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Mark Eberwein on 3 Sommelier Favorites

Mark Eberwein

Photo by Mark Maziarz

Mark Eberwein, wine guru of the St. Regis Deer Valley resort, picks three of his favorite spots for fabulous wine (and food).

Mark Eberwein had spent less than a year in Park City, Utah, as the director of food and beverage at the St. Regis Deer Valley resort when Food & Wine named him one of the top sommeliers of 2011. Building and maintaining the upscale ski resort’s 12,000-bottle cellar is a particular challenge in Utah, where all wine sales must funnel through the state liquor authority. But Eberwein has managed to do just that, creating a wine list that’s equal to the refined American menu at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s elegant but cozy J & G Grill. After a day on the slopes (with cosseting service from the St. Regis’ ski valets) and a massage at the airy Remède Spa, it’s hard to beat the Clark’s Farm lamb chops paired with a bottle of Robert Sinskey’s POV at the J & G Grill.

Eberwein learned his craft at Rancho Bernardo Inn’s El Bizcocho in San Diego, but he says he’s been collecting wine memories all around the world, from glasses enjoyed on a balcony at the Lemonthyme Resort in Tasmania, Australia, to those savored on summer evening hikes above Utah’s Provo River Falls. “My best wine-drinking experiences have always happened when I was with my best friends,” he says. When it comes to three eclectic sure wine bets, Eberwein points diners toward El Bizcocho, M. Chapoutier winery in France and Café Boulud in NYC.

1. El Bizcocho in San Diego

LOCALE: Rancho Bernardo Inn, 17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive

CHEF: Once the kitchen of Gavin Kaysen, El Bizcocho now falls under the helm of executive chef Nicolas Bour, who previously worked at The Farmhouse in Georgia. While he was there, The Farmhouse received a “Best Farm to Table” award from Gourmet magazine—a fitting accolade considering Bour’s childhood growing up on a working organic farm.

RESTAURANT: If you’re looking for romance, a stay at the Rancho Bernardo Inn is nearly a sure bet—and that goes for an evening at El Bizcocho, as well. The dining room embodies comfortable, Old World elegance, with a menu of traditional French dishes prepared with a soupçon of California flair. And if you can’t find the perfect bottle on the huge wine list, you aren’t looking hard enough.

BACKSTORY: Eberwein worked at El Bizcocho for six years, though he started out as a “cellar rat” for the inn, running across the property to fetch whatever bottles were needed. “At the end of the night, we got to taste wine, and we got to taste wine every day. What that does for your palate is amazing,” Eberwein says. “I grew up there and it is where I fell in love with wine.”

 

       
The vineyards at M. Chapoutier. Photo courtesy of M. Chapoutier.        

2. M. Chapoutier Winery near Tain l'Hermitage, France

LOCALE: 18 avenue du Docteur Paul Durand

SETTING: The Chapoutier winery has been known for more than a century for its wine, and it is now one of the most highly regarded wine-makers in France. With headquarters near the village of Tain l’Hermitage in France’s northern Rhone Valley, M. Chapoutier has since expanded to vineyards in Provence and even Australia.

BACKSTORY: Michel Chapoutier took over the family business in 1990 at the ripe age of 26, and the family business has flourished ever since. Eberwein says he visited five years ago, and his tour included a visit to a back room that housed the family’s eau de vie: “To sit in this environment and have a glass of wine was like going back a hundred years in the winemaking business. It was so special for me to be thrown back to a time when winemaking was an art and not a science.”

WINE: The estate is known for its Hermitage wines, but Chapoutier owns land in other Rhone appellations as well, including Cote Rotie. The wine is biodynamic and organic, and the firm was one of the first to incorporate Braille writing on its labels.

 

       
Belgian endive salad with poached Bosch pears. Photo by M. Hom.        

3. Café Boulud in New York City

LOCALE: 20 East 76th Street

CHEF: After leaving El Bizcocho, Gavin Kaysen moved to New York to head up Daniel Boulud’s refined neighborhood bistro on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The chef, who famously got his start behind the counter of a Subway sandwich shop in Minnesota, has gone on to win a James Beard “Rising Star Chef” award and a “Best New Chef” award from Food & Wine. You might also recognize him from Iron Chef.

RESTAURANT: “I love, love, love Café Boulud,” Eberwein says of the restaurant, swathed in soft lighting and beige décor. “The environment is energetic and the food is amazing. Definitely some of the best in New York.” The menu is inspired by Boulud’s four “muses”: classical French tradition, seasonal ingredients, the garden and international flavors.

LIBATIONS: “What I really enjoy is the selection of nontraditional varietals and appellations,” Eberwein says. “The last time I was there, we had a Rasteau by Tardieu-Laurent. Outstanding!” Or, for creative cocktails, start (or end) the evening with a concoction at Boulud’s adjacent new Bar Pleiades.

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