Our June Somm Select Bundle has been selected by sommelier Hristian Iliev. Here’s a little about his background in the food and wine scene, written by Hristian:
I guess by today’s standards, I am considered a veteran in the sommelier scene. I remember how I was always the youngest of the wine team, but things change:) I have been working as a sommelier for the past 17 years in Las Vegas. I opened the first Allan Ducasse restaurant in 2004 with over $2 million wine inventory and dove head-first into the immense and complex world of wine.
It became an obsession to relate every wine that I taste to the place where it comes from! I am a huge believer in terroir, and if I don’t find the connection between the soil, climate, latitude, people, and indigenous cultivars and the wine, my interest stops there! I believe every glass of wine should tell the story of where it comes from. With this obsession came my interest in studying the theory behind wine. I was humbled by the knowledge and the passion from everyone that I met from the Court of Master Sommelier, and in 2014 I passed the Advanced Certificate on the first try.
Nowadays, I run the wine program at Carbone in Las Vegas. I built the wine list and I’ve been part of it since day one. As I appreciate wines from all over the world, the past six years have been dedicated to Italy – and once you get to experience the culture and dedication to telling their story though wine, it’s hard not to become fascinated! Italy has 543 indigenous wine-making varieties! The diversity in microclimates is what makes the wine country so special.
I’ve been vegetarian since I was 16 years old. My biggest fear going into the restaurant industry was that I’d have to taste meat in order to be a great sommelier! I made a promise to myself to never break my beliefs in order to advance my career. Instead I put my energy into learning how wine and food plays together and understanding preparation, palate feel, and taste. I kept that promise and I am not afraid anymore. It is a very meat-driven industry; that’s why it’s very important for me to be part of it, because the change had to come from within.
I don’t mind being the only vegan at a wine dinner – it sparks a conversation, it brings questions, and it makes people around you think. Lots of things have changed in the past 17 years. It’s not strange to be the vegan in the group anymore. More and more fine dining establishments are embracing plant-based ideas. And of course, bringing this direction into the wine world is very important as well.
Hristian’s Wine Choices for the June Somm Select Bundle:
Luca du Tomaso Scigula Rosato IGT – not your typical lean and dry rose. This wine carries plenty of character, with tons of pleasant aromatics. Underripe red fruit with a light floral component, red apple, and ripe raspberries. Nice bright acidity keeps this rose vibrant and elegant. Slight minerality adds to the complexity. Great Monday night drink with a soyrizo vegan pizza!
Eraldo Dentici Montefalco Rosso DOC Corcurione 2017 – bald, powerful, and opulent nose, ripe raspberries, bing cherries, with a hint of mint and dominant iron. Slight potting soil notes. Great complexity on the nose that leads to vibrant and pleasant palate. Surprisingly balanced alcohol to what is seemed to be a very hot wine. Sagrantino tannins are there; I’d give it some time in the glass! Delicious wine! I want to grill some Beyond Burgers!
Nerkihue Quiebre Syrah 2016 – really well made Syrah, bringing all the classic marks, blueberry, blackberry pie, hint of black pepper and animal. Also this very distinct medicinal note that always reminds me of red wines from Chile. Almost elegant palate with a hint of oak.
La Veneranda, Federico II Rosato 2019 – it’s interesting enjoying a rose from one of the most tannic grapes like Sagrantino. Very intense color leads to a sort of natural, fresh grapey notes. A touch of effervescence brightens the palate and leaves you with this pleasant rose petal and strawberry sensation.
Pandolfi Price Larkun Riesling 2018 – the three most southern wine regions of Chile have become home for vibrant whites. This unmistakable Riesling shines with minerality, underripe green apple, pear, and lime. Pleasant petroleum notes lead to a refreshing dry finish. I drink it by the pool on a hot Vegas afternoon! No food needed – this wine makes me happy just the way it is!
Castello Vicchiomaggio Amphiarao Toscana Rosso IGT 2018 – I’m so excited about this wine! Aging wines in amphora always gives the grapes the opportunity to express this untainted and pure character. Yes! To every natural approach!