Secret Wine Files

Ian Burrows is too modest to tell me that he is an Advanced Certified Sommelier ( bearer of the Advanced Certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers since 2009) – or that he has worked in various Michelin-starred restaurants. Read more…+
Over the last three years, Grigoriy tells us, there has been a rapid development in the culture of wine in Russia, a country more generally associated with the consumption of vodka. Read more…+
Peter Aaen claims he was tricked into the restaurant business – although doesn't elaborate, mores's the pity! At any rate, the ex-public school teacher is now restaurant manager and sommelier at Restaurant MellemRum in Denmark's second largest city, Aarhus. He works both on the floor recommending wines to guests and behind the scenes, educating his staff about wine and spirits. Read more…+
With one of the most enviable office views in the world, head sommelier of Quay Restaurant in Sydney, Amanda Yallop likens wine to music when it comes to favourite varieties. Read more…+
Idan's workplace is a regional wine hotel and the first spa and wine hotel in Israel. He is passionate about Israeli wines and keen to spread the word about them. "All my wines", he tells me, "are from the Jerusalem area and are telling the story of this place. Read more…+
Lovers of art, food and wine would argue that he has one of the best jobs around. Joseph Burton is sommelier and manager of the Source restaurant at Tasmania's MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), the largest privately-funded museum in the country. Located, moreover, within a winery – the Moorilla on the Berriedale peninsular – it is considered the most exciting art gallery Australia has to offer. Read more…+
Arvid is Wine Director for the Copenhagen Concepts Restaurant Group which owns eight restaurants, all in Denmark bar one in London. Despite his senior position he still works the floor. Read more…+
Japan-based Guy de la Rupelle has fallen in love with Cloudy Bay wines. This is a Frenchman who, until he was invited to a blind tasting of chardonnays, had always believed that the Montrachet Chardonnay was the creme de la creme. ”I shamefully had to admit”, he tells me, “that Cloudy Bay’s Chardonnay was, well, amazing.” Read more…+
It is a great compliment to a wine knife when the first time it is used is reserved for a highly refined wine made by a “legend”. For restaurateur Ignace Lecleir, that wine was a Didier Dagueneau Silex 2007. Read more…+
The trouble with sommelier Justin Leith’s currently most loved wine is that it’s a hell of a mouthful to say! Byron Shire-based Justin – who describes himself as a passionate hospitality professional with an insatiable appetite for good food and wine – accords that status to the 2010 Dominio Do Bibei ‘Lapola’ 70% Godello 20% Albarino 10% Dona Blanca Ribeiro Alta. This Spanish number, he says, “vibrates with snappy tension and nerve, fresh red grapefruit with piercing floral, saline/mineral components that provide ample texture and amazing mouthfeel.” Furthermore, retailing as it does at $58, it “fits the bill”, according to Justin, of being both delicious and affordable. Read more…+
What does a champagne-drinking, ‘wildcard’ sommelier like to drink when not drinking champagne? Current holder of Best Sommelier title in the US Alex LaPratt says that he is really loving Bordeaux Blanc at the moment – especially those blending Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and a touch of oak – delighting in its hints of Creme Soda, grapefruit, lemon “and a ton of gravel minerality. It’s sick for sunshine in the summer”, he waxes alliteratively, “and definitely under-appreciated.” Read more…+
He falls in love with wines very easily. In fact, Chilean-born David Stevens-Castro effervesces with enthusiasm when it comes to a conversation about wine. With a degree as an Agricultural Scientist, his specialisation is wine – he grew up with a family very much involved in the industry – and currently works as a sommelier at Salt Grill Restaurant at the Hilton in Surfers Paradise, Australia. Read more…+
If someone else were paying, Kim Bickley’s choice of red wine would be a Pinot from Burgundy – Rousseau in particular. The self-described “career sommelier and all-round passionate wine person”, lists restaurants, wine bars and vineyards as her loves – tossing in scuba diving at the end. Read more…+
A cheap bottle of Rouge Homme drunk out of beer glasses is Marcus Corcoran’s most potent wine moment. The self-described food and wine lover and current manager/sommelier at Bowral’s Biota restaurant in NSW, Australia, claims that this, shared with his wife over take-away pizza many years ago, is an experience he has never forgotten. Read more…+
When Ben’s trusty Lagiole wine knife broke recently – in the throes of a very busy Friday night – it was his Code38 which saved the day. “A wine knife breaking apart???”, he exclaims. “I have never in my twenty years of service had this type of mishap before. Pliers were required to remove the broken cork-screw and my trusty Code38 went straight into action. God bless those Code38 knives!” Read more…+
The incomparable Neil Perry needs no introduction. This is a man whose best expression is through the medium of cooking – which may explain the austerity of his answers to my Code38 questions – and which surely accounts for his generous provision of a recipe at the end of the interview. Read more…+
US-based sommelier and restaurateur Paul Einbund (named ‘Best Sommelier in the Bay Area 2010′ by San Francisco Weekly) is hard-pressed to say which wine region is his favourite, given his love of variety. He does, however, begin his list with Rheingau, then Chambolle, Vouvray, Cornas, Madeira – before giving up! Read more…+
For Jack Wilkinson, self-described student in the art of consumption, his memorable wine moments occur every time he shares a bottle with people he likes. “Nothing”, he says, “pairs better with wine than good friends and a patio…” Read more…+
Jill Zimorski even has a nickname for her Code38 wine knife. At the suggestion of one of her colleagues, she calls it Gwyneth Paltrow – “for her sleek lines, high end price tag…” The name stuck, she tells me. Read more…+
There’s poetry in this man’s soul. The Sommelier and Beverage Director for Birmingham’s Silver Pig Group (Michigan, USA) recalls a luncheon in a Chicago restaurant when he was the “young, rookie, green, waiter.” It was held by a group of food and wine collectors who started the meal with 1982 Salon Champagne. They “offered me a glass”, Antoine tells me. “It was the first time I remember smelling a wine and closing my eyes because the aroma alone transcended any wine I had experienced… one of those moments of synesthesia where you can hear the smell and taste the sight of the bubbles.” Wow. Read more…+
Alastair is owner of OS Kitchen&Wine Bar in Victoria’s Hampton – but is as self-deprecating as it gradually emerges most Code38 owners are! Describing himself, he will only admit to being “inspired by great food and wine from artisan producers and enjoying bringing this to my customers.” Read more…+
Smoked Irish salmon on home-baked wheaten bread – sheer rustic simplicity – is the meal of choice nominated by Denis Broderick. And this from a man whose experience includes working with millionaires in private service and for the world’s biggest oil company. The latter I have gleaned from research, because Denis is modesty itself, describing himself only as “someone passionate about food and wine”. Read more…+
Sommelier at Chicago’s Prosecco restaurant, Blake tells me that for him wine is a way of life. His ‘epiphany moment’ was when he was sitting with his father and he opened a half bottle of 1996 Ridge Monte Bello. “I knew then”, he says, “how incredible wine was.” Read more…+
“Resident wine optimist” is foremost how Shawn Gomes describes himself – surely the sort of Sommelier, shimmering with enthusiasm and passion and positive feelings, most venues would covet. In this case it’s Brisbane’s Il Centro and Mr & Mrs G Riverbar where Shawn not only somels but is also manager. He still recalls the most exciting wine he opened with his Code38 – possibly because the knife was brand new, ”only freshly pulled from the box”. So Shawn was excited and a touch nervous to uncork a 1982 Borgogno Barolo. ”Trusted it ever since”, he adds. Read more…+
As sommelier at Rajat Parr and Michael Mina’s RN74 in Seattle, USA, Luke defines his function with sweet modesty. “I help create enjoyable food and wine experiences for guests”, he tells me. He is another lover of Riesling, in fact, Luke describes the variety as his benchmark, with his favourite white the Donnhoff’s GG Riesling. “If I’m a castaway on some desert island, with only one wine to drink…”, he offers. Read more…+
Chaad Thomas is the owner of a wine-importing company in Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA). By his own admission he drinks “too broadly, as a matter of practice and preference, to have any favourites” when it comes to nominating a preferred wine variety or region. And fair enough too! He will, however, claim to being “on little tear with two wine types right now, really loving the world of sparkling wines, especially Italian and French, and I’m also head-over-heels for aged, Northern Rhone Valley wines.” Read more…+
Wine director for the Mina Group (SanFran-based restaurant management company), Raj Parr also makes a wine in Santa Barbara called Sandhi. Read more…+
Ben is the Sommelier at the shiny new Stokehouse Restaurant in Brisbane. He tells me that he is loving living in a new city, meeting new people and the challenges of a new restaurant (“it’s hard work, but rewarding”). Read more…+
Tim Parkhouse describes himself as a father, musician, keen cook and surfer by day and a server/sommelier at the Ritz Carlton in Eno,California, by night. This man of many parts recalls that the last wine he opened with his Code38 was a 375 ml. bottle of 2009 Seghesio Zinfandel. “I would love to tell you that it was something crazy but it wasn’t.” So much for that then. On the other hand, one wine which did truly excite him, opened too by “the Code”, was a 1990 Margaux. “It was the first Bordeaux first growth that I got to use the Code on and you never know what you are going to get with 20+ year old corks. That unpredictability and the price of the wine involved definitely got the blood flowing. Needless to say that the Code got the cork out intact, in one shot.” Read more…+
Matthew Jukes must be a modest man, a UK wine-writer with the most avidly followed wine column in his country, who was recently made Honorary Australian of the Year (for promoting Australian wine and for his charity work for the homeless in Adelaide). And yet not a breath of any of this to me! Instead the sentence with which he sums himself up, is that he tastes around 40,000 wines a year and writes up or talks about the ones he adores for as wide an audience as possible. Read more…+
2012 SMH Sommelier of the Year Stuart Knox is owner of, and Sommelier at, Fix St James in Sydney. The last wine he opened with his Code38 was, he tells me, at the tail-end of a very busy lunch, a bottle of Josmeyer Les Perriet Riesling 1997, from Alsace in France. Riesling, it turns out, is the wine he is most loving at the moment, and his current favourite variety. “I’m in the midst of a summer of Riesling”, he tells me. Despite that, his favourite wine region is the Loire Valley in France. Read more…+

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