GLOBAL SOMMELIER SERIES
WHAT DOES MICHAËL DRINK ON HIS DAYS OFF?
Former Beverage Director of Wine Spectator Private Club New York
Former Associate Wine Director of USHG
Former Wine Director of The Modern, NYC
Former Wine Director of Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney
Master Sommelier from Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS)
Winner of Krug Cup for passing the Master Sommelier exam on the first attempt
Earned the Johnston Medal for the highest score in the Advanced Certificate from CMS, and was named a Rudd Scholar, 2009
Best Sommelier in America, 2009
Voted one of five “Best New Sommeliers” by Wine & Spirits magazine, 2009
MEET MICHAËL ENGELMANN, MS
MASTER SOMMELIER | KRUG CUP WINNER | BEST SOMMELIER IN USA
Well-respected French Master Sommelier Michaël Engelmann has worked in restaurants for over 20 years. After attending culinary school, he worked in various Michelin Star restaurants across France, later moving to England, San Francisco, Sydney and New York to lead up wine lists in Chewton Glen Hotel, Restaurant Gary Danko, Rockpool Bar & Grill and Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) respectively. During his time in New York, Michaël moved from being a Wine Director for Danny Meyer at The Modern to Associate Director of Wine at USHG. He later oversaw the wine lists at Untitled at the Whitney Museum, appointed wine directors and assisted in two venue openings; Manhatta and Intersect by Lexus. His most recent venture saw him joining the senior management as Beverage Director at WS & The Tavern by WS, a private club named after the Wine Spectator publication, and its adjacent non-exclusive restaurant, The Tavern by WS, in New Work.
In 2009, after winning the Best Sommelier in America competition, Michaël passed the Advanced Certificate exam from the Court of Master Sommeliers. As the participant with the highest score in the country, he earned the Johnston Medal and was named a Rudd Scholar. Finally, he was also voted one of five “Best New Sommeliers” by Wine & Spirits magazine.
In 2011, Michaël passed the Master Sommelier exam, earning the Krug Cup for having done so on his first attempt. He is one of only 14 individuals to accomplish this feat.
Throughout his career, Michaël has been invited to be a guest speaker, educator and judge in cities all around the world, from New York to Los Angeles, Sydney, Seoul, Hong Kong and Shanghai. He has contributed articles to Wine & Spirits magazine and taught classes not only for the staff of the restaurants he works for but also for the Court of Master Sommeliers, the International Culinary Center in NYC and Wine Australia.
“With time has come a new generation of wine drinkers, along which we’re seeing a continued exploration of styles and diversity from both producers and consumers.”
– Michaël Engelmann shares about the ongoing trend in the wine industry
IN THIS SELECTION
ENVÍNATE BENJE BLANCO
What — Listán Blanco
Where — Canary Islands, Spain
When — 2018
“Presently in the somm world, there are fewer brands that are more en vogue than Envínate. When things can get ‘super hip’, there can often be an element of suspicion towards the wines, however right across their range, they’re backing them up with incredible quality in the glass. I really love the idea of the younger generation coming through yet being so committed to working with such amazing old vines and ensuring that they don’t die out. It’s a history and tradition that would be otherwise lost. To think of drinking a wine from the Canary Islands – somewhere so remote and unique, it’s pretty incredible. I love the saltiness and tang that you get with the Benje Blanco. It’s filled with complexity yet presents a pure expression of its terroir. To put the wine into its true context, you just need to see pictures of the vineyards.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Racy acidity with a zippy olive brine quality on the palate. Crushed rock, salty minerality with a green apple tang.
Envínate, which literally translates as ‘wine yourself’, is the project of four passionate young winemakers: Roberto Santana, Jose Martinez, Laura Ramos and Alfonso Torrente. The four met while studying oenology in 2005 and formed a collective based on a shared philosophy of wine and a desire to explore the ancient, Atlantic-influenced terroirs of western Spain. Their exploration takes them from Spain’s Ribeira Sacra to the Canary Islands, which is where the Benje Blanco comes from. It is made from Listán Blanco (which is also known as Palomino Fino, when grown and used for sherry production in Jerez) across a number of high altitude organically-farmed small plots on the volcanic slopes of Tenerife. It is aged in a combination of concrete tanks and old French barriques, to help retain its purity. A portion of the juice sees extended skin contact which helps to add some texture and complexity to the wine, whilst still being crisp and clean.
One of the most truly exciting projects to come from Spain for a long time backed by incredible quality across the range.
What — Chenin Blanc, Sémillon
Where — Walker Bay, South Africa
When — 2019
“When I speak of the ‘new South Africa’, Alheit is one that immediately springs to mind. I discovered the wines when in New York, initially tasting them with Chris himself. Suffice to say, I was shocked by the overwhelming quality of the Chenin. I was fortunate enough to later visit the estate in Walker Bary, and to this day it’s still one of the best visits I’ve ever had. I love the balance between texture and freshness in the wines – there’s so much energy to them. The work they’re doing with resurrecting old vines is truly commendable, as there’s so much energy that needs to be poured into – long hours of driving, difficult access and the manual work that’s required. The dedication to their vines can be seen with what ends up in the glass.”
Character & Tasting Notes — A complex intertwining of herbal notes, textural intrigue with notes of oatmeal, citrus, ripe quince, subtle oak usage with light spicy twists and pithy acidity.
Chris and Suzanne Alheit have quickly become South Africa’s top white wine producers. Focusing on old-vine Chenin and Sémillon, Alheit Vineyards produces some of the most thrilling wines in South Africa. Their rise in popularity and deserved attention began with the launch of the 2011 Cartology. In under a year, the women were among the most talked-about South African winemakers globally and continued to garner increasing attention. The excitement behind the 2019 is similar to the 2011, with many reviewers claiming it as their best release to date. Cartology, drawing its name from the study of maps or charts, is emblematic of the search for the special old-vine vineyards which make it the wine along with Chris and Suzanne’s vinous exploration of the Cape’s heritage of parcels. The wine comes from dry-grown bush vine parcels that are at least 30 years old, with some over 50 years old. The 2019 Cartology is a blend of 90% Chenin Blanc and 10% Sémillon. It undergoes a wild fermentation in a variety of vessels including cement eggs, clay pots and old oak barrels of various sizes. It spends around 12 months in these varieties of vessels, on its lees, before a further six months in tank before bottling. Any additions to the wine are minimal, with a focus on letting the uniqueness of the sites and quality vine material shine through. The wine is dry and complex, a combination of both its fruit sourcing and attention to detail in the winery, with notes of ripe stone fruits, quince and vibrant citrus with just a hint of honey. It displays a long and persisting finish, with its acidity continuing to draw you back in.
DUREUIL-JANTHIAL RULLY BLANC
What — Chardonnay
Where — Burgundy, France
When — 2018
“This is a domain that I’ve been following for the last 10 – 15 years. I’ve always been a big fan of their wines, and the 2018 is so damn good. For me, they’ve long been my reference producer for Rully and are able to make great wines across both colours, with each of their cuvées having differentiation from one another. It’s amazingly approachable now, but also has a good life ahead of it. There’re many white Burgundy producers to look at other than the Côte de Beaune, especially so with the incredible value presented from other parts, such as Côte Châlonnaise, and in particular with the wines of Dureuil-Janthial. The traditional ‘hierarchy’ of Burgundy is in need of a review, with the quality of wines now being seen from the southern end of the region beginning to rival, and best, many of their Côte de Beaune counterparts. Prices in Burgundy are increasing, so to still see such good value with such great quality requires exploration outside of the ‘tried and true’ appellations. Their 2018 Rully Blanc has a ripeness to it yet retains a tension; there’s reduction there without it being merely ‘make-up’ on the wine. The work on the vines and through the élevage results in wines that are so precise and pure.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Beautifully aromatic with a balanced bouquet of acacia flowers, yellow fruits and citrus fruits. Creamy, fresh and well defined on the palate. An intense and distinct mineral white wine.
Domaine Dureuil-Janthial is amongst the leading domaines of the Côte Chalonnaise. Based in Rully, which is less than 10 kilometers south from Chassagne-Montrachet, they have long led the charge of quality wines from the region and now rank not just amongst the top tier of the Côte Chalonnaise but Burgundy as a whole. Vincent Dureuil took over the estate in 1994 at the tender age of 24 and in the ensuing years has catapulted the quality of the wines to new heights. He is a firm believer that “because wine is first grown in the vineyard, we have chosen to respect the land and let the soils and vineyards live, to produce committed and accurate wines of great purity and a frank personality.” The domaine now extends to 20 hectares, predominantly in the Côte Chalonnaise, which are tended to organically and with soil cultivation. In the cellars, the wines are handled gently with minimal usage of new oak, natural fermentations and very minimal additions through the winemaking process. Few winemakers have shown such a quality hand at producing wines in both whites and reds as Vincent Dureuil.
ARNOT ROBERTS SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR
What — Pinot Noir
Where — California, USA
When — 2018
“When I moved to the USA in 2005, Arnot Roberts was one of the new kids on the block; there was a lot of excitement around them. I’ve always been amazed by the range that they produce; in colour and styles. When someone is predominantly a Cabernet producer and they make Pinot Noir, you can often tell it’s a Pinot from a Cab producer – whereas, with Arnot Roberts, they have this seamless movement with what they’re producing. I love their balance of embracing the New World, with a tip of the cap to the Old World, with such energy and restraint to the alcohol. Their wines are the true expression of their sites; they retain their spirit and identity. They might not be the newest kids on the block anymore, but year on year they continue to push themselves forward and are making consistently delicious wines. I’m a big fan of what they’re doing.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Vibrant, crunchy palate with notes of red cherry and redcurrant. Restrained alcohol levels allow the fruit to shine through with a refined line of acidity bringing the palate together.
Childhood friends Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts are two of the most progressive and revolutionary producers on the California landscape. However, it was the 2005 vintage that truly set them on their path: a very cool vintage resulting in higher acidity and lower alcoholic ripeness, with which they fell in love and continued to pursue. This was the antithesis of common styles at the time.
Made from a collection of cool-climate vineyards across the Sonoma Coast, this Pinot Noir exemplifies what a deft hand can produce. Made with a large percentage of whole-bunch fermentation, natural fermentation and restrained use of oak it flies counter to the common expectations of ‘muscular’ and often overbearing Pinot Noir examples from the US. The wine hardly lacks flavour or intensity yet is able to embody the typicity of Pinot Noir. A small production winery with demand which far outweighs the available supply.
OCHOTA BARRELS GREEN ROOM
What — Grenache
Where — McLaren Vale, Australia
When — 2019
“Taras was truly one of the leaders of the New Australia movement happening. From a guy that was making millions of litres of industrial wine to finding his place with bespoke small-batch examples in South Australia, he really had an incredible range as a winemaker. I feel lucky to have worked with his wines in both Australia and New York; often having them by the glass. I’ll never forget one evening at The Modern when I had him as a guest sommelier on the floor. Taras was one of those characters who truly represented the diversity in the wine world. He was just such a great dude, and the wines are f#%king great. This is a wine that I love to serve slightly chilled, especially in climates such as Singapore. Put it in an ice bucket, a nice bit of a chill to it and the bottle’s gone before you know it. Beautiful sweet-fruited character to the wine, without being one-dimensional. Vale Taras, and thanks for the amazing wines you blessed us with.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Refreshingly vibrant example of McLaren Vale Grenache with raspberry, blueberry and ripe strawberry characters. Layered with red flowers and crushed herbs on the nose through to a pomegranate-like sappiness on the palate with crunchy acidity.
Taras and Amber Ochota challenged every notion commonly held about Australian wines. Take every idea around rich, oaky, high octane Australian red wines and spin it towards the opposite direction – that is where you’ll find the range of Ochota Barrels. Taras truly personified the term “rockstar winemaker” with a past of playing in punk rock bands before turning his hand to winemaking. Their approach is geared towards unadulterated examples of wines with a “less is more” philosophy to their winemaking.
The Green Room 2019 comes from a block planted in 1946 in McLaren Vale which sits on schist. As with all of Taras and Amber’s wines, it follows a ‘hands-off’ style approach in the winery, with natural fermentation and only minor additions of sulphur when needed. Weighing in at only 12.8% alcohol, it displays a lighter & more vibrant side to what’s possible from McLaren Vale and South Australia as a whole with a distinctive purity and expression of terroir through the wine.
Taras may have retired from touring in bands but his fondness for rock music continued on with the inspiration and naming of his wines coming from a selection of his favourite songs.
ROAGNA LANGHE ROSSO
What — Nebbiolo
Where — Piedmont, Italy
When — 2015
“When it comes to the best of Piedmont, you’d be remiss not to include Roagna amongst the very top of producers. These are wines that I truly love: proper old school Piedmontese. Their testament towards quality shines through with their Langhe Rosso. For this wine, they use the ‘young vines’, which in this case are between 20 to 25 years old and from some of the most famous sites within Piedmont. Most other producers would use this fruit for their bottlings of Barolo or Barbaresco, which would sell for nearly double that of a ‘humble’ Langhe Rosso! Not chasing fads or fashion, the wines have a beautiful, classic element to them with firm tannins backed by a powerful acidity and Nebbiolo’s trademark cherry, tobacco and leathery characters.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Layered flavours of cherry, tobacco, earthy and leather sit amongst a balanced yet firm set of tannins and vibrant acidity.
The Roagna family holds a long history within Piedmont, having made wine there for well over a century now. The modern story begins in the 1950s with the purchase of several key vineyard plots; now has 15 hectares of vines between both Barbaresco and Barolo. The key to understanding Roagna is their fastidious approach towards old vines and biodiverse massal selection (the practice of replanting new vineyards with cuttings from exceptional old vines from the same or nearby property). This approach is exemplified through their Langhe Rosso – a blend of Pajé in Barbaresco, and Pira in Castiglione Falletto.
These are vineyards of such quality that many producers create single-vineyard expressions from equivalent age vines for bottlings of Barolo or Barbaresco. However, the Roagnas declassify down to Langhe Rosso with their belief that their vines at greater than 25 years old are the truest expression of the vineyards and as such reserved for the vineyard-designated bottlings. It is fermented naturally in large wooden botti before going to neutral oak for extended ageing of almost five years before bottling. The slow approach results in a wine of harmonious tannin balance and integration, with complexity developed through its elongated maturation. The wine begins to unfurl with time in the glass and will further open up with a decant when first served.