Food and Wine Magazine published by Time Inc. have announced the Sommelier list for 2015. Sadly, the list includes only sommeliers from the United States but does contain some of the best in the country. California is represented by Taylor Parson’s of Los Angeles’ Republique who made it on the list for “creating a new wine list every day”. Vilma Mazaite of LaV in Austin also scores a spot on the list for her passion for introducing customers to “obscure grapes,” as does Molly Wismeier of New Orleans’ Restaurant R’evolution. Food & Wine notes that Wismeier is an “exceptional talent scout” with a 10,000-bottle cellar. Dana Frank of Portland’s Ava Gene’s also garners some recognition for curating a “remarkable collection of wines from natural and organic producers.”
Richard Hanaeur of Chicago’s RPM Steak is also a 2015 winner for raising “the bar for the modern steakhouse wine list,” and Steve Wildy of Philadephila’s Vetri Family of Resturants nabs a spot for his ability to create “brilliant” wine and beer lists. New York City also has a representative on the list: The Nomad’s Thomas Patuszak wins for his respect of both brand new and old wines.
The only name that didn’t make it on the list is Pope Francis who last year received a diploma as Honorary Sommelier.
We were excited to contact a sommelier of our own and got in touch with Sovna Puri who is the Head of Tastings & General Manager – Sales & Marketing of Sula Vineyards. We asked her about the secret to wine and food pairing and she has this insight,“There are no rules for pairings, only guidelines. If you enjoy a wine with a particular dish, feel free to enjoy it and talk about it even if it goes against the set ‘guidelines.’
Every individual’s palate is unique and pairing food & wine is very personal. In fact, once you go beyond the conventional pairings, you discover something extraordinary.”
Well, these sommeliers for 2015 have done something extraordinary. Check out the list below.
Dana Frank, Ava Gene’s, Portland, Oregon
Why She Won: She has amassed a remarkable collection of wines from natural and organic producers all over Italy. In fact, she is so committed to Italy that she won’t even serve the Oregon wines she and her husband make under their Bow & Arrow label.
Molly Wismeier, Restaurant R’evolution, New Orleans
Why She Won: An exceptional talent scout, she stocks her 10,000-bottle cellar with impressive old vintages from lesser-known talents as well as superstars.
Richard Hanauer, Rpm Steak, Chicago
Why He Won: He raised the bar for the modern steakhouse wine list, allowing guests to drink decades-old California Cabs and older-vintage Bordeaux for less than $100 a bottle.
Steve Wildy, Vetri Family Restaurants, Philadelphia
Why He Won: Not only does he create some of the most brilliant Italian lists in the country, but he also oversees exceptional beer lists. Plus, he’s just as excited as guests are when they choose a bottle he thinks they’ll really love.
Taylor Parsons, République, Los Angeles
Why He Won: He creates a new wine list every day, based on the dishes that chef Walter Manzke puts on the menu. The wines are geared precisely to the food.
Thomas Pastuszak, The Nomad, New York City
Why He Won: He has the same amount of respect and enthusiasm for a current-release Riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes (in fact, he’s collaborating on a wine there) as he does for a 40-year-old bottle from a star Burgundy producer.
Vilma Mazaite, LaV, Austin, Texas
Why She Won: Although she’s excited to introduce customers to obscure grapes like Fendant, she’s a master of Burgundy, sourcing wines from all the best crus*.
*Grand cru (French for great growth) is a regional wine classification that designates a vineyard known for its favorable reputation in producing wine.