Rachel Macalisang developed an interest in wine while wine tasting on Friday evenings at the Disneyland Resort. She soon became a part-time sommelier there. Michael Jordan, MS, then Global Manager and Wine Educator for Walt Disney Parks, recognized her nascent tasting ability and encouraged her to follow her nose to the Court of Master Sommeliers. Macalisang passed the first two levels of certification in rapid succession. She then went on to work in the Bay Area for a few years, notably at Ame in the St. Regis and The Restaurant at Meadowood, before returning home to LA to take on the position of wine director at Bazaar by José Andrés.
The Appeal of Spain
The wine team is really passionate about Spain. Most guests don’t know much about Spain, and, many times, guests defer to a region that is familiar, like California or Champagne or Bordeaux. But when they leave themselves in the sommelier’s hands, we get some traction. Especially with wines like the Raventos [2010 L’Hereu]: It is really delicious at a low price point [$64 on her list]. Or we’ll suggest trying Ribera del Duero or Priorat if you really like cabernet.
Jamón & Rioja
You know for me, the most amazing thing about Spain or Spanish culture is the jamón. When you are in Spain, you have jamón for breakfast, you can have it for lunch or for dinner too. Incredible. So if I was to come in tonight [to Bazaar], I would order a plate of ham and bread to take me back to Spain. I’d order a bottle of Rioja and be the happiest person on earth. There are so many good Riojas on the list right now. I think the most interesting one is Macan, which is a partnership between Rothschild and Vega Sicilia. There is a modern style to it; it is full-bodied; a really beautiful expression for Rioja.
Obviously tempranillo is one of the top grapes of Spain, but garnacha is on the rise. I think it’s the next grape that is going to get huge recognition in Spain. It’s in Priorat, in Carineña, and Monstant. It’s incredible that people are asking about it; I’m just blown away.