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Mark Sommelier

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Everything posted by Mark Sommelier

  1. 20 years ago, in 1983, I got my first job where my title was actually sommelier. Before that, it had been maitre d' or captain. I had the opportunity to work with one of the old time guys in Washington, DC. This guy was the consummate predator sommelier and I still thank him for teaching me all the things one should never do to a customer. Some random predator stories: This particular fellow would walk to the table with the winelist, but he would never let it go. After a few words he would announce that he had the perfect wine for you. Needless to say, it was always terribly expensive. Since this restaurant was in a convention hotel, there were always many large parties dining with us. My man would identify the host, chat breifly, then come back with 6 bottles of wine and proceed to pull all the corks before anyone could stop him. The restaurant used those horrible Libbey tulip glasses. He would fill everyone's glass, then depart. This was the signal for the waiter to come over and empty every bottle. Glasses filled right to the rim. Shameless. My job was to replace the fellow 2 nights a week. The waiters didn't care for me because I couldn't bring myself to act this way. Another ruse: customer would ask for a glass of wine. "We don't serve wine by the glass. Have a half bottle, that's a glass". He would dump a full half bottle in the tulip glass. Same with Champagne. More recently, a friend told me that on Bush's inauguration night a Texan came into his restuarant with 2 blonde babes on his arms. "Get me the best damned bottle of pinot noir you have". The waiter returns with a bottle of Romanee Conti and pulls the cork. Needless to say when the check came, the guy happened to notice the $4,000 bottle of wine. Neither he nor my friend were amused. That waiter doesn't work there anymore. For myself, I firmly believe that the guy who wants to spend a load of money will let me know it clearly. Even though I work on commission, I am much more concerned that the customer gets the best bottle of wine within the budget he has established with me. Luckily for me, there are still plenty of high-rollers out there who visit our restaurant. I learned long ago that for every bottle of house wine I serve, there is a bottle of Chateau Latour to balance it. My restaurant will sell 2 million dollars worth of wine this year. This is the result of my work: having a balanced and varied wine program and winelist that appeals to customers at every price level.
  2. Because the bar at Nectar has only 6 seats. I remember this hotel from years ago when it was called the Intrigue. Small, intimate bar. What could be cooler? The bar at Marcel's is lots of fun, also. Ask for Ramon or Adnan. Tell them Mark sent you.
  3. My little buddy ExPat is being exceedingly kind with his comments. I was his dining partner. His assessment is correct. I wish we had gone to the Guards instead and had oysters Rockefeller and Veal Oscar. If Cynthia is working , that is a big plus.
  4. Woo Hoo! Lobster burgers with pommes frites cooked in clarified butter and a glass of Domaine Maillard 2000 Vielles Vignes Meursault on the terrace at Citronelle. Sorry for the shameless plug.
  5. Nevan, Pardon me for responding without quoting. Thank you for your interesting and informative post. People ask me everyday what I think about Oregon PNs. I think they vary greatly, is my answer. Glad you confirmed that. Domaine Serene just won some fairly impressive tasting battles,topping some Grand Cru French Burgundies . I am a fan of the wine. Here's a scoop: Bobby Kacher no longer distributes Beaux Freres in the US. Jim Arsenault has been named national sales manager. For those who know him, Jim is always a colorful and vocal addition to a tasting. Of the Panther Creek wines, I think the Bednarik Vineyard was the top scorer for that vintage. A Question: you mention chaptalization. Can they do that in Oregon? When you ask the Burgundy guys about chaptilization, they all change the subject immediately. Final question: You are a wine writer? Why are you anonymous?
  6. Wow, Saucygirl, good for you. I watched the second episode. Between the pig-people customers and the dopey waiters, it was painful to watch. When the first customer asked "what is spaghettini aglio olio" and the answer was "I don't know", I wrote this restaurant off. When the kitchen segment started and there were more bleeps than on the Osbournes, I switched it off.
  7. The restaurant where I work is not participating. This has not stopped people from calling up and actually ARGUING with the reservationists that they saw our name on the list. Last year, 2 people actually had dinner and ordered wine and complained to the manager when their rather large check came, even though there is no mention anywhere on the menu about RW. Another table of 4 came in, ordered Champagne, asked about our RW menu, then crossed their arms and pouted like children when they were told we were not participating. I had to leave the floor, go to my office and print out the RAMW webpage to prove to them we weren't lying to them. This is the flip side.
  8. Mark Sommelier

    Greek Wines

    Andre, You are right. There are big changes going on in Greek winemaking now. The 2 Greek wines that I know from my youth, Retsina and Mavrodaphne, seem to have disappeared. Xthinomavro is the grape to look for. Adding cabernet sauvignon and merlot to these wines should be illegal, IMO.
  9. I ate several times at the TV's here in Washington, DC. Trader Vic's was Richard Nixon's favorite restaurant. I learned in the gossip columns here that table 64 was his favorite place. We always ate at that table. Best poo-poo platter I ever had.
  10. Tj, When you go, Kelly is the lady to talk to. Ask for her. She runs the place and buys the wine. Tell her your friend Mark from Citronelle sent you. Ask her what her favorites are on the winelist.
  11. Al, Please visit http://www.tradervics.com Click on the menu item that says Restaurants. This is where it all started. They closed the damned one here!! Best Poo-Poo Platter I ever had! Their signature cocktail was the Zombie. A punch bowl full of rum and juice with 24" straws.
  12. Mark Sommelier

    Greek Wines

    Had some delicious white wine from Santorini last night. Also a decent xinomavro. Sorry, the labels were in ..... Greek.
  13. Ah, but, Bux, you're not paying attention! That wasn't just any waiter. That was GIDEON!!. He was the actor/waiter who was first in line in the first episode with the sign that said "I'm not a bum. I'm first in line". He has his own website now. This is a sad show. Maybe I wasn't. I thought it was the guy in the sloppily unbuttoned green shirt that went out for wine. Gideon was reduced to working in the basement cleaning latrines and stuff that night, wasn't he? They were a pair of hams, and as I recall had to told to break up their duo act for the cameras. Right you are! All those schlubs looked alike to me.
  14. That is my favorite - YUM. Yep, nutmeg, sugar, nutmeg, some thoroughly-cooked lamb, nutmeg, eggplant, and a dash of nutmeg. Well, last night we went there with a group of 25. They have a sort of communal table in the middle of the downstairs part. I tasted 5 or 6 dishes. The lamb shank was one of them. This was my favorite. The olives are damn good, too. Mr. DonRocks is correct, however. There was one hell of a lot of nutmeg in that dish. The meat was savory, however.
  15. Ah, but, Bux, you're not paying attention! That wasn't just any waiter. That was GIDEON!!. He was the actor/waiter who was first in line in the first episode with the sign that said "I'm not a bum. I'm first in line". He has his own website now. This is a sad show.
  16. Yeah, baby, I'm with you. This show made them all look like jerks. The creep with the "go across the street and buy 4 bottles of red wine. Barolo, or something". Dude! Its lower Manhattan, there's no bodegas on every corner there. Everything about this episode seemed fake, principally Rocco's "concern". There were as many bleeps as the stupid Osbournes, ferchrissake. Get me the <bleeping> clams! That should be this year's mantra, like last year was "you're off the island!". I personally have no interest in the next show, or the last show. What did everyone think about the appearance of the Hilton girls? That's a whole other thread......
  17. Nonino is my amaro of choice. Shot, not sipped. Excellent hangover cure, too.
  18. The 2000 I found to be a disappointing wine when tasted next to the '99. Thin and weedy.
  19. I think that might be because Walter Taylor...umm.... died a few years ago.
  20. Mark Sommelier

    Regarding WTNs

    Tj, love your use of irony here. Go ahead, post 50 more. See what happens.
  21. Mark Sommelier

    DRC Jr.

    Jim, Was this a red wine or a white wine? Cherries and Muscadet cornfused me.
  22. Mark Sommelier

    label removal

    About 20 years ago, California wine producers introduced "ice-proof glue" on their labels. The trend caught on with producers all over. Some French labels can still be soaked off easily. The best method I've seen recently are those clear plastic sheets that lift the top layer of the paper off the bottle. They are not terribly expensive.
  23. Yes, we also get the guys who drink Harlan Estate as the aperitif, then ask me what they should have next.
  24. Think downstream: imagine what that $4.99 bottle of Languedoc wine at the wine shop cost the importer before everyone has tacked on their markup. Pennies.
  25. Hello Andre, The first guy was with his wife, a friend and 2 children. He was looking at the winelist. I approached the table and gave him my usual "how can I help you?" greeting. He said "we'll start with the '86 Ducru, then have the 1959 Leoville Las Cases". All I had to say was "OK!". The second guy is a regular in the restaurant. He always drinks Le Montrachet. He has had the DRC before, but has also had the Laguiche and Sauzet from me, too. His friends had never heard of the wine before. He asked me to tell them a little about it. Fortunately, the DRC label has some very impressive information on it. 2,649 bottles produced, this is bottle # 0139. They were stunned. I let slip that the imaginary liquor store price of the wine is @$1200. Now they were in awe of their friend. I brought the second bottle still wrapped in its handmade sheath of straw. They took the labels home with them. The whole transaction was very low-key. The host also insisted that I get myself a glass from each bottle, as my tastevin is too small, according to him. I love nights like these.
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