What is the most rewarding aspect to your work at Inglenook?
There are many rewarding aspects at work for me at Inglenook. It would be hard to choose just one. I work for Francis Ford Coppola, who is a world-renowned artist and sees the big picture about the estate, who has spent more than 4 decades (and a fortune) restoring a historic property. Our winemaker, Philippe Bascaules (formally of Château Margaux) has a great mind to pick about winemaking philosophies. It is also an absolute honor to tell our guests visiting us at Inglenook about the legendary history of the Château, the successes that have happened at our estate and tell the story of 3 great men; Gustave Niebaum, John Daniel Jr. and Francis Ford Coppola.
From a wine geek’s point of view, I love to see the expression of people’s faces when I tell them that we have our own special heritage clone of Cabernet Sauvignon that is technically called “Clone FPS 29” or more lovingly called “the Niebaum-Coppola clone”. It’s amazing to see the reaction to people’s faces when you tell them that they are standing inside one of Napa’s original gravity flow wineries dating back to 1887, the property being founded in 1879. The history is amazing but the wines tell the real story of why I am working at this legendary estate. The balance, finesse, complexity and longevity of these beautiful wines, really leave me breathless. Every day, when I open up a new set of bottles to show my guests what our vision is at Inglenook, it is my duty to sample the bottles, ensuring the quality and correctness of each bottle. That too, is a reward in itself!
In your opinion what are some of the most under appreciated wine regions?
Where do I begin? I have always been a devout lover of Spanish wines. I drink more Sherry and Rioja than anyone else I know. If you systematically build a graph of quality versus price, you will find, in general, Spanish Wines are really under appreciated for how long they have been around. Another great wine producing area, that I think is really under appreciated, is Washington State. I cannot express enough how much I love the wines of Washington! There is so much diversity to be found in Washington State. I say this to you, as I am in my home in Napa, California, studying towards the Advanced Sommelier Exam & WSET Diploma & CWE exams. Come on, it’s time to really explore the wines of Washington! Other old world under appreciated wine regions include Greece, Georgia, Slovenia, Portugal and Croatia. I really do hope to see more of these amazing wines ending up on wine lists around the world. It takes a very mindful Sommelier to reach beyond the norm to place any one of these regions on the wine list to pair with the cuisine of their restaurant. My other hope is for guests to be more open-minded and take the journey with the sommelier and to experience something new and exciting.
What new developments in wine should sommeliers look out for?
Wow, there are so many new developments in wine; it’s hard to keep up sometimes. One of the new trends that I’ve been tracking for the last decade is “local food and local wine” in America. I think the next wave of the future will be consuming local wine from the state that you live in. Every state in the US makes wine. Just take a moment to think about that. When was the last time you tried a bottle of wine from the state that you live in….at your local restaurant? When was the last time you saw a local wine on a wine list? Obviously, this is really easy for anyone living on the West coast to say, but seriously!? Supporting local is always a good thing to do. It supports the local economy, it supports local growth, it supports families in your community that makes a direct impact on YOU! Another new development in the world of wine is being sustainable and reducing your carbon footprint. I think wine on tap, has huge potential. It reduces glass and keeps the wine fresher, longer and minimizes waste for the business, allowing a fresher expression of wine to sell to your guests. It’s a good idea. My hope for the future is that more wineries catch on and begin to take notice and follow suit.
You’re also a certified sake advisor; do you feel a sake culture is finally blossoming here in the U.S.?This is such an awesome question! YES! I feel that sake is finally broken through the mainstream in America and is finally found a spot at the dinner table. More and more I see wine lists around America, incorporating sake into the tasting programs and glass menus. Sake is a truly versatile beverage to be enjoyed and consumed with a wide variety of dishes. My favorite chef in Phoenix, Arizona, Chef Mark Tarbell helped me to better understand sake. Paring Mediterranean food with sake, sounds a little daring, but it totally works.
Master Sake Sommelier, Toshio Ueno taught us firsthand about sake. If you don’t know Toshio Ueno, he is like the equivalent to Fred Dame Master Sommelier, but is all about sake. With the success of the Sake School of America and the WSET Sake Course, it really shows that the sake culture is finally blossoming here in the U.S. I mean, do you really want to drink a big, full-bodied Cab with miso soup? Why can’t a nice glass of chilled sake, with a kiss of sweetness, work with a lobster taco? It is time to seriously consider sake for beverage programs across the U.S.
Learn more about WINE EDUCATOR ANTHONY MUELLER at his Somm’s List Profile HERE.