Uncorked: Joseph Pelosi

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Joseph Pelosi head sommelier Belvedere restaurant Holland Park

Related tags Joseph Pelosi Belvedere restaurant Wine Uncorked Sommelier

The head sommelier at West London’s Belvedere on Phillipe Bascaules, Tuscan producer Petrolo and not holding on to his last bottle of Sine Qua Non’s Just For The Love Of It.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
I first became involved in the wine industry when I was setting up a small restaurant venture in Glasgow with two partners. As they were primarily involved with the food I took on the role of wine and spirits director. I had previous experience serving and tasting wine in my job as a restaurant manager before I started my own place, so it wasn’t such a great leap to take it further. A passion then quickly developed through various tastings and trips.

Describe your wine list at Belvedere
Italian wines are prominent on the list at Belvedere as they match the cuisine, but recently we have been expanding our Burgundy and Bordeaux selection in response to our guests needs. We also feature some cult offerings from California and Spain to give a little edge and keep things interesting.

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters? 
I once took an order for the last bottle of a very expensive and rare Napa Cab only to find that another server had ordered the same bottle for another table. After a little diplomatic reasoning with both guests it was decided that we split the bottle between them with a considerable discount thrown in. Maybe a disaster averted?

Name your top three restaurant wine lists 
Le Bernardin and The French Laundry in the US and Le Comptoir des Caves Legrand in Paris. 

Who do you most respect in the wine world? 
Phillipe Bascaules was with Château Margaux for 21 years, serving as estate director for 11, when he left for Inglenook in Napa. I met him just after he made the move and took much inspiration from the fact that he left a safe position with a legendary estate to take on a huge challenge in a very competitive market. Courageous, talented and came across as very humble and gracious.

What’s the most interesting wine you’ve come across recently? 
A new white from Finca Sandoval called Aurora which seems to be a work in progress. The current vintage has a different blend of rare local varieties than the first and the next will be different again. It is fascinating to taste the evolution of this new wine as the winemakers seek to forge its personality.

What are the three most overused tasting notes?
Luscious, seductive and funky.

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment? 
From Dominio do Bibei there is a white called Lalume, made mostly from Triexadura, which my GM liked so much she insisted we give it a try by the glass. A hidden gem at a reasonable price point.

What is your ultimate food and drink match? 
My homemade burger and a Quilceda Creek Cabernet.

Old World or New World?
When I was younger, New World, but as I have aged my preferences have changed to Old World.

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants? 
Being looked down upon when you only require a glass.

Who is your favourite producer right now? 
Petrolo (from Tuscany). I recently tried its current offerings from 2020 and 2021 and the quality across the range was incredible - from the creamy Trebbiano to the soft Sangiovese and on through ultimately to the rich Galatrona and very complex Campo Lusso.

As a sommelier, what question do you most get asked by customers?  
How did a guy from Glasgow get into wine?

Which wine producing region or country is underrated at the moment?
Oregon. Not just for the Pinots but some Chardonnays being produced now are outstanding.

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why? 
Sine Qua Non’s Just For The Love Of It. I had six bottles from the initial release and had to sell them a few years later when I needed money for a business venture. I always regretted not keeping one for myself and now - at around £1,700 a bottle - it’s become somewhat elusive.

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