5 Wines Sommelier Marcus Slosek Is Drinking at Home
The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay Somm has given us a marvelous — and pretty reasonably priced — wine-centric bucket list
Sommelier Marcus Slosek feels transformed for a moment when he takes a sip of wine. “I can taste and smell the soil and the sun along with the passion and hard work that it took to create this,” he says. “I also know there’s a story behind all of this. History and politics have impacted every wine I drink.”
These days, Slosek is a sommelier at Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, where he oversees a wine program that includes over 3,000 bottles. That career direction wasn’t always assured: He started college as a business major, switching later to dietetics. In his spare time he started learning more about wine, mostly as a hobby. “I thought the study of wine would complement my education about food and nutrition,” says Slosek, who credits a stint working alongside a sommelier at a Michelin-starred restaurant for his success. “He took me under his wing and helped me to study for the Court of Masters Sommeliers exams,” he says. After two years working to reach Level 2, Slosek hopes to take the exam for Level 3 next year.
All in all, few people are better positioned to suggest a few bottles for drinking at home. Here’s what he’s pouring:
“Champagne is my favorite wine. It pairs well with anything. And the Pierre Péters Cuvee de Reserve Blanc de Blancs is excellent.” Pierre Péters is a sixth-generation Champagne house in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, in the northeast of France, known for its range of Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay wines. This is the most expensive wine on the list at $60, but Slosek — who describes it as light and bright and mineral-driven — says it’s worth it: “It always puts me in a good mood.”
When asked about food pairings, Slosek says, “While Champagne is known for its ‘high-brow’ pairings like caviar and lobster, it goes equally well with more ‘low-brow’ foods like fried chicken. It’s even a great wine to drink all by itself.”
Combining his love of Champagne with the selection of a local winery, Slosek’s second choice is Rhys Mt. Pajaro Vineyard Vintage Blanc des Blancs. Winemaker Rodolphe Peters hails from Champagne, where he gained years of experience blending world-class wines. He agreed to collaborate with Rhys, combining French techniques and Californian grapes — to excellent results according to Slosek, who says this is one of the best sparkling wines in the world. Only a small amount is made each year, typically about 130 cases. And, he says, the $45 price is quite reasonable given the quality of the wine.
“This sparkling wine pairs nicely with roasted chicken and even oysters,” Slosek says. “But like Champagne, it’s also great to drink by itself.”
Envínate is the brainchild of four college friends, who focus on producing wines with minimal intervention from western Spain, including the Canary Islands and Galicia. That geography is part of what drew Slosek to the wine: “Located on the island of Tenerife – part of the Canary Islands and just off the coast of Morocco — is Envínate,” he says. “The vines are planted right next to the Atlantic Ocean, and you can taste the sea spray and salinity in the wine. There’s a pronounced minerality along with citrus notes.”
Wines grown next to the ocean pair beautifully with grilled fish and seafood like uni or crab. This wine sells for around $35 a bottle.
Slosek admits that Riesling gets a bad rap. Many people assume it’s overly sweet — but, he says, that’s not the case with Keller “Limestone” Riesling. “This wine tastes like lime and tangerine,” he says. “It has just a touch of sweetness. It’s also beautiful on the nose and has a great texture.” One of the best features is the $35 price tag for their basic-label; this winery is well known for other Rieslings that cost thousands of dollars a bottle.
Slosek recommends pairing this wine with spicy Indian food, baba ganoush, or a salad with radish and pumpkin seeds.
“I tend to prefer white wines, but Beaujolais is a lighter red wine, so I really enjoy it,” Slosek says. “As an added benefit, it’s also reasonably priced at around $38.” This single vineyard wine is made from Gamay grapes, a variety famous for producing the light, fruit-driven red wines of the region. Winemaker Jean Foillard is known as an icon of Beaujolais; his vineyards are planted on the Cote du Py, a slope outside the town of Villié-Morgan, in the eastern center of France.
Slosek describes this wine as having a bigger mouthfeel, a little peppery and earthy with smoky dark cherries. Pair this wine with seared tuna, sushi and roasted chicken. Slosek says he first enjoyed it with squab marinated in a cherry compote — a highly recommendable combination.
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