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December 19, 2014 Comments (0) Views: 6411 Young Blood Sommeliers

Young Blood Sommelier: Nicholas Pearce

Ever suave, and sophisticated. Nicholas Pearce relaxes at home.

Ever suave, and sophisticated. Nicholas Pearce relaxes at home.

In the fourth of a seventh (and wildly popular) series, we interview some of the most talented up-and-coming Sommeliers in Ontario and occasionally elsewhere.

A few years back I was flicking through the pages of a locally published periodical and noticed that when it came to Sommeliers it was the same names that seemed to pop up over and over again. I was also becoming gradually cognisant of the fact that we more established wine folks were well and truly “losing our edge” to these young blood Sommeliers.

Being well aware of the depth of new talent that was out there I finally decided to get together with a couple of fellow Toronto Sommelier “Old Guard” (Anton Potvin and Peter Boyd) to assemble a line of questioning that would give us an entertaining insight into the minds of these rising stars.

This week we speak with another Sommelier who has chosen to make the business of buying and selling wine his life, Mr. Nicholas Pearce

Good Food Revolution: So Nicholas, what is it that you are doing these days?

Nicholas Pearce:​  Well I just got back from a quick visit to the Roussillon and a weekend stop in Paris. So I’m a bit jetlagged. However, this type of travel is not an everyday thing for me.

I currently own and manage an Ontario based wine agency. Nicholas Pearce Wine Inc. My day-to-day activities involve the importation, distribution, consulting and marketing of wines throughout the province. Most of my work time is split between my office desk and meetings (tastings) in restaurants. However, I do get to travel frequently while visiting my winemakers and their wineries around the world.

GFR: And what kind of experience and training did you have before doing what you do today?

NP: ​ I grew up in a small town north of Toronto. I think learned most of my core business skills in our High School parking lot.

GFR: Riiiiiight… *cough*

NP: But I smartened up and graduated from Guelph University with a Commerce Degree specialized in Hospitality and Tourism Management and also studied with the International Sommelier Guild.

After working in Toronto for some years as a dinning-room manager and kitchen-studio manager, I moved to Bordeaux and studied at the Bordeaux International Wine Institute. There I completed a Masters of Business (MBA) specialized in Wine​ Marketing and Management. I was living in Bordeaux for these years back in 2007 and was working with a top Bordeaux Wine Négociant/Merchant; Maison Sichel. Throughout that time, I was mentored by James Sichel and his brothers. They taught me how to set-up and run a proper wine business.

Nicholas Pearce

GFR: Tell us about your work with wines before you moved over to the dark side?

NP: ​I helped with the wine program when I was the dinning room manager at Mildred Pierce and kitchen manager at The Cookworks back at the old 99 Sudbury location.

Love Donna Dooher, Kevin Gallagher and the old CW/MP crew. I learned a lot in those years from everyone, most importantly how to work my ass off and be part of a team.  That’s when I started tasting with wine agents, going to industry wine events and trade seminars.​ Right when I started to get into it, they announced they were closing to relocate after 17 years in that space. So I applied for this dream-like MBA program in Bordeaux. Et voila, I jumped sides.

It’s funny that you refer to it as the dark side. Wine agents obviously have a bad rap in general, which is a shame.

I do my best everyday to change the negative reputation that the supply side of the industry holds. My business focus is on providing wine solutions, rather than just sales. If I can focus on providing solid solutions for my clients, dollars and volumes are simply a function of that main goal.

You and I have worked together for over 5 years in many capacities. I’m pretty sure there has been nothing too dark about our business relationships. I hope the pleasure has not been all mine ?

GFR: You have always been a pleasure to work with Nicholas!

Do you miss any aspects of the Sommelier role?

NP: ​For sure, but I think I’m better at supporting Sommeliers then working service myself. I do miss it though. However, it’s a tough job to juggle with all the other management duties that come with the gig. Service is a small part of the big picture. However, there is nothing like strutting through a busy dining room with one of your favourite bottles to pop for an thirsty table of foodies and wine enthusiasts. I miss that.

You'll rarely see Nicholas Pearce without a glass of wine in his hand.

You’ll rarely see Nicholas Pearce without a glass of wine in his hand.

 

GFR: How would you describe your portfolios. ​

NP:​ I try to source real wines made by real people. I don’t have any “factory” wines. My selection is pretty niche with wines made by fairly small to medium sized producers. All of them have a story with a real person, time and place attached to them. ​The wines are pretty Eurocentric with France, Italy and Spain taking up a big portion. I like the old world and learning about the history, culture, heritage and terroir though the wines. However, I’m also working with amazing wineries in New Zealand, Australia, Oregon, California etc.

I also have a fantastic line-up of local wines from both Niagara and Prince Edward County. It’s important for me to help restaurants represent our local terroir so we can continue to create and explore our own industries’ potential.

Geography aside, lots of the wineries I work with practice sustainable, organic and biodynamic (even Cosmic) farming and viticulture. I believe any agricultural practices that bring a farmer closer to his or her land shows through in the quality and consistency of the final product. I even have some that use natural approaches to winemaking in the cellar. Funky, fun stuff.

GFR: Ontario is a big place. How do you choose who you are going to work with?

NP:​ I’m happy work with anyone that is interested in good wine. I’m already supporting most of the top wine programs in Ontario which keeps me very busy, but there are new restaurants opening all the time. As my business continues to grow I naturally have new resources to support more new clients.

It’s a pretty small community so I usually develop my next best relationship through a recommendation or introduction. I do miss banging on doors through. I did that for my first years and met my best clients and some best friends that way. I’m really thankful for all the support. I’ve never really lost a client and never plan to.

As far as geography goes, my focus is on Toronto with Ottawa as a secondary focus market. I’ll ship anywhere though. I’m working with cool restaurants outside of the city in places like Brantford (On the Lam), Cambridge (Langdon Hall), Niagara (Treadwells)… even as far as Thunder Bay (Tomlin).

GFR: How many accounts do you deal with? Private clients and restaurants.

NP: ​It’s hard to say. I have new private clients every week from sommeliers sharing their secret wine sources with their guests. As for restaurants, I work with over 100 but it’s really about 40 core restaurants that take most of the allocations. I try and hold stock and manage allocations for my clients, rather then just blasting through purchase orders when they land. I’m still young so I’m working with a fairly long-term/sustainable business approach and model. I just need to keep people happy and engaged.

GFR: What makes for a good account in your mind?

NP: ​I really like dealing with clients that are knowledgeable, passionate about their program… and can send me a cheque once in while.

GFR: How aware of wine were you whilst growing up? Were you around wine from an early age?

NP: ​Not really. We had Champagne around for special occasions, but the only thing I can remember is a bottle of Mouton Cadet in the cupboard and Barton & Guestier Blanc in the fridge. ​

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GFR: Ha… that’s better than my house back in the day.

Can you remember your first taste of wine?

NP: ​I was sneaking sips from a young age but those wines where way to dry for my liking. I’m lucky they didn’t have bottles of Sauterns or icewine on hand. That could have been a pleasant and dangerous discovery.

GFR: When do you feel children should be introduced to the wonderful world of wine?

NP: ​I think they should be able to have a sip for ceremony at proper dinners. If they are the table behaving like an adult, they should at least get a taste of the ol’ B&G. I think it’s important to get kids into geography, history, science and culture first. Those are the best parts of living a life of wine as I do.

GFR: When did you first decide that you would like a career in wine?… and was it always with a view to being an importer yourself?

NP: ​ I always wanted to be a restaurateur. My best buddy in university was Chef Michael Stauffer (Ancaster Mill) and we always talked about going into business. He had already called the Chef role so I figured I’d be the Maitre’d/Sommelier, so I started reading books on wine.

GFR: So who or what gave you your first insight into the world of wine?

NP: When I was working in London, England at Le Pont de la Tour in 2002. They had a full French brigade in both the front and back of house. I had never seen anything like it. Naturally, there was Wine Director, Head Sommeliers, Sommeliers and even Commis Sommeliers from all over the world.

It was a very serious wine program, which also included cigar service at the time. I didn’t know much about wine so they all started to school me and test me on memorizing basic grape varieties of different regions. If I could repeat yesterdays lesson at the end of service, they’d hook me up with a taste of something special. I think it took three nights to remember the Bordeaux Grape varieties (damn Petit Verdot).

When I got it, they poured me a taste of a classified growth. It was those days that started to open my eyes to the world of wine and the characters that had devoted their life to it. These sommeliers took so much pride in their work and where all super cool.

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GFR: The Sommelier world is notoriously full of pretentious arseholes, and after seeing that film Somm I worry about the emergence of a new Bro culture… I’d love to hear your thoughts?

NP:​ As long as there is a culture then I’m game. I think us Bros need to pull our socks up. Lots of my best clients are women and they are managing some of the best programs in Toronto. It’s really great to see this, as wine was a fairly male dominant industry, but in Toronto it’s really well rounded.

There were certainly some great women that paved the way in Toronto and busted down those doors back in the 90’s and early 00’s (you know who you are).

GFR: Anne Martin, Jennifer Huether, April Kilpatrick… Yes, I certainly agree with you there.

Which wine regions have you had the opportunity to visit?

NP: Well I just spent five days exploring the Roussillon with intensive visits of Maury, Rivesaltes, and Banyuls.

While I was I living in Bordeaux for those two years, I visited the region extensively and also would travel south to Bergerac, Cahors, Gaillac, Madiran, Jurançon… I’m in France almost twice a year to visit Burgundy, Rhone, Languedoc, Roussillon and North Eastern Spain. In Italy, I’ve explored Tuscany, Veneto, Trentino, Alto Adige and Val D’Aosta.

Just this past summer, I spent a few weeks in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Loved it, highly recommend it. I was so enthralled I’m launching a new Oregon project with a local sommelier/partner in 2015.

So, while I have done some good traveling, I still have a lot to do. It’s my goal to visit a new producing region or country every year, so I have a lot of work and traveling ahead of me.

GFR: You have done a bit of winemaking haven’t you?

NP: ​Yes, I worked in the cellars at Chateau D’Argadens and Cave Bel-Air on Bordeaux’s right bank for the 2008 vinifications. It was one of the best times of my life. Long days, but it was really great getting my hands dirty and working with a fantastic team of oenologists. I recommend that everyone in the industry spends some time working in the vineyard and cellar. It changes your whole perspective on the industry.​

I was actually in Prince Edward County for this this past harvest helping with some pressing, punch downs and also barrel tastings and blending some 2013 vintages.

GFR: And where else would you like to make wine (in a pipe dream)?

NP: ​Burgundy for sure, or maybe the south of France. However,​ Prince Edward County and Niagara are both possibilities. I’m a big fan of local wines and think we still have a long way to go. I’ve actually been working with some local winemakers on a micro-négociant project which will launch in 2015.

GFR: How much of a Wine Agent’s work is paperwork?

NP: ​Whoa, lots of time on the computer for sure. I usually do at least 6 hours a day on communications and administration, invoicing, ordering, LCBO product applications and offers, ​accounts receivable etc… I’m training a general manager in the new year which is really exciting. I’ll be able to share a bit of the load and create more time for special events and client support initiatives. I’ve found the perfect person who has been a client for years. So everything is really falling into place.

GFR: So do you prefer to buy or sell bottles of wine and why?

NP:  I like both. I’m in the middle so I have to buy every wine that I sell. I like selling though. I have to make the calls on what wines to import, so it makes me really happy when a client tastes a wine for the first time and absolutely loves it. I have to sort through 1000’s of wines before I make my picks, so its nice to nail it.  Again, I try and focus more on sharing and solutions with clients, rather then any hard selling.

GFR: What have been your career highs and lows?

NP:  I’m still pretty young so things have always been getting progressively better. I haven’t really had any lows. Some good highs where graduating second in my class at the Bordeaux International Wine Institute MBA Program and also being awarded Top 30 under 30 by the Ontario Hostelry Institute. I’m a pretty positive person so I see

GFR: Who is, in your mind, a real role model for Sommeliers?

NP: Wow. I got a long list… there are so many. To name a few Peter Boyd, Peter Bodnar Rod, Will Predhomme, Kathleen Moore, Bruce Walner, ​John Szabo, Pieter Van den Weghe…

GFR: And for Wine Agents?​ ​

NP:​ I’ve had a lot of help from a lot of people. The list long but certainly Bernard Stramwasser, Mark Cuff, Ben Hodson, Marc Coster, Paul Decampo, and Norm Hardie should get a shout out.

GFR: Do you still have nightmares about working as a Sommelier? I do… regularly… and it usually involves being unable to find bottles in a cellar… and the clock is ticking away… in fact I had one last night!!! And I haven’t been in the role for five years!!!

NP:​ Not so much anymore, but certainly when it was my day to day.

GFR: And I guess that there must be a whole world of Wine Agent nightmares? Tell me about those…

NP: I have a constant unsettling fear when I’m getting low on certain wines and the new shipment is still in-transit. That’s the hardest. That’s a living stress that I wear both day and night. However, I also have dreams about clients not getting there wine on time or important cases getting lost in the warehouse. It’s healthy though, it helps me to wake up and double check everyone is good and everything is set up.

GFR: Wine Agents famously have their weekends off… What’s your idea of a perfect weekend?

NP:  My best weekends are at our family home in Prince Edward County. I call it “Clos Saint Jean”. It has a chateau-like feel and some four year old Pinot and Chardonnay in the ground. My wife Ashley and I go whenever we can. We spend the whole weekend visiting friends at wineries, shopping farmers markets and basically sourcing the goods for that night’s feast. I think we spend most of our time in the kitchen or at the table with good food and good wine.

While we are there, I also try to get into a little bit of excise to balance out the calories and always a little bit of agency work. I really love what I do so I work everyday to least keep up the client/supplier communications and making sure orders and stocks are set for the week to come.

GFR: Where are your favourite places to dine and drink in Toronto.. perhaps tell us a hidden treasure of our lovely city?

NP:  ​I​’m living in the east-end now, Leslieville. So my favourite spots are Ascari Enoteca, Glas Winebar, Skin & Bones, Ruby Watch Co, Pizzeria Libretto (Danforth and all of them). Downtown my easy picks are Richmond Station, Momofuku, George. For the west-end, Actinolite, Chantecler, Archive, Enoteca Sociale…

The list is long because I try to support my clients, who are all doing great things, but I also like to discover new spots to see what they have in terms of cuisines, wine and potential.

GFR: Do you cook yourself? What’s your favourite dish to cook these days?

NP: ​Ashley and I cook all the time. I’ve always got something on the go in the kitchen; soups, stews and I will roast pretty much anything I can find. I like old peasant style dishes and ethnic foods. Ashley is really into food/cooking and has a great collection of cookbooks and culinary magazine subscriptions.

I love referencing them for ideas but I never really follow a recipe. I learned a basic French foundation so I just go freestyle and stick to the basic techniques. It’s funny, Ashley started baking recently because I would always take over and freestyle her savoury recipe ideas, but know I can never mess with her cakes and pies. She runs that part of the kitchen now.

GFR: And have you had any cooking disasters recently?

NP:​ Not really, and thank god. I cooked a 16 lbs turkey this thanksgiving in a wood burning pizza oven at Clos Saint Jean in PEC. It was awesome, thank got. Imagine I messed up the turkey and dinner for the whole family because I thought I was Michael Stadtlander for the afternoon. The pressure was on but it turned out perfect. I think I rotated it every 5 minutes just to be sure it wasn’t burning. Those ovens get crazy hot.

GFR: How do you feel about Canadian wines? Any current favourites? You carry that Leaning Post stuff, and that is some good juice.

NP: ​Love local. I’m a big advocate of both PEC and Niagara as I mentioned before. I do consulting work with Keint-He, Organized Crime and Leaning Post. ​These wineries are making some really interesting wines one special terroirs.

Most are unaware that Nicholas was a professional cardigan model before he moved into the world of wine.

Most are unaware that Nicholas was a professional knitwear model before he moved into the world of wine.

GFR: Do you feel that there is a good Sommelier community in Toronto?

NP: ​I think we have an amazing Sommelier community in Toronto, and all over Ontario. There is lots of exciting stuff happening and some real talent. We gotta keep having fun with it and recruiting new young talent.​

GFR: Do all you Wine Agents hang about together as well? Are you all chummy? Or is it crazily competitive?

NP:​ It’s a really competitive business but I’m too niche to be a threat to anyone. I hang out with a bunch of different agents and reps for sure, big and small. I know how hard it is so I really do respect everyone that is working on private order and consignment wines. I have a lot more respect for that type of activity then agents who simply submit wines for LCBO retail.

It’s always good times chatting with all the bootleggers folks down at the LCBO Private Warehouse docks while we wait impatiently for our wines.

GFR: How do you feel about Toronto as a wine and cocktail city? Where do you go if you need to get your wine or cocktail on?

NP: ​I’ve had some great cocktails at places like Geraldine, Chantecler, Skin and Bones… I’m cool with Champagne for apéro.

GFR: What would you be doing if you were not a Wine Agent? (You are not allowed to answer Sommelier)

NP:  ​Winemaker would be an obvious choice because of my level of interest. However, wine aside, I would probably be still in the hospitality industry working as a Hotelier or Restaurateur.

GFR: What are your thoughts on music in restaurants?

NP:  Music is a big part of setting an atmosphere. It can add so much but can also intrude. It’s all in the small details and music can play an important role. I think 1960’s reggae is a good default setting.

GFR: Do you have a favourite food/wine related scene in a film/movie or show?

NP:  I just watched the film “Chef” recently. Loved the restaurant scenes (and colourful language), but those pressed Cubano sandwiches actually made me salivate and have imprinted themselves in my mind and palate. I can even remember the perfect “CRUNCH” sound they had. That’s good film making when the viewer can almost fully experience the foods flavours, taste and textures. Chefs, I will trade wine for pressed Cubano’s 🙂

GFR: I’m guessing that you have non-industry friends… how do they feel about what you do for a living?

NP: ​They all like to pull my chain and say that I don’t really work. They think I’m just hanging out in restaurants drinking wine, going on trips and drinking wine, playing on my phone and computer… while drinking wine.

Friends that know how hard I work have an inside joke that I’m always on “Workation”, because a lot of my job involves doing things that relate to “entertainment” that others enjoy when they are not working or on vacation.

My friends and family are happy I’ve found an industry that I love.

GFR: What are your thoughts on blind tasting wine?

NP: ​I really like tasting blind. It’s a great way to remove any preconceptions​ of style/grape/region/price-point while you evaluate. The guessing part is optional for me. I’m more interested in an accurate tasting note then identifying the wine. I pour wines blind for clients all the time. It’s not to see if I can trick them or if they can nail it, it’s just to get their opinion and general description of a new wine. It’s great feed back for me and it also helps them progress as a sommelier. Lots of my clients are really good at identifying to the region and grapes. We have lots of talent.

GFR: Are you a better blind taster with or without a bad hangover? I’m definitely the former…

NP: ​ I think I’m better with out the hangover. It is amazing how a light hangover can pass quickly after a good morning tasting.

GFR: What’s your current favourite wine region?

NP: ​I’d have to say Burgundy as a default, but I spent a few weeks in Oregon this summer and was really impressed with the wines and the culture. There is a lot of great wines being made, but we don’t see it here. Most of them aren’t exporting, and the letters LCBO frighten most producers.​ I’m pretty jazzed about the Roussillon now too. It’s a wild terroir with a large diversity of style. Over the last five days, I’ve selected the feature wines for a special Roussillon tasting I’m preparing for the trade.

GFR: In your mind, as an agent, what is “hot” in the world of wine right now in Ontario?

NP: ​Organic and Biodynamic wines ​are in good demand. I feel like a lot of clients are asking for it. I’m not sure if that’s something that the consumer is demanding, or if its the industry that’s pushing it. Local wines are on the rise too. I think that is a result of the rise quality on the supply side. The average consumer can trust “local” now.  Also, dry sparkling wines. I’ve been stocking two cuvees of AOC Cremant de Jura. I have them available year round and barely keeping up with the demand.

GFR: And what’s not so hot? What has fallen out of favour in the province?

NP: ​​I think there was a lot of complacency and sub-par wines doing well in the market before. Agents where confusing OK with GOOD and clouding the supply side of things. Now the supply is getting better and better due to natural selection from the buyers and agencies working with good and great wines. So the just “OK” wines are fading out.

GFR: When it comes to wine is there anything that you feel is overrated?

NP: It’s all about price / quality for me under $50. I’m open to anything. When you get into wines over $50, then it’s a whole different side of the business that involves so many different factors of supply/demand, notoriety, status etc… I think one can find value in a wine at both $20 and $200.

GFR: What is your favourite wine pairing right now? I know that you do like to eat out a fair bit? Maybe you want to plug a customer?

NP: Go to Richmond Station, order the Burger and a bottle of 2013 Leaning Post Gamay VQA Niagara Peninsula. It’s a simple pairing that will leave you very satisfied.

GFR: Okay… three pairings with me on the spot?… but with some Sommelier types, for their lists, and from your portfolios.

What would you suggest for them wine or beverage-wise… and why?

 

Care to Join me1: Stuffy Old School Private Club Sommelier with a very conservative membership wringing his neck every day. He wants to break free. I was there once… at the Granite Club… Ugh… I shudder at the memories.

NP:  2012 Pagos Ayles “A” DO Vino De Pago. Insane quality price ratio for an Aragon district mountain wine that looks like it’s been bottled by the Hells Angels. It over delivers in every category so he can rest easy while getting his clients out of the Bordeaux, Napa, Tuscan Box

Hipster-Tattoos

2: GM/”Sommelier” of a 22 seat Parkdale boîte that still blasts shitey 90’s Hip Hop, mistakenly thinking it’s dope. Thinks that brown liquor is boss because of the extortionate markup and sees wine as an afterthought. A bit of a dick actually…

NP: Maybe a little dose of Domaine Baud “Brut Sauvage” AOC Cremant de Jura could spark an interest on the wine side of things for him.

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3: A super-stressed Sommelier for a downtown hotspot, full of Bay street types, probably a bit of a powder-monkey, sweats a lot, and smells of an afterhours (stale cigarettes and hard liquor) at 3pm the next afternoon, when you are tasting. Hmmm… I can smell his coke sweat right now.

NP: The best cure would the Clos del Rey, Cotes de Roussillon Villages 2008 or it’s less expensive (Grenache heavy) younger bother, Le Sabina du Clos Del Rey, Cotes de Roussillon Villages 2012.

GFR: Do you often drink beers or spirits?

NP:  Love tasting and drinking both beers and spirits, but I can usually find a wine for most occasions.

GFR: What is your least favorite part of your job as a Wine Agent? And how do you find working within the fetters of the LCBO’s system?

NP: I like working with the LCBO as both a broker, agent and distributor. It’s almost like I have 100’s of employees processing my orders, managing my warehouse, handling international transport logistics and payments. So I treat everyone at the LCBO with loads of respect, just like my employees, clients and suppliers.

I don’t really have a least favourite part. It is sometimes disappointing when I negotiate a solid allocation and price on an amazing and it gets declined by LCBO:Vintages for a competitive tasting. Some of my wines might not jump out on paper but would be champions in the competitive tastings that the buyers do. However, Vintages shows me and my suppliers such great support I could never complain.

GFR: What is your weapon of choice when it comes to a corkscrew?

NP:  Lately I do most of my tastings with a Coravin, so I’m opening bottles less and less these days. It’s a great new invention that has revolutionized the way we taste wine and the way I conduct my tastings. I now usual role with about 20 selections at an average meeting/tasting. With out the Coravin, this would be about $500 worth of open wine every few days.

GFR: Speaking of which, where do you stand on the screwcap vs. cork debate? And how do your customers feel about that?

NP:  I’m a traditionalist and enjoy opening wines under natural cork. I like the gamble and risk when popping corks. However, screwcaps make loads of sense. If I was a winemaker I might be pro-cap.

GFR: Due to us always being around alcohol, many people in our industry often have quite the increased tolerance for wine/booze, or they develop issues. What is your limit and how do you keep yourself in check?

NP:  I come from a long and distinguished line of alcoholic men so I have to be careful. I do like to indulge but feel I can still make responsible decisions when needed. I’ve been enjoying my soda stream and green teas lately, both a satisfying and healthy alternative to the ocean of wine in my house.

GFR: Have you ever been “cut off”? If so, where and when was the most recent time?

NP: I’m pretty good at holding my booze, but I think I would fall asleep before I could do any damage to get the boot.

GFR: Do you have a good hangover cure?

NP: Bacon !

GFR: How many wines do you taste in a week?

NP:  It depends. Maybe 20-30 when I’m in Ontario and meeting with clients. As I said, I usually bring as much as I can carry with more customized options in the Jeep depending on the client. When I’m visiting wine regions, I can do 100+ in a day. That’s hard. All you really want after 50+ wines is a beer.

This week in the Roussillon I met with 8 producers each morning, tasting 70-100 wines before Noon. Then we would taste 3 wines at lunch, which I would not spit. Followed, by two property visits with 10+ wines each. The evening would finish with another 3 wines at dinner (Spitting/dumping optional). It’s intense and you have to keep track of everything.

GFR: When tasting with clients do you choose to spit or swallow?

NP:  I usually try to follow suit and do whatever they do, but lately I’m on the 100% spit kick. I’m exercising daily so I’m trying to stay hydrated and drink water.

GFR: What’s your “house” wine at home?

NP: I’ve always got so much open that it changes every day. If I had my choice, it would be Chateau Maris – Minervois 2012. A well crafted, inexpensive Organic Syrah with a splash of Grenache to appease the AOC.

GFR: Most remembered glass of wine ever?

NP:  1976 Chateau D’ Yquem, Christmas Dinner in Paris 2007. We drank a bottle between 4 of us.

GFR: What is your perfect glass (or bottle) of wine at the end of a crazy day pounding the pavements?

NP:  After a long day of meetings of tastings, a beer is the perfect palate cleanser.

GFR: And now the cheesy question Nicholas… If you were a grape varietal what would you be? and why?

NP:  I would have to choose a grape like Assyrtiko. I’m still pretty new on the scene in Ontario. I’m fairly unique in my approach and attack. I’m always looking to over deliver and I’m here to stay.

GFR: Thank you for taking the time Nicholas! Always a pleasure.

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution.

Peter Boyd has been a part of Toronto’s wine scene for over two decades. He has taught the Diploma level for the International Sommeliers Guild, and has been the sommelier at Scaramouche Restaurant since 1993. He also writes about wine, food and pop culture and raises show molerats for fun and profit. He’s also one of the most solid guys in the business.Trust this man. Seriously… he knows his shit and is slowly taking over this city. He just celebrated his 66th birthday!

A well-known and much respected figure on the Toronto food and wine scene for almost twenty years, Potvin has worked in many of the city’s very best establishments including Biffs, Canoe, and Eau. In 2004 Potvin opened his incarnation of the Niagara Street Café, a restaurant that has gone from strength to strength year after year, with universal critical acclaim. Anton spends much of his time traveling and tasting wine and has been ranked highly in consecutive years of the International Wine Challenge. Anton recently opened his exciting new project DaiLo with Chef Nick Liu.

 

 

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