Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
Honestly I think it was when I first discovered the first Somm documentary film. Before that moment, wine was always something secondary, or something that ‘grown ups’ enjoyed. The idea that wine could be a career wasn’t anywhere near a consideration before I saw that film and realised there was a whole world that I was yet to discover.
Describe your wine list at L’Enclume
Adventurous. We’ve set ourselves a rule that we can only have one wine of each colour per producer. It forces us to be discerning in the best possible way.
Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters?
The first shift that I was left in charge as the senior sommelier, I managed to get a small, 5p coin sized section of the cork stuck in the neck of a bottle of 1988 Haut Brion. To make matters worse, the guest had brought it in themselves.
Name your top three restaurant wine lists
Noble Rot and The Ledbury in London and Eleven Madison Park in New York.
Who do you most respect in the wine world?
Very tough. But I’d say Bobby Stuckey, the MS who runs Frasca Food and Wine in Colorado. I think he’s a great example for somms who want to progress in the food and wine world but still want to work the floor and retain a connection with guests.
What’s the most interesting wine you’ve come across recently?
The Italian Job by Martin Meinert - a South African White Merlot, that’s been a great match with one of our dishes, and a real hit with our guests.
What are the three most overused tasting notes?
Fresh, crisp, and mineral-driven.
What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?
The 2018 Kallstadter Saumagen spätlese trocken from Koehler-Ruprecht. Riesling is still a very undervalued category (especially if it’s dry), but the wines that are being made by this estate are absurdly good.
What is your ultimate food and drink match?
The classicist in me wants to say steak and Malbec, but honestly English sparkling wine and fish and chips. Comfort and decadence all in one.
Old World or New World?
Don’t make me choose! If forced I’d go for the New World, as I think the spirit of exploration and innovation that those nations and regions represent is what wine is all about.
What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
Not being given enough time to browse the list properly. This is obviously subject to the practicalities of the menu, but getting the wine right is crucial. There’s no harm in giving a couple of extra minutes to scout out what’s going on.
Who is your favourite producer right now?
Whilst I need to give a shout out to Camille Thiriet in Burgundy - my favourite at the moment is Maher Harb’s ‘sept Wines’ from Nahlé in Lebanon. Not only are the wines fantastic, but his mission to use native varieties and to preserve the ‘secret gardens’ of old vine sites is a phenomenal story.
What question do you most get asked by customers?
It’s a tie between ‘what’s your favourite wine?’ and ‘where and how did you train to be a sommelier?’
Which wine producing region or country is underrated at the moment?
South Africa. People are starting to pay a bit more attention (especially as so many people from the UK visit there). But I think the quality of the wine coming out of there still far outstrips the cost.
It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
I’ve always wanted to taste the 1959 Billecart-Salmon Cuveé Nicolas-Francois. Any wine deemed Wine of the Century seems like it would be a good one for a last meal, paired with fish and chips, of course.