Here’s a controversial question – can sommeliers make better wine than winemakers? I’d like to argue the case for YES!
Consider this – most winemakers aim to make the perfect wine that is an expression of the grape variety and region it hails from. What they aren’t considering is whether it will match well with food – even though most people consume wine with food.
Last week I flew to Berlin for lunch where I caught up with Germany’s top sommelier, Andre Macionga, who completely turned my wine world upside down.
Like many celebrity chefs, and now sommeliers, Andre is being lured from the restaurant to take up new ventures. After all, you can only earn so much as a wine waiter before you hit a financial ceiling. The documentary Somm is a clear indicator of that. All four somms featured in the film have gone on to bigger and better things. They’re now ambassadors to wine companies, opening up bottle shops or have become wine distributors. None of them have become winemakers however, and this is where Andre Macionga is shaking things up, ably assisted by some of Germany’s most revered winemakers.
You see, Andre doesn’t care so much about the grape’s identity, he cares about the flavour and texture of the wine and how well it pairs with food and the overall final experience.
Andre is The head sommelier of top Berlin restaurant Tim Raue, winner of two Michelin stars and ranked in the top 50 restaurants of the world. He’s also held the title of “Sommelier of the Year 2013” by F.A.Z. Lovers of Asian food should make a beeline to Tim Raue and taste the exquisite food on offer. Having worked in one of Australia’s top Asian restaurants, I can appreciate the tightrope you must navigate when matching wine with these delicate Asian flavours. Get it right, Nirvana. Get it wrong, and your mouth will be in pure hell as flavours fight each other to the death!
Lovers of German wine will appreciate why these gems are so perfectly matched to Asian food. Fragrances mesh in unison, the limy nature of the Riesling, the lighter texture of Pinot Noir – it’s all heaven. For Andre, this is not enough. He wants you to completely forget what you think German wine can taste like. He’s disrupting the industry by making completely new wine styles – made by blending the library stocks of the country’s top wineries.
Varieties you wouldn’t think would marry well together are now becoming unlikely bed fellows. Vintages – some old, some new, are being blended together in perfect unison where food compatibility is the only thing that matters.
To put it bluntly – the wines under the André Macionga Cuvée GmbH label are some of the most exciting German wines I have ever tasted, sporting a texture I just haven’t tasted in German wines before.
Working for one of Germany’s top restaurants, you can only imagine how every winery is beating a path to his door. The wine list is sensational, and so too are the relationships with winemakers he’s forged over the years. Wineries sunch as Horst Sauer, Markus Schneider, Klostermühle Odernheim and Neverland.
André Macionga Cuvée GmbH wines were founded in 2017 and now sports a total of six cuvées. All are limited edition and can never be repeated. Next year, he will release a raft of completely new wines.
What are your thoughts. Do you think more sommeliers should be working with winemakers to produce wine specifically for food matching? Or should Somms leave the wine making to the pros? Let us know in the comments.
More info: www.andremaciongacuvee.com