Describe your wine list at Taku
It definitely comes down to personal preferences, philosophy and what flavours you’re pairing them with. All those factors heavily influence what wine is paired. Sushi is all about the delicate balance between vinegar and salt, that’s why there are fewer Rieslings than I would like on our menu
Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters?
I once watched one of our most expensive bottles of sake dropped in front of me. 1.8 litres of Sake spilt and around £1,000 lost.
Name your top three restaurant wine lists
Les 110 Taillevent in Paris has one of the best wine lists I’ve experienced. I also like Noize in Fitzrovia here in London, they have a great selection of the highest quality wine at a reasonable price point.
Who do you most respect in the wine world?
In terms of white wine, I would say Jancis Robinson has the most relevant tasting notes. However, Jasper Morris takes the cake in terms of Burgundy, which we feature almost exclusively at Taku. Overall, I think Jeff Leve has the best and most relevant tasting notes.
What’s the most interesting wine you’ve come across recently?
A 1984 Hermitage Blanc, Jean-Louis Chave. I went into it with low hopes but it ended up being a brilliant wine.
What are the three most overused tasting notes?
I can think of only one and that would have to be 'minerality'.
What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?
Guillaume S. Selosse Largillier Extra Brut or the Grosset Polish Hill Riesling. Selosse needs no explanation and Grosset is one of my favourite producers from the New World whose wine is still affordable.
What is your ultimate food and drink match?
I am not a huge believer in an ‘ultimate’ food and drink pairing. But in terms of my tastes I would say sweet wine and blue cheese, such as well-aged ports with sweet gorgonzola, or even better, sake with cheese! Hanahato Kijoshu and cheese is a life-changing experience.
Old World or New World?
Depends who’s paying!
What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
Working on the floor is taxing, and as a sommelier, I do not wish to make their work any hard than it already is. So no, I do not have any pet peeves.
Who is your favourite producer right now?
Weingut Keller is a German producer. Their Riesling’s intensity and length is unmatched in the wine industry. They however do command ultra-premium price for Rieslings. Wittmann and Donhoff are close in quality but way more affordable.
As a sommelier, what question do you most get asked by customers?
A lot of guests ask me to suggest a bottle that pairs well with the food here. I curated the whole list and, honestly, they all pair well with the menu.
Which wine producing region or country is underrated at the moment?
Germany is consistently producing some of the highest quality white wine at the moment. It is highly-rated yet still affordable, almost too affordable.
It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
It would have to be Weigut Keller G-Max Riesling. It isn’t something I would drink every day but I love the producer.