Each year we put a call out to wine directors across the country, asking them to nominate the best new talent they’ve spotted working the floor in restaurants. They voted in eight up-and-coming sommeliers who all share a depth of wine knowledge, a warm presence with guests and the respect their colleagues. We’re pleased to introduce our Best New Sommeliers of 2016.
Introducing New York City-based wine director Nicole Hakli, now wine buyer at the revamped Acme. After rising through the ranks at Eleven Madison Park, Hakli was recruited for a sommelier position at the Nomad. She recently started at Acme in New York’s NoHo neighborhood, where she focuses on French and Italian wines.
John Ragan, MS was my first mentor. He is the example of what it means to be a sommelier. Perfection every single day. Seeing what he did made me a better person. But Chris Baggetta was the head sommelier at EMP when I was working there. She was the first female sommelier I encountered, and it made me think, ‘This is possible. I can identify with her.’
Sierra Foothills is exciting to me right now. Clos Saron is making incredible wines. I just purchased these magnums of 1995 riesling; it aged well, and has an Alsatian ripeness. I like to pour it with this Carolina shrimp dish we do, with an egg yolk sauce and celery chips.
My husband cooks Turkish food all the time, with garlic and eggplant and cumin; my favorite dish is roasted eggplant. I can drink rosé all day long with that. Right now I’m pouring Domaine de la Tour du Bon Bandol Rosé.
photo of Nicole Hakli by Mike Rush.
This article first appeared in W&S October 2016.