Liquid Diet: Sommelier Dustin Wilson Takes a Deep Dive Into an Epic Parisian Wine List
In Liquid Diet, a professional drinker journals every sip of one beverage-packed week. Here, Master Sommelier Dustin Wilson, former wine director of Eleven Madison Park, star of Somm and Somm: Into the Bottle documentaries and now co-founder of the fantastic new NYC wine shop Verve Wine in Tribeca, documents a week of small-production natural wines, a perfect Grand Cru white Burgundy at Tour d’Argent, Old World vs. New World tastings, quality espresso hunting and birthday-party mezcal.
6:30 a.m. A bottle of Fiji water to get hydrated in the morning. Always the morning routine.
6:35 a.m. Explosion. This is basically a powdered, flavored caffeine drink with other ingredients to give you a boost of energy before a workout. I chug this before leaving the house to go for a run.
8:00 a.m. Iced coffee from Rex. Rex is a great little coffee shop not too far from my place on the UWS.
2:00 p.m. I'm flying out to Paris today. I get to Newark airport early enough to grab a quick bite and a Kölsch at Saison (actually a decent spot in the airport).
3:30 p.m. I have some work to do on the flight over so I drink a coffee during the first beverage service. I supplement with bottled water that I picked up before boarding. Rest of the flight, I'm asleep :)
10:15 a.m. (Paris time) I'm with my business partner, Derrick, and we roll into Paris and stop for a coffee in the 11th near the apartment where we are staying. You're likely realizing that yes, I like to drink a lot of coffee...
11:00 a.m. We take a walk to grab a snack and stop by Maison Plisson, a great spot in the Marais. I have a ham sandwich and wash it down with a Kronenbourg.
12:00 p.m. After lunch, I head back to the apartment to get some work done and rest a bit before dinner.
8:00 p.m. We meet up with Josh Adler, of Paris Wine Company, for dinner at Gare au Gorille, a new spot from some ex-Septime chefs that proves to be a very delicious meal. I get a Bière de Bourges to start the dinner. The wine list has some fantastic choices that I recognize and a number that I don't. Champagne is always a good way to kick off the night so we opt for a bottle of Vincent Charlot Le Rubis de la Dune, a gorgeous saignée rosé with piercing acid and flavors of strawberries and rocks. Bubbly water is always present on the table. Next up we enjoy a very funky, fun bottle of 2016 Viognier from Daniel Sage. The wine is called La Voix du Périscope, named after a painting from 1978 that is featured as the artwork on the label. This is skin-macerated Viognier that is floral and exotic and textured with great structure. Hipster for sure... and fantastic! After the white we order a bottle of 2015 Jérôme Jouret En Avant Doute. 100% Grenache that's naturally fermented, partial carbonic maceration and no added sulfur. It's bright cherry, salty, smoky flavor is perfect with the pork that's in front of us. Dinner wraps up around 11pm and I round things off with an espresso.
11:30 p.m. On the way back to the apartment we stop at a corner bistro for a couple of Amstels before heading back to crash.
11:45 a.m. France has pretty terrible coffee, generally. It's hard to find a good cup or an espresso. So I was very happy to come across Boot Café over in the 3rd. A very proper espresso.
12:30 p.m. We meet up with some other NYC sommeliers who happen to be in Paris at the same time for a lunch of epic proportions at Tour d'Argent. The wine list here is deep and we have at it without holding back. Meals like this are quite a rare occasion so we let loose and go big. The absolute highlights include: 1979 Joly Coulée de Serrant (birth year); 1989 Raveneau Montée de Tonnerre (fresh, vibrant, and amazing and no signs of fading); 1985 Leflaive BBM [Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet] (absolutely stunning and perhaps the crowning white wine of the lunch. Voluptuous but laser sharp at the same time. Exotic aromatics. Perfect in every way.); 1980 Dujac Clos Saint-Denis (that started off very shy but after about 30 minutes it was incredible, exploding with spiced out aromas); and maybe the best Northern Rhône wine I've ever experienced, a 1966 Jaboulet La Chapelle (incredibly perfumed, elegant but powerful, the layers of aromas and flavors so perfectly balanced. I could have simply smelled this wine for the rest of the day and been content). Many other great bottles at this 4.5 hour lunch include 1990 & 1983 Dauvissat Les Preuses; 1999 Coche-Dury Meursault-Perrières (so generously shared by Daniel Johnnes who happened to be dining at the table next to ours); 1991 Leflaive Montrachet (also incredibly fresh and pristine); 1980 Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Bèze (confirming once again how much I love the 1980 vintage for red Burgundy); and 1988 Henri Jayer Echezeaux.
5:00 p.m. After a speed bump of espresso (not good this time) in the middle of the day, I take a long walk across the city to do my best to burn off lunch. This is supplemented with plenty of bottled water to prep myself for the pending dinner ahead.
9:15 p.m. Dinner at Frenchie. I love this place. Great vibe, amazing food, really fun wine list. Derrick & I each start with a glass of Michel Gonet Blanc de Noirs. Great, red-fruited aromatics and a nice lead into the dinner. For our first bottle we start with my favorite white wine producer in the world, Roulot. The 2013 Vireuils is elegant, sharp, and gushing with rocky mineral flavors, and carried us through the first several courses of vegetables and seafood. Next up is another favorite, the 2013 Thierry Allemand Chaillot. It's juicy and fresh and savory and salty and perfect with the quail course. After dinner we wash things down with some yellow Chartreuse V.E.P. (for digestion of course...). On the way back to the apartment, we make a beer stop again for some Stellas to end off an absolutely epic day.
8:00 a.m. Water to rehydrate. For some reason, I'm not hungover.
12:30 p.m. We meet up with a friend at Clover, a new restaurant from Jean-François Piège. We keep things simple and enjoy a very unassuming, yet delicious, Montlouis. I neglect to write down the name of the producer but it was one I had not enjoyed before. Espresso to finish the lunch (a good one here).
4:00 p.m. A large bottle of water while working at the apartment.
8:00 p.m. Dinner tonight is at Passage 53, a small, somewhat formal spot in the 2nd down a long, charming passage. The meal here is fantastic. The food is incredibly precise and the flavors and textures are very well-thought through and the hospitality is warm and welcoming. Sticking with the trend, we start the meal with a 2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne. As the meal begins we move into a refreshing bottle of 2008 Raveneau Montée de Tonnerre. It is strikingly fresh and vibrant, cementing how much I really enjoy 2008 Chablis. Guillaume, the maître d', after finding out that we are in the wine trade, brings over a blind tasting of red wine. Derrick and I go back and forth on it before landing on 2013, either Chambolle or Gevrey, but we can't decide where to go with it. It ends up being a 2013 Denis Mortet Gevrey-Chambertin Mes Cinq Terroirs so we were happy with our assessment. The wine shows a bit oaky, fairly typical for this producer, but works great with the pigeon dish we had in front of us. With dessert, Guillaume brings by a few tastes of 2009 Trimbach Gewürztraminer. It's beautifully aromatic and the right amount of sweetness to go with the dessert. Espresso to finish (another good one).
(I sleep in today and head directly to the airport early to fly back to NYC)
1:30 p.m. At CDG airport. Tall cold brew from Starbucks to get the energy flowing and wake up. I have tons of work to catch up on and need to stay awake during the flight home to reset my sleep schedule.
5:00 p.m. Layover in Zurich. Another cold brew...
7:00 p.m. Sparkling water on the flight to hydrate. An hour before landing - another coffee.
10:00 p.m. I get back to my apartment on the Upper West and chug water water water before passing out.
6:00 a.m. Right back into the swing of things in the city and excited to be back to work and back to normalcy. 16oz of bottled water to start the day, followed by another one of those powdered caffeine drinks before heading out for some exercise.
8:30 a.m. Before leaving for work, I down a protein shake. After this past week, returning to normal is key.
Throughout the day: more water.
6:00 p.m. I'm hosting a wine class at my wine shop in Tribeca, Verve Wine, tonight and break out the wines to taste ahead of time. The tasting is for a small group and the theme is Old World vs. New World wines. For the first flight it's a 2016 Alkoomi Riesling from Western Australia and a 2016 Keller Riesling Trocken from the Rheinhessen region of Germany. Flight 2 is a 2015 Domaine du Pélican Trois Cépages, a fantastic blend of Pinot Noir, Trousseau and Poulsard from Jura made by Guillaume d'Angerville of Volnay fame. Next to it is a 2015 Combe Trousseau, a collaborative effort between Stolpman Vineyards and sommelier legend Rajat Parr. Flight 3 is Gramenon's Sierra du Sud 2015 (always loved this wine) next to a 2014 Vallin Syrah from Santa Barbara. All the wines show beautifully and I have a great time with the group.
8:00 a.m. The same morning water ritual followed by the caffeine boost and a workout.
10:00 a.m. Iced coffee from Joe on the UWS.
2:00 p.m. It's our friend Tobin's birthday today and he and his wife, Jourdan, are throwing a little party at their place in the West Village, so my girlfriend, Natalie, and I head down to celebrate. The "theme" is Mexican and Jourdan has whipped up a huge spread. Tobin is co-founder of Hella Cocktail Co., an artisan mixers and bitters company based in Queens. He's in charge of beverages so he's set up a margarita bar with a choice of tequila or Del Maguey Mezcal (my choice), a touch of mango puree, and Hella Bitters smoked chili flavored bitters. I love mezcal and I love margaritas and the smoky chili flavor of the bitters really makes the drink, so I down about 4 of these quite easily through the afternoon, followed by a couple of shots of straight mezcal with Natalie and the birthday boy himself. This, as you can imagine, leads to a fantastic afternoon followed by an early night in bed and an end to my Liquid Diet week.