The Frenchman with a passion for American wines
Our director of wines Frederic Marti has been named one of the ten best sommeliers in the UK. Here he shares his love of American wines.
Meet Frederic Marti
I was born and raised in the South of France and brought up to have a strong appreciation of the esteemed qualities of French wines. I’ve also lived in Spain when I worked at El Bulli, so Spanish wines have a special place in my heart too. However, what I’ve come to really appreciate is the interesting innovation and excellence surrounding American wines.
For me certain French wines have become a bit unreliable. It’s no longer the case that the most respected wineries are producing the best wines. As a true Frenchman though, I would say that for me there’s still nothing that can compare to a well-produced and well-aged Bordeaux.
The American way
At 45 Park Lane we’re very proud to have one of the largest selections of American wines in London. We have lots of exceptional wines from California, of course, but our menu is also a chance to discover regions you might not automatically think of such as New York and Washington, which are producing truly outstanding wines.
When I first came to live in London seven years ago, there was an exciting wine scene with a focus on big punchy flavours, rather than a refined taste and a long history. Now people are seeking precision and care about the stories behind how wines are produced. I’m excited by this attention to detail and the storytelling conveyed in wine labelling, which really is an art form in its own right.
Napa Valley still deserves its rightful reputation as the heart of American wine country. In just 50 years, Napa Valley perfected the creation of really high-end wines, something that took the French centuries to achieve. Santa Barbara is another place with a well-deserved wine pedigree. As our executive chef David McIntyre hails from the West Coast of America, I’ve made a conscious effort to put more of these on the menu, as they really complement his modern American cuisine.
The new Napa Valley
While I love Napa Valley wines, I like to point out that these are not the only good American wines. I like to be open to new regions and give lesser-known producers a chance to prove themselves. Washington is now widely considered the new Napa Valley and, thanks to its similar climate, it’s able to grown a selection of over 80 different grape varieties. In fact, many joke that Washington’s Walla Walla Valley is ‘so good they named it twice’, which reminds me of another wine region I must mention.
New York state of mind
For many, it’s comes as a real surprise that New York ranks third in grape production volume in the US (behind California and Washington). Production in the Hudson Valley region dates back as far as the 17th century, with commercial production beginning in the 19th century. This region is also home to the oldest continuously operating winery and the wines here are definitely worth getting to know.
Last year I went on a trip to Oregon, which allowed me to meet some exceptional producers. I realised the beauty and richness of the terroirs in that state and I was blown away by the quality of the fruits, the involvement of the winemakers, and the vibrancy of the wines. Our route took us from remote countryside locations to experimental urban wines and both were amazing. It was a revelation for me and I’ve been a big fan ever since.
The world of wine
It’s wonderful to work in such an exciting field, one that is constantly evolving. I’m in awe of the infinite aspects of wine. I really respect the work of wine producers because they put so much thought and effort into what they do. I really encourage you to experiment with your wine choices, as it’s often it’s the unexpected one that have the power to really surprise and delight us.
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