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Here, F&W's 2015 Sommeliers of the Year share the wines that hold the most sentimental value for them.
This week, we revealed our 2015 Sommeliers of the Year. While their professional lives are obviously all about wine (read about the bottles that made them who they are today here), the seven wine pros’ love of vino has spilled into their personal lives as well. Here, the incredibly talented oenophiles share the wines that hold the most sentimental value for them.
“I met my wife when I was moving out of an apartment that she was moving into. I immediately fell for her. I called my landlord and was like, ‘This is the person that is going to take the apartment!’ Because I wanted to see her again and wanted to help her move in while I was moving out. On the last day that I was moving out, I bought a bottle of wine for her and left it with a note just saying, ‘Hey, hope the moving stuff goes well, call me anytime, I’d love to see you again.’ That was a bottle of Trimbach Riesling. In a couple of weeks we were able to reconnect and fell for each other pretty much right away, and I moved back into that apartment pretty quickly. After some time I started to realize that she does not like white wine at all. But Riesling is her favorite grape, and she loves Trimbach Riesling. I kind of tease her that I knew her taste before she did. We still drink that wine together.” —Steve Wildy, Vetri Family Restaurants in Philadelphia
2002 Ledru Brut Nature
“After our wedding ceremony—my husband [Scott Frank] and I got married at an apple orchard—the two of us ran off into the orchard and had a bottle of Champagne together and just chilled out for a bit while everyone was streaming out. We drank a bottle of 2002 Ledru Brut Nature. We still had Champagne at the wedding, but we had that one special bottle waiting out in the orchard for us so we could go and have a little quiet time together and drink some bubbles, and it was really sweet. We bought a little bit of it, and every couple years we pop a bottle.” —Dana Frank, Ava Gene’s in Portland, Oregon
1968 Beaulieu Vineyard
“It’s from the year I was born. Also, a very special person to me, I don’t want to use the term boyfriend, but he gave me a bottle. He was actually in Napa that year, and so it was very special to him, too. To be able to share that together—the whole destiny of it all—is really big. The fact that that year is so important to him, and it’s the year I was born, and the fact that he was there. We were able to drink it on my birthday. It was definitely one of the best wines I have ever had—it was so alive, like something from 2008 or 2009. The color was so alive; it smelled like pencil shaving, like a great Bordeaux would, but really great red fruit that came through, just really incredible.” —Molly Wismeier, Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans
1998 Dom Perignon
“When my wife Jessica and I had first gotten together, I bought a few bottles of Dom Perignon, 1998 vintage. I bought it because in 2004 that was the one you would find on the shelf. I saved up some money, and I bought a few bottles that I wanted to hold on to for special occasions. It was the first wine that I had done that with. I bought a few bottles that I kept in storage in a cold basement. Those few bottles have always been enjoyed by just Jessica and myself on special occasions. One of them was on the anniversary of our engagement. We had it to celebrate the fact that we’d be moving to New York, and the last bottle of it that I bought we drank together on our wedding night last summer.” —Thomas Pastuszak, The Nomad in New York City
“My family has always been super supportive and really into wine, which is super cool. I have never in my entire life seen a dinner happen in my house without a bottle of wine. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen the same bottle twice. My mother and my father are super passionate about food and wine; they were doing this in the pre-foodie days. My dad had a great, great cellar that you couldn’t have today because it would be outrageously expensive. He was out there buying third- and second-growth Bordeaux for $14 a bottle. Those wines are amazing with time, and those were wines he was going to drink with his family, as well as German Riesling, Burgundies, Riojas, Brunellos and Barolos. So when I came of age and grew really passionate about wine, Barolos and Barbarescos were first on my docket. They are really complex wines, but they are very easy to relate to because there is so little fruit going on; there is just tar and rose petal and so uniquely unsimple in the world of wines. So for the last 10 years or so, I have been drinking Barolo with great people. And the wine is really quality, but it’s not even about that. Barolo makes me very, very happy because my family has been drinking it, and it’s always been done with family, and that is the best thing there is. Way more important than wine.” —Richard Hanauer, Rpm Steak in Chicago
1985 Dom Perignon Oenothèque
“Last year, I got engaged on top of opening the LaV, so it was a crazy year. On my birthday, my fiancé and I shared a bottle of Dom Perignon 1985 Oenothèque, which was a bottle I found at this liquor store. I don’t even think they knew what they had. I bought it for $160, and I think it is worth so much more. So I bought everything they had—six bottles—we drank it and saved the bottle.” —Vilma Mazaite, LaV in Austin
“Champagne as a category for me possesses a lot of my greatest memories in wine. Like drinking Champagne at taco trucks to celebrate the last shift of a co-worker or drinking Champagne with a loved one to celebrate a life milestone.” —Taylor Parsons, République in Los Angeles