What do you do at K&L?
I help customers buy wine and take care of the Champagne and Sherry buying. I have been with K&L for 10 years.
What did you do before you started working here?
I worked for another retailer, and before that I worked in the bicycle industry and as a bass player.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to spend time cooking and eating with my wife, Cinnamon—especially French food. I also like to do long bike rides with friends and I may even do a couple of races this year. Listening to music is also a great passion, both live and at home on the record player.
What’s your favorite movie?
Hard question! I think the Japanese movie Tanpopo will be my answer for today. It is hilarious and a perfect mix of escape and learning about great cuisine—namely the noodles of Japan! I wanted to like Mondovino more, but it was too much of a witch hunt even though I think the point, that 100 point scoring is taking the individuality out of wine, is correct.
What was your “epiphany wine?”
That is easy—the 1970 Fonseca Port. My father gave me a bottle that he had bought decades before on my 22nd birthday. He decanted it for me and it was a revelation—power and elegance, fantastic length, the real deal. It changed my life. In less than two months I was working in the wine business. It still comes in stock from time to time to tempt me!
Describe your perfect meal (at a restaurant or prepared at home). What wine(s) would you pair with it?
The perfect meal would be at Les Crayeres in Reims with my wife. We would start off with roasted blue lobster in a cream sauce with truffles. I would pair it with the Bonville Belles Voyes Blanc de Blancs single-vineyard Champagne. We would then have the local pigeon, made in the traditional style: puff pastry with demi-glace. We would pair that with 1988 Phélan-Ségur, St-Estèphe, the kind of claret that cuts rich food like a knife and emphasizes refreshment and complexity rather than crude palate weight. We would finish the meal with thecheese cart. We would pair that with the legendary 1962 Quinta do Noval “Nacional” Port—I have only ever read about this maverick vintage.
How do you think your palate has changed over the years?
It has changed a lot. I value subtlety more, demand refreshment and get more bored with “big” every year. When I first started tasting I was a lot more impressed with powerful wines. Now I like something that evolves over the course of an evening rather than punching me in the mouth.
What do you like to drink?
I like to start with Champagne, have Chablis with the shellfish, red Burgundy with the fowl, Chianti Classico with the pork, Bordeaux with the steak, old Sherry or Port with the cheese and just plain coffee for breakfast.
What advice do you have to offer people just getting into wine?
It is not the money that you spend on a bottle, but the effort that you put forth that makes for great wine experiences. A properly decanted bottle of second label Bordeaux for $25 served in clean glassware with a lovingly prepared New York steak will outshine a classic vintage first growth that has been shaken from the trip to a restaurant, poured directly from the bottle and paired with a spicy fish dish. Wine is for pleasure, and we must have time for the pleasure, trying to make up for time with a larger budget just does not compensate.
If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would you invite? What wine would you serve each of them?
I would invite Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist of all time over and serve him a bottle of the 1969 Rene Collard Champagne—it was made the same year that he won his first Tour de France, collecting the sprint, climbing and team prizes in the process. I would also love to have Mr. Hugh Johnson, the author of the best wine book in the world, the Wine Atlas, over for a bottle of the Sandeman Royal Ambrosante Palo Cortado—an old bottle of Sherry from a sadly extinct solera and pay tribute to his Edgar Allan Poe-like economy of words and inspirational writing. It would also be great to dine with Underground Wine Journal connoisseur extraordinaire John Tilson again. Perhaps I could entice him with some single-vineyard Champagne from Tarlant!