Uncorked: Phill Morgan

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Phill Morgan sommelier at Soho Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo

Related tags Phill Morgan Sommelier Wine Uncorked Bocca di Lupo

The head of wine at Soho stalwart Bocca di Lupo on exploding magnums of Cristal, Montalcino-based producer Gorelli and how he respects anyone that can 'turn grape juice into a broad smile'.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
A 1982 claret was my first wine light bulb moment, and the first time I saw wine not as a commodity but as a joy. Hard to surpass to be honest, but I keep trying. I fell into hospitality when I was at university in Glasgow, running bars and a club, then moved to London in 2006 to join the restaurant scene. I started  buying wine pretty much straight away, most of the time with an Italian focus. In 2011, I joined Galvin Bistrot Baker Street for a stint to brush up on France and then to Bocca Di Lupo, where I have been on the wine team ever since. 

Describe your wine list at Bocca Di Lupo
We buy wine to show what Italy can do, as there is such a diverse pattern of grapes and regions, similarly to the menu. I think Italy is unique in the range of styles of wine, and price levels. The list isn’t necessarily small, but it’s all in the edit, and editing is fun. 

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters? 
We’ve all had magnums of Cristal explode in the freezer, right? 

Name your top three restaurant wine lists
Andrew Edmunds in Soho for gems and cracking value, 45 Jermyn Street at Fortnums (on nearby Piccadilly) for the edit, and Antica Bottega del Vino in Verona for the sheer joy of choosing from such a huge cellar. 

Who do you most respect in the wine world?
I respect anyone who can turn grape juice into a broad smile. 

What’s the most interesting wine you’ve come across recently? 
Bartolo Mascarello Freisa is most definitely interesting… 

What are the three most overused tasting notes? 
Sapid is on the wane among somms, stone fruit is ubiquitous but not necessarily incorrect, piercing is on the up. 

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?
Best value has to be Barolo Conca 2016 from Ratti. It’s not cheap, and Barolo shouldn’t be. It’s such a happy drinking place, and it widens the smile of everyone who drinks it. Saying that, our house red is a snip, a Nerello Mascalese from Sicily. Tough call. 

What is your ultimate food and drink match? 
A pile of tiny fried shrimp and a glass of old Vergine Marsala. Heaven. 

Old World or New World? 
Definitely old world. I’ve hardly a clue elsewhere. 

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants? 
Keep the wine on the table!

Who is your favourite producer right now? 
Gorelli in Montalcino. Absolutely perfect pristine Rosso Di Montalcino, only on their third vintage. Should be jeroboam only… 

As a sommelier, what question do you most get asked by customers?
I want a white wine… (open question from me, ‘what do you like?’). Something dry. Well, tricky, eh… 

Which wine producing region or country is underrated at the moment?
Umbria hold some real gems, red and white, and excellent value. 

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why? 
That’s too tough. If it’s my last drop, I’d probably have a perfect Guinness.  

An A to Z di Vini Divin​i

Bocca di Lupo chef patron Jacob Kenedy​ and food writer Rachel Roddy have partnered to create a special menu that celebrates the diversity of Italian food and wine. Sharing a joint passion for Italy and its cuisine, the pair became friends a couple of years ago when they met in Rome. Inspired by Roddy’s cookbook An A to Z of Pasta, An A to Z di Vini Divini will explore Italy’s diverse wine landscape, by featuring six grapes with initials spelling out An A to Z. Guests can order the wines by the glass or by the bottle, along with the accompanying dish if they wish or go all out and order the full menu with matched wines. Pairings include Le Tre Roero Arneis DOCG from Malabaila di Canale with bagna càuda; and Bariliott Aglianico del Vulture DOC from Paternoster winery with tumact me tulez (eggless tagliatelle in an anchovy and tomato sauce topped with walnuts and breadcrumbs). The menu runs throughout this month. More details can be found on the restaurant’s website.

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