Uncorked: Gino Nardella

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Gino Nardella Master Sommelier The Stafford London hotel

Related tags: Gino Nardella, Uncorked, The Stafford, The Stafford Collection, The Game Bird, Sommelier, Wine

The Master Sommelier has overseen the cellar at The Stafford London for 35 years. He retires next year but will stay on at the St James's hotel in a mentoring and ambassadorial role.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine

Having grown up on the family vineyard, I was always around wine and the process of making it. As I got older, I began working at the vineyard and my love and passion for wine stemmed from there.  

Tell us about your wine list at The Stafford London

Our wine list will always remain Burgundy and Bordeaux heavy but this year we have expanded our collection to include some Greek, Chinese and Japanese wines.

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters?

Distracted, I once poured the wine from one table into the glasses of next one. Thankfully all the guests involved found it funny. I promise I was sober. 

Name your top three restaurant wine lists

For me the great wine lists are the ones where you walk in, open the wine list and can find a good variety of excellent quality wines and great vintages, at affordable prices, making them accessible for everyone. They don’t need to be offering verticals of DRC or Petrus to make them top wine lists. If I had to name three favourites, they would be Cabotte in London (the place to enjoy a great Burgundy bottle); Bern’s Steak House in Florida (with thousands of outstanding wines, it may take you a day to decide which one to have); and Eleven Madison Park in New York (amazing food and wines).  

Who do you most respect in the wine world? 

There’s no one person, I would say it is all those that have a passion for wine that are passing on their knowledge to create the next generation or sommeliers – whether individuals or training bodies. Two people who in my eyes are timelessly dedicated to wine education are Brian K Julyan MS and Ronan Sayburn MS. 

What’s the most interesting wine you’ve ever come across? 

Kooyong ‘Ferrous’ Pinot Noir, Mornington Peninsula, 2005. It was a very exciting Pinot Noir and I didn’t know that the Mornington Peninusla could achieve a Pinot of that quality. 

What are the three most overused tasting notes?

Minerality, minerality and minerality. We all like to use these, but no one knows what exactly they mean, it’s just a sensation. 

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?

South Africa offers a huge variety and excellent value for money and we offer some great South African wines on our list at the moment. 

What is your ultimate food and drink match? 

Almost anything with a great white or red Burgundy...

Old World or New World?

I enjoy them both, as I respect the fact that they are offering something different and I enjoy their individualities. 

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants? 

When you are not given enough time to browse the wine list fully, or when the sommelier is not a sommelier and is unable to have true discussion on the list. 

Who is your favourite producer at the moment and why? 

I’ve been lucky enough to visit amazing vineyards and spend time with some of the great wine producers across the world however I would love to spend time working with Gary Farr Bannockburn winery near Geelong in Victoria. It would be great to sit down for a one-to-one chat to understand his approach and passions when creating his wines.

As a Master Sommelier, what question do you most get asked by customers?​  

How difficult was it to become a Master Sommelier...

Which wine producing region/country is currently underrated at the moment and why?

Eastern European wines have not yet been discovered by the consumer, but there are some lovely gems to be found there. There are some good producers that have put a huge amount of effort into wine production, we just need to educate the consumer about them.

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why? 

As it’s my last meal, can we stretch it to two? I would start with a Montrachet followed by a Richebourg. Burgundy is my favourite region. 

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