Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
Having grown up on the family vineyard, I have always been around wine and its manufacturing process. As I got older I started working in the vineyard and my love and passion for wine grew from there.
Tell us about your wine list at Stafford London
Our wine list will always remain heavy with Burgundy and Bordeaux, but this year we have expanded our collection to include Greek, Chinese and Japanese wines.
During your career, have you experienced any wine-related disasters?
Distracted, I once poured wine from one table into glasses on the next. Fortunately, all of the guests involved found it amusing. I promise I was sober.
Name your top three restaurant wine lists
For me, great wine lists are where you walk in, open up the wine list and can find a good variety of excellent quality wines and great vintages, at affordable prices, making them accessible to everyone. They don’t need to offer RDC or Petrus verticals to make the best wine lists. If I had to name three favorites, it would be Cabotte in London (the place to taste a good bottle of Burgundy); Bern’s Steak House in Florida (with thousands of outstanding wines, it might take you a day to decide which one to have); and Eleven Madison Park in New York (amazing food and wine).
Who do you respect the most in the wine world?
There is no one, I would say that it is all those who are passionate about wine who pass on their knowledge to create the next generation or sommeliers – whether they are individuals or training organizations. Brian K Julyan MS and Ronan Sayburn MS are two people who to me have a timeless dedication to wine education.
What is the most interesting wine you have ever come across?
Kooyong ‘Ferrous’ Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, 2005. It was a very exciting Pinot Noir and I had no idea that Mornington Peninusla could achieve a Pinot of this quality.
What are the three most overused tasting notes?
Minerality, minerality and minerality. We all love to use them, but no one knows what they mean exactly, it’s just a feeling.
What’s the cheapest wine on your menu right now?
South Africa offers great variety and great value, and we currently have some excellent South African wines on our list.
What is your final match between food and drink?
Almost everything with a large white or red Burgundy …
Old World or New World?
I appreciate them both because I respect the fact that they offer something different and I appreciate their individualities.
What does your pet hate about serving wine at other restaurants?
When you don’t have enough time to go through the wine list entirely, or when the sommelier is not a sommelier and is not able to have a real discussion on the menu.
Who is your favorite producer at the moment and why?
I have been fortunate enough to visit some amazing wineries and hang out with some of the great wine producers around the world, but I would love to work with Gary Farr Bannockburn Winery near Geelong in Victoria. It would be great to sit down for a one-on-one conversation to understand his approach and passions when creating his wines.
As a master sommelier, what question do customers most often ask you?
Was it difficult to become a Master Sommelier …
Which wine region / country is currently underestimated and why?
The wines of Eastern Europe have not yet been discovered by the consumer, but there are some great nuggets there. There are some good producers who put a lot of effort into wine production, we just need to educate the consumer about them.
It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
Since this is my last meal, can we stretch it together? I would start with a Montrachet followed by a Richebourg. Burgundy is my favorite region.