PHX - who's the top sommelier...
.. in town? In the same veiin, Mary Elaine's used to have a cheese specialist who assisted with selections. - anyone know of any restaurant with similar assistance?? What kind of specialized assistance have restaurants added recently?
i'd have to say david johnson at sol y sombra - he selected the all spanish wine list..he was the wine director at west of western..he can trace his family's history in wine and spirits back to the jacobites in scotland about 3 centuries ago and he's won a james beard award for food writing for a wine program he did on radio.
personally, i think he's the smartest wine guy ive ever met. and darn nice to boot :)
I will heartily second David Johnson. Not only for his wine knowledge, but his all-around encyclopedic knowledge of all adult imbibables. I would say that I want to be him when I grow up, except he doesn't know me from Jebus, and if he ever read this on the internet he might be creeped out.
As far as the question of general specialized assistance, I do head to Mastro's when I'm in the mood for a good cigar. It's a rare occasion for me, but they keep a knowledgable expert on staff to help with selection.
I really like Sean Tevik from Spaghetti Western (Cowboy Ciao, Kaz Bar, Sea Saw, etc)
His list is incredible, and I can attest that he knows it thru and thru.
I am the Wine Steward for Barcelona, and he is a rockstar.
I am a big fan of Howie at Vincent's on Camelback. He's never let me down, and always finds a way to get something special into my glass.
Now, some are behind the scenes. You see their wine list that pairs perfectly and at good price-points. NOCA and Cowboy Ciao come immeditely to mind.
I have to say that I know more, by name and face, in San Francisco, London, Honolulu and Denver, than I do in Phoenix. Still, there is much that goes into the task, than often meets the eye.
Matter of fact, the young man, who was Greg Tresner's understudy at May Elaine's is now at Picasso in Las Vegas. He immediately recognized me, and took wonderful care of my party. This level of service shows that Tresner did a good job of training, though I had a few problems with him and his service.
LOL, not even close. Most of what I know has come from great sommeliers along my long and winding path.
A good sommelier is a wonderful find, whether walking the floor, or behind the scenes.
We almost always go with a "sommelier's pairing," especailly when doing the "chef's tastings." Few have let us down. A good sommelier knows to tailor the selections for the kitchen that day, and will go to great lengths to get the right wines. To you and to me, the menu might look just like it did last week, but the sommelier knows that the chef has made a change - how would we ever know, as the menu reads the same?
A good sommelier also knows the inventory and can often find little specials for the B-T-G client. I've had some very heavy-hitter Burgs, that were offered to me in a very fair B-T-G offering, as some patron returned the bottle, after he/she saw the price.
No, I always try to befriend the sommelier and spend a few moments talking about my meals, plus my anticipated pairings. The vast majority of my experiences have been excellent. The ones that have not, have appeared on CH!