GLOBAL SOMMELIER SERIES
WHAT DOES RAJ DRINK ON HIS DAYS OFF?
MEET RAJ PARR
WINEMAKER | WINNER OF 3 JAMES BEARD AWARDS | MINA GROUP
Indian-American Sommelier Raj Parr started his career at Rubicon – the renowned wine-focused restaurant of Master Sommelier Larry Stone, where as Stone’s protégé, Raj honed his wine knowledge and tasting talent that would propel him to become one the world’s most celebrated sommeliers. Raj left Rubicon to take over the wine program at San Francisco’s landmark Fifth Floor restaurant before moving to join chef Michael Mina as Wine Director for The Mina Group. His tenure saw him spearhead the wine programs for all 20 of the group’s restaurants in the US.
His passion for wine grew with his frequent travels to European wine regions and California wine country. As vineyards and winemaking became ever more an obsession, Raj made the transition from sommelier to producer. From 2011 – 2014, Raj cofounded Sandhi with Santa Barbara County winemaker Sashi Moorman based on their shared interest in pushing the boundaries of California wine. In 2018, they launched the Raj Parr Wine Club, a label of unique and esoteric wines and styles sold directly to members.
Beyond his wineries, Raj collaborated with writer Jordan Mackay in 2010 on the James Beard Award-winning book Secrets of the Sommeliers and again in 2018 for The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste, which won the Andre Simon Award. Rajat lives in Santa Barbara and can still be found frequently traveling the world speaking, teaching, tasting, and obsessively learning.
"These are all wines from people that I respect and admire. Many are good friends too. During these difficult times, it's nice to have comfort with a real sense of connection. I feel very much connected through the farming and overall friendship shared through the wines"
– Raj Parr on why he selected these bottles
IN THIS SELECTION
What — Champagne (80% Pinot Noir | 20% Chardonnay)
Where — Champagne, France
When — NV
“Fréd’s a longtime & dear friend. We’ve both got a huge love for each other’s wines & styles. More people are increasingly using barrels for primary fermentation within Champagne, but for me, Fred’s balance that he achieves is some of the best within the region. It’s a beautiful balance between the oxidative elements whilst still retaining freshness. His wines show that complexity that can be achieved without going too far.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Rich red fruit characters over a chalky minerality and green apple freshness.
Frédéric Savart makes another appearance in a Clink Clink bundle; truly demonstrating the incredible nature of his wines across the range. L’Accomplie is a blend of two villages, Villers-aux-Noeuds and Ecueil, and is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. It’s partially aged in large barrels, with half aged in stainless, before going to bottle. The style which Fred aims for is one of depth & complexity, through his use of barrels and fastidious work in the vineyard, whilst retaining freshness. For a former football player that didn’t touch a drop of alcohol until he was 19, he’s certainly solidified himself as one of the most exciting vignerons presently within Champagne.
BELLUARD LE FEU
What — Gringet
Where — Savoie, France
When — 2017
“I visited Dominique a couple years ago, after having loved the wines for many years. Gringet is such an unknown grape, with Belluard truly leading what is possible with the variety. Dominique knows how to master the texture that can be achieved, with its true quality exemplified here through biodynamic farming. We’ve now planted Gringet ourselves now, with the inspiration coming from seeing what is possible from Dominique. I’ve found myself having to stop drinking everything I’ve got in the cellar during lockdown.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Layers of exotic spice, white peaches & wild mint over an iron-rich minerality
The wines of Savoie have only recent entered the radar for even the most ardent of wine drinkers, with their consumption mainly being in the surrounding alps and for a long time of mediocre at best quality. Such producers as Belluard have changed the paradigm of quality form the region, being known as the ‘Saviour of Gringet’ with half of the 20 hectares of Gringet belonging to Belluard. It is a versatile grape that is made into both still and sparkling examples; often showing delicate aromatics and floral characters. Belluard’s Le Feu comes from their oldest vines planted in red, iron-rich soils adding depth & complexity to the wine, with layers of exotic spice over a crunchy minerality. A truly unique example of a grape that almost ceased to be.
BERNARD BONIN BOURGOGNE BLANC
What — Chardonnay
Where — Burgundy, France
When — 2017
“Definitely a new discovery to me, within the last couple of years. I’ve been quite lucky to taste my fair share of Burgundy before, and the 2017 from Bonin for me is one of the best Bourgogne Blancs ever, period. The quality here out does most people’s Premier Crus. Here it’s organic farming & all the good stuff, which helps translate through to the quality in the glass. I’ve not actually visited the estate, which says something of the quality here against all the Burgs that I love to drink.”
Character & Tasting Notes —Pure fruited expression of Chardonnay, with ripe stone fruits, vibrant citrus and a distinctive minerality.
The estate of Bernard Bonin was born in 1998, when Veronique Bernard Bonin’s grandfather split his domaine, Domaine Michelot, into three with Veronique taking vines from her mother’s vineyards to create Domaine Bernard Bonin, with her husband Nicolas Bonin. The estate is based in Meursault, as are most of their 7-hectares of vines. Their strict work in the vines allows them to let the wines express themselves in the cellars, with as little intervention as possible. The use of only natural yeasts, no fining or filtering and minimal sulphur combined with restraint use of new oak allows their wines to shine through with a purity of fruit and flavour. The fruit for their Bourgogne Blanc comes from a single parcel located up the slope between Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet, and given the same attention in the cellars as all of their other plots. An incredibly exciting estate to try and get your hands on.
JEAN-LOUIS DUTRAIVE CAROLON FLEURIE
What — Gamay
Where — Beaujolais, France
When — 2017
“Jean-Louis is a good friend of mine. We’ve both visited each other’s estates. I actually got cuttings of Gamay from Jean-Louis, for a new block we’ve planted in the States. I truly love his classic approach: drawing inspiration from Jules Chauvet; old school true carbonic; gentle extraction; organic and low impact farming. I’m a big drinker of Beaujolais, and more often than not it’s something from Jean-Louis in my glass.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Wild berries & rhubarb flavours sitting atop a distinctive granitic flavour on the palate
Jean-Louis Dutraive represents the fifth generation of Domaine de la Grand’Cour, joining his father at the estate in 1977. The family’s total holdings comprise of 11.5 hectares, all farmed organically, with additional grapes being purchased from fellow local growers. Carolon, an example of purchased grapes, is a high-altitude vineyard in the north-west of Fleurie, within Beaujolais, on granitic soils. This steep vineyard with shallow soils leads to a distinctive minerality running through its core of vibrant wild berry character. The wine is aged in very large format oak, to not impart oaky-characters but to impart further texture to the wine and help the flavours further integrate.
What — Mencia
Where — Ribeira Sacra, Spain
When — 2018
“Everything about this excites me. For a start, they’re amazing people. Then add in that they’re working with some incredible land and grapes. The result is truly delicious wines. There’s wines of every vintage dating back to 2013 in my cellar; I can’t wait to see how they further age. We also got cuttings for our Mencia from the team at Envinate, which will have its first vintage in 2020. It’s a variety that I love the texture of; subtle & low tannins. We’ve planted ours in a slightly cooler climate than that of Ribeira, and I think it’s got some exciting prospects.
Character & Tasting Notes — Red berry fruits balanced by a savoury edge
Envinate, 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 Spain’s Canary Islands to Ribeira Sacra, which is where their Lousas Mencia comes from. Lousas is the local Galician for ‘slate’, with a distinct nod to the slate-driven soils of the region. Several vineyards come together here to produce the Lousas, with each of them being over 60 years old. The wine is technically a blend of Mencia and an array of local varieties to the region, being roughly 90% Mencia. The wine is aged in a combination of barrels and concrete for around a year, and bottled aiming to capture the freshness of the wine with lifted red fruits balanced by a savoury edge.
HERVÉ SOUHAUT VIN DE PAYS
What — Syrah
Where — Rhône Valley, France
When — 2018
“I love the family: they’re making truly amazing wines across the range. They’ve got this incredibly old winery in Ardèche that is awesome to see. The wines they’re producing are really soulful, and delicious examples. For me, I love their approachability when young, but also the fact that they can age so incredibly well. It’s rare to find wines that have such a super youthful drinkability to them that also go the distance with age.“
Character & Tasting Notes — Nuances of bacon fat and violet aromas of Syrah from the Rhône
For over 25 years now, Hervé Souhaut has been producing wines under his eponymous label. Based in the Rhône, his Vin de Pays Syrah comes from a parcel along the Doux River where the vines have an average age of almost 50 years. Long fed-up with wines that take 5 to 10 years to become drinkable, Souhaut’s style is marked by youthful approachability and drinkability. His use of whole bunch fermentation helps to create an overall softer expression of Syrah.