Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
The sommelier world has captivated me since a young age. Especially growing up in a beautiful wine region like Trentino Alto-Adige. It always fascinated me the spirit, passion and joy of the people around wine from planting to harvest, to production and to the table where it is enjoyed. In every single bottle lies an encrypted message in need for translation and delivery.
Describe your wine list at The Stafford London
I believe that a wine list needs to be diverse and intriguing but always following the concept of the restaurant or hotel. We are always on the hunt for upcoming gems that will put our guest outside of their comfort zone. Guests are always willing to discover new appellations and wines. We need to make this possible while maintaining a beautiful selection from classic regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters?
We get the chance to serve celebrities and we tend to forget they are just normal people. Once I was helping out with bar service and a very well-known celebrity passed behind me while I was holding two Espresso Martinis. I lost balance for a second and dropped half of it on his shirt. I turned pale and wanted the earth to eat me for a second. Fortunately he was totally cool and reminded me that ‘shit happens’.
Name your top three restaurant wine lists
This is a difficult one, London is packed with beautiful vibrant places. Lately my favourite restaurants with exciting wine lists Trivet, Humo and Doppo.
Who do you most respect in the wine world?
Stefan Neumann, I admire his dedication in helping London sommeliers with their development on the wine side as well as personal growth. He manages to dedicate a lot of time to this while being involved in multiple projects at the same time.
What’s the most interesting wine you’ve come across recently?
Recently I discovered a beautiful Pinot Noir from Alto-Adige made by Weingut Ignaz Niedrist. A wine with elegance, precision and complexity. Lately Alto-Adige is coming up with beautiful wines.
What are the three most overused tasting notes?
Refined, integrated tannins and beautiful tension.
What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?
Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels, Chardonnay 2020. It’s a beautiful Chardonnay that could compete with some of the great New World whites for under £70.
What is your ultimate food and drink match?
What I enjoy the most even if it sounds strange is pizza and Champagne. It really goes together.
Old World or New World?
Asking a favourite to a sommelier is a tricky question. I would say that there is always the right wine for the right situation. Also, it is becoming difficult to differentiate between the New World and Old World since the styles and expression of wines could be very distinctive in both parts of the world. So I don’t have a preference. I love both.
What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
The wrong glass for the wine. This might be an unpopular opinion but I think that flutes are not the most suitable glassware for sparkling wines.
Who is your favourite producer right now?
Pablo Höcht from Domaine de Crevecoeur, a small producer from the Rhone Valley. The elegance of his wines and the approachable price tag makes them a beautiful fit on our wine lists.
As a head sommelier, what question do you most get asked by customers?
People generally ask me about pairing food and wine. A wine pairing needs to be intriguing. There is nothing worse than having a great menu and a boring pairing. I’m always trying to think outside of the box, let the guest experience something new and different they wouldn’t have thought of, perhaps trying other kinds of beverages like sake or even tea.
Which wine producing region or country is underrated at the moment?
I think that Argentina is still very underrated and recognised only for its Malbec. I’ve been fortunate to visit Argentina twice and I’ve fallen in love with the Andes and their surroundings. They have a lot of undervalued gems and great upcoming projects in the wine industry. Lately there are a lot of new producers that are coming up with other grape varietals such as Nebbiolo, Bonarda and Sangiovese with a much fresher and linear style.
It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
For me it would be a traditional Argentinian asado paired with a 2004 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino, Barolo Riserva DOCG, Italy. My wife is from Argentina and she introduced me to the beautiful tradition of slowly grilling while sharing with friends and family.