Uncorked: Rob Maynard

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Rob Maynard co-owner and wine buyer at Hove restaurant Wild Flor

Related tags Rob Maynard Sommelier Uncorked Wine Wild Flor Hove

The co-owner and overseer of the list at Hove's Wild Flor on Sanlucar de Barrameda's Conde De Adalma, knackered 1980 Lafite and pairing soft cheese with maturing Spatlese riesling.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine…
In my early 20s I was really into the cocktail world and at the time my job was to develop a cocktail and bar programme, I have no idea when it clicked that wine was way more interesting and exciting. I’ve always had an immense passion for geography, so combined with working in restaurants from age 13 it all came together quite well.

Tell us about your wine list at Wild Flor
It’s a medium length list that focuses on Europe with a good sprinkling of the USA and South Africa. We do, sometimes, dabble in the ‘New New’ world, but not much in reality. I like to list soulful wines with real character, and always list back vintages at almost all price ranges.  Things are relatively classic, and selections are based on growers and producers meaning we have quite the roster. I put a lot of effort into securing these alongside those eclectic lesser-known choices. This provides a really fun guest experience, they can dive into legendary classics like Roulot, Keller or old school Bordeaux, they can go to the fringes and drink Dalamara or Orgo, or compare Syrah from Keermont, Xavier Gerard and Jo Swan.

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters? 
Touch wood, never my fault, but we have had some zingers at the restaurant. A chap very proudly brought a 1980 Lafite to lunch, it was in terrible condition and completely knackered, but I suppose out of sheer pride he insisted they all drank through it. A near miss at Wild Flor was our first ever wine dinner, which was on the hottest day of the year. We had zero air conditioning as we’d just opened and had no budget to install it. We’d chosen to do an evening of Loire wines all in magnum, but nothing would fit in our fridges (Including a Jeroboam of 1989 Bourgueil), so we ended up having to fashion giant ice buckets from gastro trays to at least get the reds down from ‘mulled’ to drinkable. It was so ridiculously hot in the dining room that I’m surprised everyone made it through.

Name your top three restaurant wine lists 
Andrew Edmunds, Noble Rot Lambs Conduit, A place in Benicassim I don’t know the name of but we drank about seven different vintages of Tondonia white and red for about 20 Euros a bottle.

Who do you most respect in the wine world?
I’m not one to single people out, I think a lot of people work extremely hard. In the past few years, importers (especially small ones) have worked insanely to limit the effects of Brexit and let us all keep doing our jobs in a jovial manner. That’s been extremely tough for them and probably doesn’t get enough praise.

What’s the most interesting wine you’ve ever come across?
I visited Sanlucar de Barrameda (in Andalucia) a few years ago, and we were treated to tasting the soleras of Conde De Adalma from the barrel. In all honesty, the most concentrated, beguiling and spectacular wines on the planet. They’re all well over 100 years old so you’re tasting quite a lot of history. Zero spitting allowed that morning. 1969 DRC Richebourg is super interesting because it was so good that I can see why people pay for such things, though it is an almost unobtainable wine and carries this huge name. I see it, I get it, I can't afford it. But it was really good.

What are the three most overused tasting notes?
I’m the world's guiltiest person when it comes to overusing tasting notes, but when you work on a restaurant floor and need people to actually understand what you’re saying to them without sounding like a wally, you use the words bright, mineral, round and rich a bit too much.

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment 
If we’re talking straight up ‘very good value’, Raul Perez’s Ultreia St Jacques Mencia is a ludicrous amount of wine for less than £40 on a wine list. Superb in more or less every way, friendly yet interesting, what a delight. If we’re talking ‘best value because I bought it and I think it’s good value’, Then Nervi-Conterno Gattinara ‘16 is probably the best snip of Nebbiolo around for, comparatively, a very reasonable price. It takes the trousers off most Barolo and Barbaresco 50% above it in price.

What is your ultimate food and drink match? 
Really fine soft cheese with maturing spatlese riesling. Not too cold, what a combination. You want some honk on the cheese, and look for a Spatlese about 10 years old (not too old, but you want it to be relaxed).

Old World or New World?
Old World.

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
Overpouring wine, or insisting on taking wine off the table and not pouring it. Just put it on the table on a saucer, and ask if someone wants to be topped up. They’re not going to order more wine because you poured the bottle out between four glasses, everyone is just going to get upset.

Who is your favourite producer at the moment and why? 
I have huge regard for Apostolos Thymiopoulos (based in Macedonia), those wines from the smashing good rosé through the various red wines are characterful, extremely high-quality, delicious and exceptional value.

As a co-owner and sommelier, what question do you most get asked by customers?
What do drink, which is great, because that keeps everyone in employment.

Which wine producing region/country is currently underrated at the moment and why?
California, this is counterintuitive because everyones always banging on about how well known Napa valley is, but the wines coming out of almost all regions and climates can be sensational. Truly spirited wines that are packed with actual fun and joy.

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
A really, really big one to drag things out. In reality, I find old champagne incredibly delicious. So I’d take a 1971 Clos De Goisses or something like that and crack on. 

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