For many years California’s most prestigious and acclaimed wines struggled to get out of the state, never mind the rest of the United States, or reach the shores of the UK. Now it is a very different story with premium wine venues such as 67 Pall Mall offering a whole new platform for the best Californian wines to shine. Here we talk to 67’s head sommelier Federico Moccia about what opportunities he sees for California
in fine wine circles and how it is working with Californian producers Louis M. Martini and Orin Swift to promote its top wines to its members.
“Members are enjoying experimenting with and exploring California and what it has to offer,” says Federico Moccia about the opportunities for premium Californian wines at 67 Pall Mall.
What is your background and how did you get into wine?
Originally, I am from Brescia, Italy, and the love of wine came to me naturally as I was surrounded by it. I have devoted myself to wine ever since. In particular, I work to champion Italian regions close to my heart, such as Franciacorta, by working with the Consorzios and producers to arrange expansive tastings at 67 Pall Mall. But I’m also fascinated by other world-renowned wine growing regions and in particular California, Chile and South Africa.
How did you get to work at 67 Pall Mall and what do you think makes it stand out as a place to work?
When I arrived in London, I was keen to work at 67 Pall Mall because I wanted to expand my knowledge in the best way possible. At 67 I have had an incubator of sorts, filled with exceptional bottles to open, Members to meet, and the opportunity to work with some of the finest wine voices today. I started as a cellar hand, working my way up through the ranks to head sommelier, and I think it is that capacity for growth within the team that makes 67 stand out.
How is the Californian wine category organised at 67 Pall Mall in terms of the styles and regions that are covered?
We have an extremely broad list, organised by colour, AVA, grape, and then producer. We cover every major region including Santa. Rita Hills, Napa Valley, Russian River Valley and more. We are delighted to list Louis M.Martini and Orin Swift as part of that selection.
Louis M. Martini, in particular, has an amazing heritage and sources its grapes from the highest quality vineyards in Napa Valley and Sonoma. Orin Swift wines are truly a work of art, from their iconic labels to the unique depth, complexity and unashamed boldness of the wines themselves.
What are the key trends amongst 67 Pall Mall customers for Californian wines – and are they changing?
We are seeing members diversifying their drinking, veering away from blue chip wines and into a wider range of styles, grapes and districts. Members are enjoying experimenting with and exploring California and what it has to offer, which is true across both bottle consumption, which is up by 48% year-on-year, and by the glass, which sits now at about 30%. The spend is nearly the same, but variation is on the up.
Do you see Californian wine as an alternative to one of the classic regions in France and across Europe?
Absolutely. Californian Bordeaux blends, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have evolved so much in their elegance that for me, they sit comfortably in the same league as premium Bordeaux or Burgundy wines.
What do you think California does better than anyone else?
I would say it is their understanding of shifts in consumer attitudes, an openness to take on suggestions from those who love it most, whilst still retaining a respect for terroir-led winemaking.
Do you have any upcoming events featuring Californian wine?
We will be hosting Edouard Baijot MW [the new director of luxury at E&J Gallo] on December 13 for a masterclass in which we discover stellar wines from Louis M. Martini, such as flagship Lot 1 Napa Valley sourced from incredible vineyards such as Stagecoach, Mount Veeder, Atlas Peak, Howell Mountain and other outstanding sites throughout Napa Valley AVA. We are looking forward to sharing its fascinating and diverse expressions of Napa Cabernet with our members.
How important is it for producers to be in the market and talking about their wines?
At 67 Pall Mall we are always looking to connect our members directly with wine producers via our Club Events, and we find that providing this personal connection is infinitely valuable. Wine lovers benefit from speaking directly to the people who produce their wine, it always helps to impart the story of the wine by embedding it within an unforgettable experience.
Where next for premium California – what would you like to see more of?
I would love to see more possibilities for sommeliers in Europe to visit the wineries and discover more first-hand, so that we can bring that valuable knowledge to the floor and ultimately, our guests.
- You can find out more about E&J Gallo Winery’s premium wine range at its website here.
- E&J Gallo Winery is a partner supplier to The Buyer.