Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

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Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#1 Post by Ian Dorin » November 26th, 2018, 12:58 pm

So refreshing to see this level of honesty, and perspective.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/are-great ... ed-species
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#2 Post by Charlie Carnes » November 26th, 2018, 1:16 pm

Really cool article. Great take. I have had good and bad experiences. There is nothing worse than a Somm with air of superiority, and a list to go with it...
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#3 Post by John S » November 26th, 2018, 1:24 pm

I am biased having been there a ton since their soft open. Bobby and his crew are great. You can tell what a good place it is to work as so many of the staff stay there for a very long time. Others move on to senior positions elsewhere. Wine wise I have always just put myself in their hands. It is clear happy guests are their objective function and what makes them tick. It is great to see good businesses and people do well.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#4 Post by Michael Martin » November 26th, 2018, 1:27 pm

I like Bobby. I've met him a few times at the Little Nell, Frasca and he has a new place in Denver called Tavernetta. https://www.tavernettadenver.com/

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#5 Post by TomHill » November 26th, 2018, 2:46 pm

Ian Dorin wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 12:58 pm
So refreshing to see this level of honesty, and perspective.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/are-great ... ed-species
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#6 Post by kyledorsey » November 26th, 2018, 3:14 pm

Alice has written extensively about the problem of flawed wines getting passed onto people because of their stories. She would be more like Robospierre. Helped start a revolution but watched it run away from her.

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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#7 Post by Brandon R » November 26th, 2018, 3:23 pm

That was a good article. The sad part of it is that I would imagine the majority of the sommeliers he's criticizing will read that article and immediately decry it as a grumpy "old" man who is out of touch with today's wine drinker.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#8 Post by Greg Mitrakas » November 26th, 2018, 3:34 pm

Good article for sure. Bobby is a clear thinking dude. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#9 Post by Chris Blum » November 26th, 2018, 7:37 pm

Good read, thanks
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#10 Post by Kevin Harvey » November 26th, 2018, 7:53 pm

I have never met Bobby Stuckey but I am very impressed with his thoughts. He really nailed it.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#11 Post by larry schaffer » November 26th, 2018, 8:28 pm

I really enjoyed reading this article. Here is a man who knows a bunch about the business, who is still very active in it, who also sells wine and therefore gets to see all angles of it.

So many in our industry - and this happens on the winery side as well - just want to push stuff on their customers without actually finding out what the customer really is interested in. We'd rather sell you than listen to you - and that's just wrong on so many levels . . .

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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#12 Post by RyanC » November 26th, 2018, 8:33 pm

Great article. Frasca is one of my favorite restaurants in the USA.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#13 Post by Arv R » November 26th, 2018, 9:27 pm

Nice story and thanks for sharing.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#14 Post by H Wallace Jr » November 26th, 2018, 9:33 pm

larry schaffer wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 8:28 pm
So many in our industry - and this happens on the winery side as well - just want to push stuff on their customers without actually finding out what the customer really is interested in. We'd rather sell you than listen to you - and that's just wrong on so many levels . . .
So you are going to be switching from Rhone varieties and moving into ultra-premium Pinot Noir, Chard, and Cab at value prices? ;)
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#15 Post by Todd Hamina » November 26th, 2018, 9:38 pm

It's probably just me, but knowing the late Mark Pape, (who was Bobby's mentor at The Little Nell in the early 90's- and then reco'd him for the job). It just rubs me the wrong way when he throws him under the bus in the beginning of the interview. Try for a moment to name an area of the world with all the blue chip wines in the late 80's and early 90's that wasn't a bit sniff.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#16 Post by larry schaffer » November 27th, 2018, 6:48 am

H Wallace Jr wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 9:33 pm
larry schaffer wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 8:28 pm
So many in our industry - and this happens on the winery side as well - just want to push stuff on their customers without actually finding out what the customer really is interested in. We'd rather sell you than listen to you - and that's just wrong on so many levels . . .
So you are going to be switching from Rhone varieties and moving into ultra-premium Pinot Noir, Chard, and Cab at value prices? ;)
Oh you are one funny guy, aren't you?!?!??!

Go into any tasting room or go onto any website and see how wines are described - flavors and aromas, etc. At the end of the day, these are all just 'suggestive measures' to try to entice folks to purchase wines. How many times have you smelled or tasted a wine in a tasting room, looked at the notes that are there to describe the wines, and gone WTF?

Different strokes, my friend . . . and how are your cab sales going? [snort.gif] neener [wow.gif]
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#17 Post by Seth L. » November 27th, 2018, 7:54 am

Brandon R wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 3:23 pm
That was a good article. The sad part of it is that I would imagine the majority of the sommeliers he's criticizing will read that article and immediately decry it as a grumpy "old" man who is out of touch with today's wine drinker.
I think more will read and not see themselves - willfully obtuse -
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#18 Post by David Glasser » November 27th, 2018, 8:39 am

Good article. Stuckey was our somm at Little Nell many years ago. First time I got excited by both what a somm had to say and their recommendation. Ended up with a 1988 La Turque, which was dazzlingly perfect for the occasion.

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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#19 Post by Ian Dorin » November 27th, 2018, 9:49 am

Seth L. wrote:
November 27th, 2018, 7:54 am
Brandon R wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 3:23 pm
That was a good article. The sad part of it is that I would imagine the majority of the sommeliers he's criticizing will read that article and immediately decry it as a grumpy "old" man who is out of touch with today's wine drinker.
I think more will read and not see themselves - willfully obtuse -
Doesn't matter, in either outcome, that's EXACTLY who he is addressing :)

Glad to see so many took the time to read it. I so rarely read interviews like this, but it really took me by surprise how outspoken he was. He clearly is not happy with the state of the union, and speaking out in the wine business hasn't always been met with wide eyed optimism, but this should be a wake up call especially when you consider who conducted the interview too.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#20 Post by Rich Salsano » November 27th, 2018, 1:09 pm

Really enjoyed that. Thanks for sharing Ian.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#21 Post by Joe Chanley » November 28th, 2018, 3:16 am


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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#22 Post by Jim Brennan » November 28th, 2018, 4:38 am

Interesting read, but a bit redundant, as he kept mentioning that same point over and over and over.

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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#23 Post by Doug Schulman » November 30th, 2018, 2:36 pm

kyledorsey wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 3:14 pm
Alice has written extensively about the problem of flawed wines getting passed onto people because of their stories.
Yet she has denied that the problem is as widespread as it is and championed horribly flawed wines herself.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#24 Post by Doug Schulman » November 30th, 2018, 2:43 pm

Ian Dorin wrote:
November 27th, 2018, 9:49 am
Glad to see so many took the time to read it. I so rarely read interviews like this, but it really took me by surprise how outspoken he was. He clearly is not happy with the state of the union, and speaking out in the wine business hasn't always been met with wide eyed optimism, but this should be a wake up call especially when you consider who conducted the interview too.
I agree, although I doubt it will be. Maybe if more people who rightfully command as much respect as he does speak out in this way, some people will start to get it. I will say that I think the article overstates the case a bit. There are still a lot of sommeliers out there who care greatly for their craft and the guest experience. I can understand being frustrated with how widespread hipsterism has become in the business, but I disagree with the implication that most young sommeliers are a part of it. Maybe my view is skewed by the people I happen to interact with.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#25 Post by John Morris » November 30th, 2018, 8:15 pm

kyledorsey wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 3:14 pm
Alice has written extensively about the problem of flawed wines getting passed onto people because of their stories. She would be more like Robospierre. Helped start a revolution but watched it run away from her.
But she singled out this interview as an example of bad wine writing. Go figure.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#26 Post by Ian Dorin » December 1st, 2018, 6:08 am

John Morris wrote:
November 30th, 2018, 8:15 pm
kyledorsey wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 3:14 pm
Alice has written extensively about the problem of flawed wines getting passed onto people because of their stories. She would be more like Robospierre. Helped start a revolution but watched it run away from her.
But she singled out this interview as an example of bad wine writing. Go figure.
I didn't know it elicited a response from her. Can you post it?
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#27 Post by Ian Dorin » December 1st, 2018, 6:09 am

Doug Schulman wrote:
November 30th, 2018, 2:43 pm
Ian Dorin wrote:
November 27th, 2018, 9:49 am
Glad to see so many took the time to read it. I so rarely read interviews like this, but it really took me by surprise how outspoken he was. He clearly is not happy with the state of the union, and speaking out in the wine business hasn't always been met with wide eyed optimism, but this should be a wake up call especially when you consider who conducted the interview too.
I agree, although I doubt it will be. Maybe if more people who rightfully command as much respect as he does speak out in this way, some people will start to get it. I will say that I think the article overstates the case a bit. There are still a lot of sommeliers out there who care greatly for their craft and the guest experience. I can understand being frustrated with how widespread hipsterism has become in the business, but I disagree with the implication that most young sommeliers are a part of it. Maybe my view is skewed by the people I happen to interact with.
To your last part, I have always made point to attach myself to those that I think of are of the highest caliber. I think we are both lucky :)
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#28 Post by John Morris » December 1st, 2018, 6:17 am

Ian Dorin wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 6:08 am
John Morris wrote:
November 30th, 2018, 8:15 pm
kyledorsey wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 3:14 pm
Alice has written extensively about the problem of flawed wines getting passed onto people because of their stories. She would be more like Robospierre. Helped start a revolution but watched it run away from her.
But she singled out this interview as an example of bad wine writing. Go figure.
I didn't know it elicited a response from her. Can you post it?
Someone sent me this post of hers on Facebook. Rereading her post, her complaint seems to be more about the editing than the content or the writing.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#29 Post by Nathan V. » December 1st, 2018, 2:36 pm

John Morris wrote:
November 30th, 2018, 8:15 pm
kyledorsey wrote:
November 26th, 2018, 3:14 pm
Alice has written extensively about the problem of flawed wines getting passed onto people because of their stories. She would be more like Robospierre. Helped start a revolution but watched it run away from her.
But she singled out this interview as an example of bad wine writing. Go figure.
The editing is garbage and I'm not really that interested in the content. I don't know Mr. Stuckey but I believe John S. that he is a great guy, but he's about 20 years too late with this get-off-my-lawn rant. For many people, a point of view from a wine list is more interesting than having the same boring shit. I've found that the sommeliers whom I have had the best experience and whom I respect most haven't taken any tests and hold no certifications. His restaurants might be fine and Little Nell had a great list only because it had everything. Easy to do. I do agree that the type of service may not be what folks are historically used to, it's much more familiar and laid back. What sommeliers do on insta promoting their brand isn't really for us geezers. Daniel is still around, you don't have to go to Wild Air.

The fact of the matter is, making what is commonly termed "natural wine" is difficult. There will be plenty of mistakes. Folks whose wines I dismissed as terrible 10 years ago are now consistently excellent. Methods associated with "natural wine" are now mainstream. Jean-Marie Fourrier uses concrete eggs. Jean-Marc Roulot uses amphorae. Last time I looked, it seemed like the entire Musigny vineyard was plowed by horse. Remember, it's mostly about better farming and less manipulation. These are uniformly good things.

Flawed wine is flawed wine, but remember, there are lots of Rhône and Bordeaux with plenty of brett and many Burgundies that suffer from terminal reduction and Napa cabernet ripe with VA. That's not even getting started on "internationalized" wines in all sorts of places that stripped the wines of any character.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#30 Post by Jayson Cohen » December 1st, 2018, 4:40 pm

John Morris wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 6:17 am
Ian Dorin wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 6:08 am
John Morris wrote:
November 30th, 2018, 8:15 pm


But she singled out this interview as an example of bad wine writing. Go figure.
I didn't know it elicited a response from her. Can you post it?
Someone sent me this post of hers on Facebook. Rereading her post, her complaint seems to be more about the editing than the content or the writing.
This is ironic.

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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#31 Post by Hank Victor » December 2nd, 2018, 10:22 am



Haha this video was created based off the interview.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#32 Post by Nathan V. » December 2nd, 2018, 10:33 am

Jayson Cohen wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 4:40 pm
John Morris wrote:
December 1st, 2018, 6:17 am

Someone sent me this post of hers on Facebook. Rereading her post, her complaint seems to be more about the editing than the content or the writing.
This is ironic.
Quite.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#33 Post by Brian G r a f s t r o m » December 2nd, 2018, 10:47 am

Jim Brennan wrote:
November 28th, 2018, 4:38 am
Interesting read, but a bit redundant, as he kept mentioning that same point over and over and over.
Thanks for posting, Ian. My response is basically an echo of Jim's.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#34 Post by Mel Knox » December 2nd, 2018, 11:00 am

To me a big part of the problem is that somms work long hours and don't get paid that much. So being a somm is a kind of apprenticeship. Maybe some of them party too much but what I see is people who show up to work at 10 am to do inventory and leave at midnight. Most of them are college educated and as soon as marriage and family come into the picture it's all over....unless they can move up the ladder into ownership or move sideways into being brand ambassadors etc. How many well paying jobs are there? Here in SF finding people for restaurants is harder and harder because nobody can afford to live here unless they already own their place or have rent control working for them.

What happens is that the somms move on. Paul Roberts--formerly of Cafe Annie and the French Laundry--is now the gm at Colgin. Raj has his own wineries. Bobby has his restaurants. Larry Stone--Meilleur Sommelier du Monde and mentor to people like Raj--hasn't been a somm for what, 20 years??

The saying of Alice Waters that you need seven years to become a good waiter reminds me of a dinner at Chez Panisse hosted by Randall Grahm, to honor Sally Clarke--famous London restaurateur--and Jasper Morris, who now runs the Hospices de Beaune auction. I was sitting next to Sally's maitre d, when the waiter spilled water onto his plate.
The guy lifts the plate, pours the water off, puts the plate down and says to us, Shit happens.

I guess it was only his sixth year.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#35 Post by A.Gillette » December 2nd, 2018, 5:00 pm

Last night my wife and I had dinner at Aska in Brooklyn. The wines list is heavily natural (with a few notable exceptions, for example some Egon Muller wines) and pretty much all small production with many esoteric choices. I’m pretty daring and I like trying new things, and while I’d tried many of the wines on the menu many were new to me. However, given the wines that I knew on the list I was pretty sure I was better off bringing wine. At this point I’ve been able to try enough that I feel confident in my own preferences (and my wife’s) and I knew I was going to have a hard time with the list. I appreciate the thought that went into it, and I have no doubt that whoever put the list together did so in an effort to create the best possible experience for guests, but there was much on the list that I didn’t have any interest in drinking and others (Lauer and D’Angerville) that I love but didn’t want to pay the markup for.

Despite all that, I found the experience to be about the most hospitable and wonderful from a service perspective that I’ve had in New York (really anywhere I suppose). They sent me the list in advance, answered questions, allowed corkage, and gave phenomenal service for the wines I brought, including a choice of glasses and all the right questions about how/when to serve. Everyone at the restaurant was not just professional but fun and gracious and they treated us like they were thrilled to have us. They were great.

I mention this because I think that a really good somm and a really good restaurant staff strike me as being able to make a guest feel great even when they might have preferences that are different than those that are at the core of the restaurant’s mission. And from my perspective, I’m no less comfortable the list from Aska than I am with a wine list full of high-priced classified Bordeaux chateau and big name Cali wines. I think Bobby’s position is a little unimaginative. The wine list is the wine list. Taking good care of the guest is something else entirely.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#36 Post by Ian Dorin » December 3rd, 2018, 10:28 am

A.Gillette wrote:
December 2nd, 2018, 5:00 pm
Last night my wife and I had dinner at Aska in Brooklyn. The wines list is heavily natural (with a few notable exceptions, for example some Egon Muller wines) and pretty much all small production with many esoteric choices. I’m pretty daring and I like trying new things, and while I’d tried many of the wines on the menu many were new to me. However, given the wines that I knew on the list I was pretty sure I was better off bringing wine. At this point I’ve been able to try enough that I feel confident in my own preferences (and my wife’s) and I knew I was going to have a hard time with the list. I appreciate the thought that went into it, and I have no doubt that whoever put the list together did so in an effort to create the best possible experience for guests, but there was much on the list that I didn’t have any interest in drinking and others (Lauer and D’Angerville) that I love but didn’t want to pay the markup for.

Despite all that, I found the experience to be about the most hospitable and wonderful from a service perspective that I’ve had in New York (really anywhere I suppose). They sent me the list in advance, answered questions, allowed corkage, and gave phenomenal service for the wines I brought, including a choice of glasses and all the right questions about how/when to serve. Everyone at the restaurant was not just professional but fun and gracious and they treated us like they were thrilled to have us. They were great.

I mention this because I think that a really good somm and a really good restaurant staff strike me as being able to make a guest feel great even when they might have preferences that are different than those that are at the core of the restaurant’s mission. And from my perspective, I’m no less comfortable the list from Aska than I am with a wine list full of high-priced classified Bordeaux chateau and big name Cali wines. I think Bobby’s position is a little unimaginative. The wine list is the wine list. Taking good care of the guest is something else entirely.
AG
The service may have been great, but you still had to bring your own wine since the list didn't cater to you. I think Bobby was trying to paint a complete picture. I'm sure there are plenty of places where you could have had the opposite experience- insane list, lackluster service.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#37 Post by Brandon Tebbe » December 3rd, 2018, 4:32 pm

I think Bobby nails it in this article. When mentoring Sommeliers now the biggest challenge I face is instilling in them that the list is not suppose to be a reflection of what they like or do not like. You curate a list based on the demographic you sell to, and based on the “vision” Of the program and restaurant.
And Sommeliers today are in a rush to get the “pins.” I’m not sure how many times I have to repeat to them that it is not about the pin! It’s the journey, the time and dedication to studying, to learning, to networking, Tasting, sharing and understanding Hospitality. Not service, but Hospitality. See Bobby Stuckey’s TED Talk via YouTube if you are unsure of the difference. Bobby is truly a Master in the art of Hospitality.

And I agree completely with Bobby that it is only once you have passed the Advance exam that you have achieved the level of knowledge and experience to understand and fulfill the role of a true Sommelier. And I’ll just put a stop to the idea that certifications are pointless. They are essential in providing a means to educate Sommeliers. There is a reason so many give up after not being able to pass their Advance exam, and then join the camp of anti-certification. It’s because it is really HARD, and takes dedication, long hours of study, requires you to taste and taste and taste….and to learn hospitality and humility. I’m not going to debate it, as I have lived it, paid my dues, continue to pay my dues, and have over two decades restaurant and have over a decade of experience working the floor and mentoring Sommeliers. Honestly (and this is solely my opinion), I think every aspiring Master Sommelier should be required to work a full harvest, from picking and sorting, to doing punch downs and pressing, to barreling down, inoculating, topping up and bottling….oh the glorious bottling line 😳. It gives you an entirely different perspective to physically make wine with your own hands, from vine to bottle.
You also become more aware of the faults in Winemaking, and you begin to appreciate the people that make it…much more and on a very different level of respect.

While I agree with Bobby that “natural wines” in the sense of the styles of Radikon, Gravner, or Valdipovic are simply part of a movement passing off faulted wines with a story....I hope to redefine “natural” wine in my interactions on the floor and with my own wines. For me there is a clear distinction between “natural” wine, making wine naturally, and manufacturing wine. Quality is found in the middle. For me it’s just as shocking to open a faulted “natural” wine, as it is to try six single vineyard Pinot Noirs that were inoculated with the same yeasts, pumped full of the same recipe of adds, and all taste the same.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#38 Post by larry schaffer » December 3rd, 2018, 6:32 pm

Brandon Tebbe wrote:
December 3rd, 2018, 4:32 pm
I think Bobby nails it in this article. When mentoring Sommeliers now the biggest challenge I face is instilling in them that the list is not suppose to be a reflection of what they like or do not like. You curate a list based on the demographic you sell to, and based on the “vision” Of the program and restaurant.
And Sommeliers today are in a rush to get the “pins.” I’m not sure how many times I have to repeat to them that it is not about the pin! It’s the journey, the time and dedication to studying, to learning, to networking, Tasting, sharing and understanding Hospitality. Not service, but Hospitality. See Bobby Stuckey’s TED Talk via YouTube if you are unsure of the difference. Bobby is truly a Master in the art of Hospitality.

And I agree completely with Bobby that it is only once you have passed the Advance exam that you have achieved the level of knowledge and experience to understand and fulfill the role of a true Sommelier. And I’ll just put a stop to the idea that certifications are pointless. They are essential in providing a means to educate Sommeliers. There is a reason so many give up after not being able to pass their Advance exam, and then join the camp of anti-certification. It’s because it is really HARD, and takes dedication, long hours of study, requires you to taste and taste and taste….and to learn hospitality and humility. I’m not going to debate it, as I have lived it, paid my dues, continue to pay my dues, and have over two decades restaurant and have over a decade of experience working the floor and mentoring Sommeliers. Honestly (and this is solely my opinion), I think every aspiring Master Sommelier should be required to work a full harvest, from picking and sorting, to doing punch downs and pressing, to barreling down, inoculating, topping up and bottling….oh the glorious bottling line 😳. It gives you an entirely different perspective to physically make wine with your own hands, from vine to bottle.
You also become more aware of the faults in Winemaking, and you begin to appreciate the people that make it…much more and on a very different level of respect.

While I agree with Bobby that “natural wines” in the sense of the styles of Radikon, Gravner, or Valdipovic are simply part of a movement passing off faulted wines with a story....I hope to redefine “natural” wine in my interactions on the floor and with my own wines. For me there is a clear distinction between “natural” wine, making wine naturally, and manufacturing wine. Quality is found in the middle. For me it’s just as shocking to open a faulted “natural” wine, as it is to try six single vineyard Pinot Noirs that were inoculated with the same yeasts, pumped full of the same recipe of adds, and all taste the same.
Brandon,

First off, welcome to the board! Second, are you ITB? If so, please add that to your signature - it's the courteous thing to do.

Plenty of Somms do make wine - or lend their names to wine. It's a great move for them - somehow their wines seem to make it onto more lists than others [snort.gif] I'm not sure it's 'necessary' for them to work a harvest - just as it's not 'necessary' for winemakers to work the floor in a restaurant. But it couldn't hurt.

I do want to 'counter' the concept of your last sentence - just because you inoculate with the same yeast does NOT mean that the final wine will be the same . . . just as if you ferment the same grapes with 'native' yeast 10 times, you will not end up with the same wine. Yeast has a job to do - take it from grape to finished wine - and the 'characteristics' of a wine are not defined by a yeast, whether it is a 'commercial' one or a 'natural' one.

Cheers.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#39 Post by Brandon Tebbe » December 3rd, 2018, 10:57 pm

Larry,

Having worked on both sides now, I have found that there are huge misunderstandings and generalizations made on both sides. I honestly believe our business as a whole would benefit from a bit of first hand experience for both of the others actual work.

And we’ll have to agree to disagree on yeasts. Inoculating definitely takes away from the indigenous character of the grape. Terroir is not just geological, but microbial. This is of course, just my opinion.
However, not my opinion...but fact, is that you can choose yeasts that express certain characters, that dominate with certain aromas. This does take away from the sense of place. I’m not saying these wines are inferior, but they lack balance. They give this sense of being forced into something they are not.

Oddly, six months ago I was completely against the idea of making wine naturally. Now having first hand experience, I cannot imagine inoculating for fermentation or MLF. I definitely cannot imagine pumping in “adds” that completely change the wine.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#40 Post by larry schaffer » December 4th, 2018, 6:48 am

Brandon,

Thanks for your reply and your new signature.

I understand what you are saying, and certainly if you analyze wines immediately after fermentation is complete ordering fermentation with a microscope, you will see my new differences in activity.

The real question is whether or not these Carrie 4th all the way through elevage Kama especially if a wine is aged in any kind of vessel that allows for any kind of oxidation. Overtime, any differences will be minimized.

Yes, the commercial yeast companies tout that their specific yeast will add this or that to a wine, but in reality, I have not seen this play out in finished wines. And that is really the key - looking at things down the line, not immediately after fermentation is complete.

Again, your mileage may vary, and I understand where you're coming from philosophically - I completely agree that less is more when it comes to wine making. That said, I'm just not sure that the science that is out their backs your claims.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#41 Post by ryancurry » December 4th, 2018, 8:38 am

Brandon Tebbe wrote:
December 3rd, 2018, 4:32 pm
I think Bobby nails it in this article. When mentoring Sommeliers now the biggest challenge I face is instilling in them that the list is not suppose to be a reflection of what they like or do not like. You curate a list based on the demographic you sell to, and based on the “vision” Of the program and restaurant.
And Sommeliers today are in a rush to get the “pins.” I’m not sure how many times I have to repeat to them that it is not about the pin! It’s the journey, the time and dedication to studying, to learning, to networking, Tasting, sharing and understanding Hospitality. Not service, but Hospitality. See Bobby Stuckey’s TED Talk via YouTube if you are unsure of the difference. Bobby is truly a Master in the art of Hospitality.

And I agree completely with Bobby that it is only once you have passed the Advance exam that you have achieved the level of knowledge and experience to understand and fulfill the role of a true Sommelier. And I’ll just put a stop to the idea that certifications are pointless. They are essential in providing a means to educate Sommeliers. There is a reason so many give up after not being able to pass their Advance exam, and then join the camp of anti-certification. It’s because it is really HARD, and takes dedication, long hours of study, requires you to taste and taste and taste….and to learn hospitality and humility. I’m not going to debate it, as I have lived it, paid my dues, continue to pay my dues, and have over two decades restaurant and have over a decade of experience working the floor and mentoring Sommeliers. Honestly (and this is solely my opinion), I think every aspiring Master Sommelier should be required to work a full harvest, from picking and sorting, to doing punch downs and pressing, to barreling down, inoculating, topping up and bottling….oh the glorious bottling line 😳. It gives you an entirely different perspective to physically make wine with your own hands, from vine to bottle.
You also become more aware of the faults in Winemaking, and you begin to appreciate the people that make it…much more and on a very different level of respect.

While I agree with Bobby that “natural wines” in the sense of the styles of Radikon, Gravner, or Valdipovic are simply part of a movement passing off faulted wines with a story....I hope to redefine “natural” wine in my interactions on the floor and with my own wines. For me there is a clear distinction between “natural” wine, making wine naturally, and manufacturing wine. Quality is found in the middle. For me it’s just as shocking to open a faulted “natural” wine, as it is to try six single vineyard Pinot Noirs that were inoculated with the same yeasts, pumped full of the same recipe of adds, and all taste the same.

Funny that I was introduced the the wines of Gravner and Radikon at Bobby's restaurant Frasca. Gravner Ribolla Gialla and Miani Sauvignon were served at my college graduation dinner there a million years ago. I have a lot of respect for Bobby. I was a young college student when I started going into his restaurant to sit at the bar and taste through his btg selections. Bobby and Danny Meyer are the two hospitality professionals that have deeply impressed me.

I'm not anti-certification by any means, but to claim that you can only be a real sommelier by passing the CMS Advanced is asinine. There are other courses of study that are effective and there are people that have mentors. In my mind, the best overall sommelier/wine professional in Los Angeles is Taylor Parsons. I don't believe he did anything with the CMS.

Master Sommeliers claiming that you have to go through the CMS to be a real sommelier will always sound self serving....because it is.
Last edited by ryancurry on December 4th, 2018, 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#42 Post by larry schaffer » December 4th, 2018, 8:45 am

Ryan,

I'm curious to get your opinion on something - from your perspective, what are three things that set a 'fantastic' somm apart from all others? I am guessing, and I could be wrong, that their ability to taste blind is not one of them. It is an interesting skill to possess, but . . .

Cheers.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#43 Post by Ian Brand » December 4th, 2018, 9:06 am

Brandon Tebbe wrote:
December 3rd, 2018, 10:57 pm

Terroir is not just geological, but microbial.

I definitely cannot imagine pumping in “adds” that completely change the wine.
Brandon, so are you operating in your own facility? How near is your facility to your grapes? I think the effect of yeast inocula is overstated because of the dramatic effect of 'aromatic yeasts' on esters and how the wine shows early in its life. After a few years in bottle, that effect subsides dramatically. It's also a sliding scale because a) some yeasts have a more dramatic effect than others b) some musts get 'cleaned' more heavily than others before inoculation c) the presence of other adds (i.e. winemakers who inoculate I assume are also more prone to use other parts of the toolbox, like enzymes, oak additives, and to pick riper). The biggest difference I see between native fermentations and inoculated fermentations three years on is in magnitude of aromatics and textures, and I think that's mostly traceable to VA levels. There are subtle differences in composition and complexity, but they're hardly enough to wage a holy war over. The biggest difference is skill and sourcing, but those are much more difficult concepts to explain and require a wider knowledge of the world of wine, something like one might get in studying for the advanced sommelier exam... similarly, don't make assumptions about what you know in the winery after a couple of vintages. It's a little more nuanced than that.
Remember that saccharomyces is very sensitive to sunlight and exists in extremely small quantities in the vineyard, but is airborne and persists on all kinds of surfaces in damp, dark, sugar rich environs. Most of the microbial terroir in a fermentation, spontateous or not, happens in the first few days of activity. Not as fun as fist pumping to your favorite natty jam, I know.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#44 Post by larry schaffer » December 4th, 2018, 9:15 am

Ian,

Thanks for piping in here. I understand the concept of wanting to believe that 'native yeasts' really do 'make' a wine unique, but after having made wine for a dozen years now (I know, not as long as you, but still awhile), it is clear that the role yeast play is so minimal in the overall picture of a finished wine. Yep, as you stated, it may seem 'more important' early in the life of a wine, especially during fermentation and just after pressing, but give it time and there's no way one can distinguish a wine made with one yeast over another. Not even an MS (and please don't take offense, Brandon - just jabbing you champagne.gif )

Cheers.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#45 Post by Ian Dorin » December 4th, 2018, 9:37 am

larry schaffer wrote:
December 4th, 2018, 9:15 am
Ian,

Thanks for piping in here. I understand the concept of wanting to believe that 'native yeasts' really do 'make' a wine unique, but after having made wine for a dozen years now (I know, not as long as you, but still awhile), it is clear that the role yeast play is so minimal in the overall picture of a finished wine. Yep, as you stated, it may seem 'more important' early in the life of a wine, especially during fermentation and just after pressing, but give it time and there's no way one can distinguish a wine made with one yeast over another. Not even an MS (and please don't take offense, Brandon - just jabbing you champagne.gif )

Cheers.
Can the 4 of you stop geeking this up? champagne.gif

Brandon, great of you to join us. Tremendous insights.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#46 Post by Mike Cohen » December 4th, 2018, 9:53 am

I'll drop the geek level down several notches. Just give me a somm who can speak knowledgeably about the list without making me feel uncomfortable (either thru arrogance, snobbery, or trying to upsell) and I'm pretty happy. To me, the wine staff at Charlie Bird is the perfect mix of what I'm looking for.

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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#47 Post by GregP » December 4th, 2018, 1:57 pm

Brandon Tebbe wrote:
December 3rd, 2018, 4:32 pm
While I agree with Bobby that “natural wines” in the sense of the styles of Radikon, Gravner, or Valdipovic are simply part of a movement passing off faulted wines with a story....I hope to redefine “natural” wine in my interactions on the floor and with my own wines. For me there is a clear distinction between “natural” wine, making wine naturally, and manufacturing wine. Quality is found in the middle. For me it’s just as shocking to open a faulted “natural” wine, as it is to try six single vineyard Pinot Noirs that were inoculated with the same yeasts, pumped full of the same recipe of adds, and all taste the same.
Brandon,

First off, welcome to the board!

Can you please clarify what "... pumped full of the same recipe of adds..." means, to you. You make an implication, of sorts, at least in my mind. Save for SO2 to keep wine healthy and clean, and sometimes yeast when one chooses to forgo native, what other "FULL RECIPE of adds" are you talking about?

I seriously doubt your "as it is to try six single vineyard Pinot Noirs that were inoculated with the same yeasts, pumped full of the same recipe of adds, and all taste the same." take, I have yet to taste 6 Pinots from different producers made from same vineyard that show the same. Not only particular clones used and ratios, but pick date, yeast/native, how long a cold soak, kind of press used (yes, it matters IMO), number of punch downs, barrels, etc, etc, etc. They should show family resemblance being from same vineyard/clones, have no idea why someone would even suggest they should not, but in the end they are all, always and with no exceptions, different wines, nose and palate.

Cannot comprehend why my wine tasting and drinking experience differs so vastly from yours. I don't know, let's take a large enough vineyard where we can have a multitude of producers, better one with a limited clonal selection to level out variables, Pisoni is perfect here. Are you claiming that Pisoni Estate smells and tastes same as Siduri, Arcadian, ROAR, Miura, and others? Not sure what exactly you are saying in your post, nor what was the intent. They all taste the same to YOU? And you are a somm? 2BC is very consistent, batch to batch, but something tells me its not what you drink nor serve your customers.

This is another eye opener, not that Somm 1 wasn't already for me. Is this part of the study and exam cert, that's what you teach your guys, "full recipe of adds"? No wonder I have so much difficulty buying anything off of restaurant list lately. Oh, well.

I do agree with Larry above, though, "strange", to put it mildly, when somm based/related wine makes it so easily onto other somms' lists. Same somms who before always insisted that New World wine profiles somehow just do not fit their food program (made, of course, from USA grown ingredients in American kitchens, but then not called "New World Italian Restaurant"). But, voila, all of a sudden they taste great, great I tell you!, even though they are made from same vineyards and same grapes as wines with no somm connections do. Care to explain this dychotomy of such miraculous "seeing the light" as long as a somm is somehow is involved? So, is it really "what" or "WHO" that makes so much difference, overnight, or are you saying you guys do not use "the "full recipe"? Rhetorical, sorry.

There is a huge, humongous! really, chasm between book knowledge and actual hands on experience. Shame that most somms are guided by rather rudimentary book knowledge and a huge dose of "look at me" attitude that makes for a disservice to paying customer.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#48 Post by larry schaffer » December 4th, 2018, 2:14 pm

One other note here - and not to get too 'geeky' - but based on the experiences in my tasting room, it is obvious that plenty of wineries out there, including smaller, more boutique ones, make a series of wines that are not dissimilar enough to keep folks' attention. One of the 'compliments' I constantly get is that my wines are all 'so different' . . . shouldn't that be the case?

To me, this has more to do with oak treatment and picking decisions than anything else. There is no doubt that certain wineries use a decent amount of new oak - nowadays, wineries are constantly saying that they are 'cutting back', but many that I know continue to use at least 25-33%, and a good chunk of the other barrels used are once used, which still pack PLENTY of new oak fervor.

Just another data point here . . .

Cheers.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#49 Post by GregP » December 4th, 2018, 2:28 pm

I have no idea how anyone, let alone a somm, can state that 6 different producers' wines all taste the same. Mind boggling, really. I am also sure that Raj' and Larry's wines never do, because, you know, Raj and Larry!, no full recipe adds and all that assumed and imagined stuff that others do. Don't care how often somms repeat this among themselves, doesn't make it true, especially when 90% of them never stepped foot in the winery during crush. But, yeah, let's read some books and repeat the mantra.

True story. 1975, Newtown HS, Queens, NY. Economics class.
Teacher: Today we will cover communism and USSR. Primary feature of communism and USSR is there is no private property.
I, raising hand: Sorry, but there is private property in Soviet Union.
Teacher: No, there is not.
I: Well, I just immigrated from there 2 years ago and I can assure you there is private property, not much, but there is, definintely.
Teacher, sternly: The book says there is no private property, end of discussion.
I: Got it!

Books don't lie.
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Re: Incredible interview with Bobby Stuckey

#50 Post by larry schaffer » December 4th, 2018, 6:32 pm

GregP wrote:
December 4th, 2018, 2:28 pm
I have no idea how anyone, let alone a somm, can state that 6 different producers' wines all taste the same. Mind boggling, really. I am also sure that Raj' and Larry's wines never do, because, you know, Raj and Larry! . . .
Greg,

So interesting - I've never had my wines mentioned side by side with Raj [snort.gif] champagne.gif

And looking forward to seeing you once again in February at Falltacular - and can't wait to taste your latest wines!!!

Cheers!
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