Lulu McAllister of SF’s NOPA on zinfandel, magnums and mead

Posted on Mar 24, 2014 by Luke Sykora in Restaurant Poll

Lulu McAllister took over NOPA’s wine program a year ago, replacing longtime sommelier Chris Deegan. She’s kept some of his creations—like focused, shifting features highlighting a particular style or winery—and added some of her own, like Magnum Mondays. Luke Sykora asked her about the wines that do well at this buzzing restaurant, often a late-night stomping ground for sommeliers.

Are there any patterns to what folks in the San Francisco wine trade drink at the end of the night?

I feel like I can’t keep enough cabernet franc around anymore, especially Clos Rougeard—I can hardly keep it stocked. Jura is really popular with the late-night community. Ganevat, Puffeney—whatever I can keep on there. That says something about the . . . Continue reading →


Bobby Stuckey, MS, of Boulder’s Frasca, on Friuli and other stars from Italy

Posted on Mar 16, 2014 by Luke Sykora in Restaurant Poll

Bobby Stuckey opened Frasca Food and Wine ten years ago, around the time that he earned his Master Sommelier diploma, after a career spent in dining rooms like The Little Nell in Aspen and Yountville’s The French Laundry. Luke Sykora checked in with him about what guest are drinking at Frasca ten years in.

Frasca is based around the food and wine of Friuli, a region that’s perhaps not as well-know as some others in Italy. Has there been a learning curve for your guests? Are you now you able to turn people onto wines that probably wouldn’t have flown earlier on?

We have an employee who works for us, Carlin Carr, who came from San Francisco. One thing she said was: “You . . . Continue reading →


Ticket to Beaune: La Paulée Launches Travel Scholarships

Posted on Mar 11, 2014 by Luke Sykora in

Daniel Johnnes pours at La Paulée
Daniel Johnnes pours at La Paulée

“There aren’t a lot of somms who have the opportunity to experience Burgundy the way I did,” observes Daniel Johnnes, whose annual Burgundy fête, La Paulée, comes to San Francisco this week.

He first visited Burgundy in 1983 with Jerry Jacobson when they were working together at the Manhattan wine shop Acker Merrall & Condit. (Johnnes describes Jacobsen as a “Burgundy fanatic” and one of the first advocates in the US for the region’s artisanal growers.) At the time, there wasn’t a great demand for the wines, and it wasn’t uncommon for the top producers to simply throw open their cellar doors and begin uncorking 20- or 30-year-old bottles.

“Today, Burgundy is a little threatened because of the . . . Continue reading →


Kamal Kouiri of NYC’s Molyvos on the Ascent of Greek Wine

Posted on Mar 4, 2014 by Stephanie Johnson in Restaurant Poll

Kamal Kouiri directs the wine program at Molyvos, a Greek restaurant focused on seafood. Five years ago, he switched from a list with wines ranging across the Mediterranean to an all-Greek list, now offering 470 selections. Stephanie Johnson talked with Kouiri about the move and how guests have reacted.

Why did you decide to shift to an all-Greek wine list?

The quality of Greek wines had been improving, with more winemakers starting to do things like use indigenous yeasts and make single-vineyard wines. A lot of the best Greek wines never used to leave the country, but since the financial crisis in Europe, Greece has focused more on export markets so there are a lot more good, small-production wines available in the US market.

Continue reading →


Jeff Berlin of Oakland’s A Côté on riesling, kadarka and selling sweet wines

Posted on Feb 28, 2014 by Luke Sykora in Restaurant Poll

Jeff Berlin was the opening wine director at Oakland’s A Côté. Over the past 13 years, he’s increasingly turned to Europe’s lesser-know yet historic wines and terroirs, especially the wines of Eastern Europe, to match chef Matthew Colgan’s hearty small plates.

Eastern European wines have been a major force for you again this year, with wines from both Hungary and Croatia selling well. Tell me about your top-selling wine, the Eszterbauer Szekszárdi Kadarka 2011.

I have a personal attachment to it because it was something Frank Dietrich [of Blue Danube Wine Company] and I found when we were in a wine bar in Budapest. He went on to strike up a relationship with them, and they’ve become very successful. It’s . . . Continue reading →

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