Great wines created by great sommeliers
When sommeliers become winemakers
Empathy is said to be one of the best ways for humans to understand each other, through the ability to see things from the other’s point of view. However, in the world of wine, from time to time we hear a wine producer saying that a certain sommelier has been too tough on their wines, or that a wine critic does not fully understand a wine. Fortunately these apparent examples of a lack of empathy are relatively rare but when it is believed to occur it is often put down to sommeliers failing to appreciate the work carried out every day in the vineyards and wineries. Most wine professionals know full well that this should not happen and some have even made a move to put themselves in the position of winemakers. For example, prestigious sommeliers like Xavi Nolla, David Seijas, Fernando Mora and Franck Massard have decided to take on the role of wine producers, swapping the wine glass for a hoe as they set to work in their vineyards to create their own wines – with impressive results.
Xavi Nolla - Vins de la Memòria
Xavi Nolla is in charge of Vins de la Memoria, a project bringing together wine and history to remember the people who suffered the horror of the Spanish Civil War, one of whom was Xavi’s grandfather, Agustín. Xavi has searched for vineyards in locations which played a part in his grandfather’s life during wartime, ranging from the south of Catalonia to Roussillon in France.
David Seijas - Gallina de Piel Wines
David Seijas was the chief sommelier at El Bulli, considered to be one of the best restaurants in the world until it closed in 2011. Apart from giving classes and conferences nowadays, a few years ago he decided to start his own winemaking project alongside the architect and fellow sommelier Guillem Sanz. A passion for football led to his naming the winery ‘Gallina de piel’,a difficult-to-translate play on words often used by Johan Cruyff during his time as manager of FC Barcelona. Their project is growing and growing and they now make wines in Catalonia, Aragon, and Galicia.
Fernando Mora MW- Bodegas Frontonio
Frontonio is the personal project of Fernando Mora (Master of Wine), Francisco Latasa, Ana Jiménez and Mario López, a group of friends in love with wine. From day one they have aimed to return the historic Valdejalón vines to their deserved place on the map of Spanish wines by making a firm commitment to local grape varieties used traditionally in this region of Aragon.
Franck Massard - Epicure Wines
French sommelier Franck Massard, awarded Best Sommelier of the Year in the UK in 1996, saw his dream come true when he set up Epicure Wines. The adventure began when he bought a small Priorat vineyard back in 2004, producing only about 500 bottles in an old shed. The project took off and he now creates wines in Montsant, Terra Alta and Ribeira Sacra, as well as working on a new project with the Master of Wine, David Forer.