting Quintessa Illumination. It's a big style of wine that you pour by the glass. Is Sauvignon Blanc growing? I think of it more as full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc. It has great flavor and texture. We've done very well with Illumination. Let me put you on the spot. I know that you love Riesling. Is that market fixable? Absolutely! It can be a tough go, but I love the chal- lenge. People always think sweet, but when you have the right wine with the right food pairing, it's spectacular. You have to have a strong knowledge of the styles and regions to sell it. I sat here at the bar last night and had a great cheese/charcuterie plate. I had some great conversation with the staff and the guests. I was surprised at what a warm atmosphere it was. We all had a great time. Not what I think of when I think of Beverly Hills. Exactly. We have a great clientele and they come from all avenues of profession: film, music, talent manage- ment. Everyone seems to get along just fine and enjoy a great glass and taste together. Almost of all our tables are community tables. It's really been successful. I understand that you host a night for the hospitality industry? Yes, we do. It's a midnight affair where we put out food, wines and cocktails. It's a great way to get to know our neighbors. We all work hard and it's great to spend time with your peers. The stars? They're pretty much like everyone else. They want to come in and have a good time. They really love the wine-and-food scene. We do a number of events outside the bricks for the local community. I did a great charity event with Lady Gaga last week. How many wines are actually here? We have 2,500 skus and 38,000 bottles on premise. I really love sitting down with Christian at the end of the week opening a bottle or two and discussing the busi- ness and trends. He's a great mentor and I've learned a tremendous amount about the retail side from him. So what do we need to change in the world of wine to make it better? That's easy for me. Just have fun with it. No right or wrong pairing, no rules—just enjoy every experience.

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