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.
Next up, here’s an introduction to Spencer Chaffey, wine director at Mason Pacific, in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood.
While he was studying math and computer science at college in L.A., a friend invited him to help open a wine bar, called the CrepeVine, in downtown Pasadena. A taste of 1996 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands Echezeaux sealed his fate. He’s since worked on every side of the business, mostly in Napa: a harvest internship at Ladera on Howell Mountain, a stint in retail at Back Room Wines, a sommelier gig at Redd in Yountville.
One of my most memorable experiences was tasting a vertical with every single wine Cathy Corison made, eleven years ago, when I moved to Napa. That’s one of my happiest moments with wine.
A good glass
We use all-purpose Zaltos at Mason Pacific, and the Bordeaux Zaltos that look more like a Burgundy glass. A lot people haven’t tasted out of Zaltos, and when they taste these more finesse-driven wines out of these glasses, they realize just how expressive these wines are.
I love beer, especially kölsch—Reissdorf Kölsch! We have it in the restaurant. It’s my dad’s favorite beer, and it’s my chef’s favorite beer as well!
photo of Spencer Chaffey by Alison Christiana Photography.
This article first appeared in W&S October 2016.