EDITOR'S NOTE—Pride of Place


TQT3.jpg Some people learn to be a sommelier by accident. If you're the only one on the wait staff who has mastered a corkscrew, you might end up serving all the wine—as I did, at 21, the first sommelier hired by new owners at Wheatleigh in Lenox, Massachusetts. But some of us have a talent for sussing out guests and finding the right wine, something that goes far beyond corkscrew control. They are the bright young professionals of today's wine business, and Wolfgang Weber profiles five you'll want to know in this issue—winners of our 7th annual Best New Sommelier Poll.
      As a former member of that trade, I look forward to building our October issue around stories that might intrigue new sommeliers. Such as a feature on the top growers of St-Joseph: Nicole Drummer spent a week in this sprawling region of the Rhône, and reports on three growers who produce the kind of affordable great wine that's in demand right now. Or a top wine buyer and chef who have turned their talents to spirits, matching Bourbon with house-cured bacon and other specialties out of the smoker. Chris Hallowell ventures to Char No. 4 in Brooklyn for a taste.
      In the end, however, it seems to be Burgundy that interests young sommeliers the most. Invariably, that's the answer when we ask about their personal favorite wine. And that's why you'll find our Year's Best Burgundy reviewed here (page 43). You'll also find the third installment of Fiona Morrison's series on Burgundy. She began the series in 2006 with her story on Chambolle-Musigny, which won a James Beard Award. Last year, Morrison visited Vosne-Romanée; this year, she's headed farther north, to Morey-St-Denis. Morey has none of the glamour of Vosne or Chambolle, but it does have a host of grand crus—including a little piece of Bonnes-Mares, a vineyard it shares with Chambolle. With two legendary monopoles—Clos de Tart and Clos des Lambrays—at the top of their form, Morey's wines are gaining attention. You'll find Morrison's story on page 30.
      Recently, to distract Morrison from her research, I invited her family to my house in the Berkshire hills to celebrate a birthday she and I share. We set a table for dinner out by the pond, with a bottle of 1988 Cristal and a 1998 Vieux Château Certan pulled from my cellar in honor of Jacques Thienpont, Fiona's husband, whose family owns the property. Later, we opened a bottle of Léoville Las Cases from our shared birth year, which Fiona was kind enough to bring from France. It was a wine of a certain age, from a vineyard we both hold close to our hearts (sure, Burgundy can be heaven, but Las Cases has pride of place on my list of desert island wines). The cork was still firm, and the color seemed fresh enough in the candlelight. The wine turned out to be impeccable, a pure line of currant flavor with a trail as long as a meteor in the night sky. It was the sort of wine that's still young enough to grant a wish, and beautiful enough that for a moment few wishes would come to mind.