Top 5 Sommeliers
I’ve become a bit of a sommelier groupie of late. I’ve found myself deciding where to eat based on who’s likely to be pouring my wine. The role of sommeliers (wine waiters) has come a long way in Australia in the past 10-15 years. My interest started with the likes of the legendary Charles Leong (who I met at MG Garage but now just keeps ‘appearing’ in new restaurants); Nick Hildebrandt from Bentley Group (who still pours some of the best rieslings I’ve ever tasted); Franck Moreau (Merivale Group) and John Clancy (ex-Quay and Guillaume). But lately I’ve met a whole new generation of passionate oenophile professionals eager to share their vinous discoveries. Do yourself a favour and, next time you’re deciding what to drink, put the wine list aside and ask the sommelier. Here are five who never steer me wrong.
Louella Matthews Bibo Wine Bar
Louella’s passion for edgy wines, skin-contact or otherwise, is as contagious as Jose Silva’s cooking is addictive. I love the Alsatian-style field blend (different grapes grown in the one vineyard, in this case riesling, gewürz and pinot gris) from Swinney in Western Australia’s Great Southern that she poured for me recently.
Tim Watkins Automata
I discussed wine with Tim for years at Pilu at Freshwater, home of Sydney’s best Italian wine list. Now he’s stretching his geographic wings and pouring the German Fledermaus (skin-contact Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner), a hit with Clayton Well’s coconut, black sesame & rockmelon dessert.
Ed Loveday ACME & Bar Brose
I’ve always had great wines at ACME (often from the hand of Gavin Wright – see below), but my latest discovery came courtesy of co-owner Ed, who suggested a glass of Contadino red from the godfather of Sicilian natural winemaking, Frank Cornelissen, with Mitch Orr’s ‘Mongolian pipis’.
Ambrose Chiang Momofuku Seiōbo – BUT MOVING ON SOON
Sure I love Paul Carmichael’s spicy fish head and roti … but it’s the orange wines Ambrose pours with it that I’m addicted to. There’s a new one every time I visit (watch my Instagram feed for proof), most recently the Roche Blanche from young French artisan Jean-Yves Peron.
Gavin Wright Wyno
At Chow Bar & Eating House it was hard to decide what I enjoyed more, Chui Lee Luk’s cooking or Gavin’s wine matches. We bonded over a love of Manzanilla, our most recent discovery being the delicate Rey Fernando de Castilla. Gavin moves around a bit, but he’s most recently been sited at Wyno, the bar on the old 121BC site behind Porteño.