Last week, hospitality golden child Daniel Boulud brought together the biggest and brightest names in the food and wine industry for his Sommelier All-Stars dinner, which honored the sommeliers of his numerous restaurants.
Seven of them were in attendance, including wine director Daniel Johnnes, and they all presented a pair of wines to match sumptuous courses throughout the evening. Alexander LaPratt, sommelier at DB Bistro, chose the evening’s champagnes, a pair of ’04 Blancs de Blancs from small growers A. Margaine and Pierre Moncuit.
Johnnes had to credit sommelier Raj Vaidya with helping him make Restaurant Daniel’s wine list a truly great one, and Vaidya admitted that he joined the team to turn Burgundy-centric Johnnes into a Riesling drinker. Vaidya chose two German Riselings, a ’90 J.J. Prum “Wehlener Sonnenuhr” Spatlese and the Leitz “Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck” Spatlese to pair with an indulgent duck terrine.
Johnnes, of course, chose two Burgundies to match with crispy Scottish langoustines – a 2009 Sanit Aubin 1er Cru “En Remilly” from burgeoning Pierre Tyves Colin-Morey and a more full-bodied 2008 Meursault Genevrieres from Jobard.
After more choices and courses were unveiled, it was time to have some real fun. Kerrie O’Brien from DBGB announced, “Enough of the classics, let’s get funky,” and presented some exotic “orange” wines – whites with plenty of skin contact and oxygen – and was followed by some other non-traditional hits.
And what would be a gathering of sommeliers without a little friendly competition? Chef Boulud challenged his crew with a blind tasting, during which he passed around a decanter of a red and a white, the latter of which succeeded in humbling even the pros with its ambiguity. The master himself impressed the group when they in turn challenged Boulud to a blind tasting, which he promptly identified.
After it all, the group took a late night trip downtown to drink – of all things – beer.
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