Our Sommelier of the month for June 2017 are Anthony Davies & Zoë Fisher at The Grape Escape Wine Bar & Merchant. Anthony and Zoë have very kindly answered a selection of questions which are below along with their response.
How did you get into the wine industry?
We’ve been lucky enough to eat in some fantastic restaurants throughout the UK and abroad and would quite often choose the tasting menu with matching wines. Gradually, the wine became as important as the food if not more; we started spending our Saturdays in wine bars, dreaming of opening our own. At the end of 2014 we sold our house, gave up our jobs (Zo – English Teacher, Ant – Marketing) and opened The Grape Escape. We searched for suppliers who imported our favourite wines from our various holidays (always wine related!) and went from there.
Why do you enjoy using Riedel glassware within your hotel/restaurant?
Simply, great wines deserve great glassware! We have always used Riedel glassware at home and saw it as a sign of quality when wine bars we visited served their wine in Riedel. Our customers frequently tell us how much they appreciate our glasses with one woman even commenting ‘If I didn’t love this bar so much this water glass would be coming home with me!’
What’s been your biggest ‘wine’ faux pas?
We held a tasting at the bar recently hosted by Konstantin Guntrum of Weingut Louis Guntrum; the labels on the bottles are all rather similar and Ant ended up serving two of the wines in the wrong order. Luckily for us, one of our more astute customers noticed and we were able to rectify the situation. Konstantin didn’t seem to mind too much - he was still happy to pour the couple of bottles of 1976 Spätlese he had brought with him in his suitcase!
What’s been the best wine moment in your career?
Our first birthday coincided with the 40th anniversary of ‘The Judgment of Paris’ so we hosted our very own ‘Judgement of Cheltenham’ to celebrate. As well as pitting each side of the Atlantic against each other to discover the best Chardonnay and Bordeaux blends, we also added an extra round for Pinot Noir, which proved to be a great call as Joseph Swan’s fabulous Trenton Estate 2011 was voted wine of the night. California won all three rounds by small margins, by the way.
What’s your favourite wine that you are currently serving?
We were quite upset when Randall Grahm decided to sell off his Albariño vineyard and were delighted to come across Marimar Estate’s ‘Don Miguel Vineyard’ Albarińo as a more than adequate replacement. We love Chris Brockway’s wines at Broc Cellars, his 2015 Vine Starr Zinfandel is an absolute stunner. Recently we have been really enjoying wines from other parts of the US, Gramercy Cellars in Washington State and Red Hook in Brooklyn being two of our favourites. Outside of America we are loving wines from Vinteloper from Adelaide Hills, Judith Beck in Burgenland and Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein in the Mosel.