Kyle South of San Diego’s Addison on Rare Bottles and Extravagant Pairings - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Kyle South of San Diego’s Addison
on Rare Bottles and Extravagant Pairings

Kyle South joined Addison at 19, long before it earned San Diego’s first and only three-star rating from Michelin. He started as a food runner and now works alongside Director of Service Sean McGinness to curate a wine list to accompany Chef William Bradley’s tasting menu. South didn’t plan to pursue a restaurant career. Instead, he attended flight school through American Airlines. But he couldn’t shake an early experience he had with wine. He remembers a night at the restaurant when the wine director at the time, Rafael Sanchez, served a 1967 Remoissenet Père & Fils Premier Cru Les Charmes from Chambolle-Musigny. “I was blown away for a multitude of reasons,” he said. “I had no idea at the time that wine could last that long. And my mother’s birth year was 1967. It was this ‘aha’ connection. This is as old as my mother. That’s incredible.” South chose a future in wine over aviation, returning to Addison to work as a cellar sommelier, eventually becoming lead sommelier overseeing a list that runs close to 110 pages. Here is South in his own words, talking wine at Addison, where Champagne has been a top seller this year. —Alissa Bica

Kyle South

Our program has a big focus on Europe, specifically France—Burgundy is the region that we’re really known for. If you want to explore village, Premier Cru and Grand Cru expressions of Burgundy, we have 10 pages of options. I love leaning towards more playful expressions like William Fèvre Saint-Bris—Sauvignon blanc isn’t a variety that people usually associate with Burgundy. I poured this for a guest, and he said, “No, excuse me, young man. Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t come from Burgundy.” I got the opportunity to talk to him a little bit more and tell him this is not going to be the New Zealand or Bordeaux expression of sauvignon blanc. It’s more herbaceous.

We pair Schloss Gobelsburg Cuvée 3 Years with our sashimi which has a lot of fresh, vibrant characteristics from gooseberry and ponzu. The Cuvee Three Years is a blend of three vintages and two varietals; it’s grüner veltliner from 2017, 2018 and 2019, and then they blend in 20 percent riesling coming from Gaisberg. It tastes vibrant—it’s the riesling that’s really bringing in that acidity. It’s more unexpected to see grüner veltliner and riesling blended—it’s a really playful way of showcasing a style that, maybe, people don’t see very often.

I also like pouring older California vintages; I pour the 1979 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley by-the-glass and in our wine pairing. I love telling guests that 1979 was only five years after the Judgement of Paris and Napa Valley was not being explored to the depths that it was in the mid ’90s. It’s Napa before it was really Napa that we know today.

I wish I could tell you we were branching out into different small islands off the coast of Italy, but we stay pretty traditional. One region I’d say we’re adding more of is South Africa, like the Sadie Family wines.

When we became a Michelin restaurant, we decided we wanted to have the best Champagne cart around. We’ve poured examples from 1990 Krug to 2002 Salon, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne and Cristal. Right now, we have six different champagnes by the glass. We find that guests are happy to splurge on Champagne when it’s excessively rare. Krug is definitely the number one Champagne we move. After that, Cristal and then grower-producer examples. The grower-producers are being purchased by a more youthful generation who are conscious about the environment and the people who are tending to the vines.

There’s a lot of people that will join us for dinner that love very iconic classic producers, like Domaine Laflaive, Comte Georges de Vogüé and Domaine La Romanee Conti. These are big, iconic producers that are fun to name, but people might say, “OK, Kyle, sure. But what actually moves?”

As an example, there’s Henri Jayer, godfather of Burgundy. When you compare him to Domaine de La Romanee Conti, everyone knows DRC and their expressions, but Jayer—he doesn’t make wine anymore; he passed away. We searched for about five months to find a bottle of Henri Jayer. We get it into our cellar last week. It’s the 1988 Échezeaux. It was only on the list for four days. And it was a $22,000 bottle.

We have three different pairing tiers. Traditional is a broad entry-level into villages and styles. We have a Luxury pairing that highlights examples like a first growth or Chateau d’Yquem. You’ll see Yquem multiple times with sauvignon blanc and semillon in the still form and the dessert wine that they’re known for.

And from there, we have the Legendary Wine Pairings that are curated for the clientele. We cater toward whatever people want to see—if it’s their 1985 birth year, we can serve the 1985 Leroy Mazis-Chambertin. It’s exciting to say this night is all about you. Being able to curate those experiences is honestly what I find myself and a lot of the sommeliers at the restaurant, leaning in towards. It’s something that we really, really love.

Based in Los Angeles, California, Alissa Bica is the Associate Editor and Spirits Critic at Wine & Spirits. She is also a sommelier at 71 Above and co-runs the home wine tasting company, Côte Brune and Blonde. In any rare moments of free time, she writes about obscure grape varieties in the blog Off the Beaten Wine Path.

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