Ceri Smith's Life Story in 5 Bottles: From Jug Wine to Super-Luxe Barolo
Ceri Smith is an Italian wine superstar. Here, 5 defining bottles from one of F&W's 2014 Sommeliers of the Year.
"My mother was raised in Wales, so it was never frowned upon for me to have a sip of wine with dinner. I mostly chose not to, probably because they were drinking jug wine. I think Dr Pepper was less sweet."
1991, 1990 and 1989 Roederer Estate L'Ermitage
"I worked at Roederer Estate from 1999 to 2003, and Michel Salgues, the winemaker, took me under his wing. I just fell in love with all of it—the smell of the fermenting grapes; the dank, cool, dark cellar; the lab."
2001 Giuseppe Mascarello Monprivato Cà d'Morissio Barolo
"I love tasting with Mauro Mascarello. He's notorious for pouring wines for people that have been open for, like, four or five days. He doesn't care. This bottle took me back to Indochina in the late 1800s. I imagined being in this luxurious opium den with all these scents and silks and brocades. It was the most beautiful wine experience I've ever had."
2004 Vinoterra Kisi
"An importer walked into my shop [Biondivino, which she still owns] and said, 'I want you to try this Georgian wine!' And I was floored. It's aged on its skins in quevri [clay jars]. I've been lucky to go to Georgia, and I'm dying to go back. They have 524 native grape varieties and have been making wine there for 8,000 years."
2001 Edoardo Valentini Montepulciano
"I stumbled on this little wine shop in Milan. I always look for wines from Edoardo Valentini, and they had his Montepulciano, which I had been told was almost nonexistent. It was a unicorn wine and it was only 64 euros—I'd expected it to be 164. I left with three bottles, walking six inches off the ground. I was in heaven."