For its annual Best New Wine List Awards, Food & Wine scours the U.S. for outstanding wine programs, calling in hundreds of lists from more than 30 cities. Here are five of the biggest trends these lists revealed:
1. Sommeliers Making Wine
Sommeliers are going beyond the dining room and into vineyards around the world to make their own wines. They're even joining forces: Bernie Sun (corporate beverage director of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurant group) has teamed up with Janet Pouchot (sommelier at Restaurant Daniel in New York City) and Julius Chai (maître d' at Ciao Vito in Portland, Oregon) to make a Napa Valley red called III Somms Amitié ($25), a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Their first vintage, 2005, is well-structured, with juicy dark-berry notes.
2. Geography Obsession
Listing wines simply by grape variety or country of origin is becoming a relic of the past, as sommeliers increasingly focus on the idea of terroir (which takes into account not only the location of the vines, but the soil and climate of the place where they're grown). Many wine lists now read like an oenophile's atlas: Spruce in San Francisco lists Bordeaux's obscure satellite appellations, and at New York's Anthos, Greek wines are divided by region, island and peninsula. At Baltimore's Cinghiale, one of this year's F&W Best New Wine List winners, the Barolos are listed by commune (individual town-ships within the appellation)among them Fontanafredda's voluptuous 2001 Serralunga d'Alba Barolo ($55), from the Serralunga d'Alba commune in Italy's Piedmont region.