By K.L. Riley
I had an opportunity to sit with Sean Tevik, Sommelier from Spaghetti Western Productions last week and I want to share some of our conversation. Spaghetti Western Productions is an umbrella company that boasts 3 eclectic restaurants ( Cowboy Ciao, Sea Saw, Digestif ) and a wine bar ( Kazimierz) in Scottsdale Arizona. Each of these establishments are independent but they all share a massive 3,300 bottle wine cellar that Sean Tevik oversees. A task as big as this one, would seem arduous for most but Sean somehow easily rises to the challenges of running a wine cellar of this magnitude rather effortlessly. I had a lot of questions for him and I hope they help us gain insight into the mind of a wine guru.
Q. What was it that brought you to your passion for wine?
A. Mostly, an obsession with beverages and alcoholic beverages more specifically. I first became interested in making my own beer, or trying to make my own beer because you had to be 21 to buy beer. Then I got into spirits. When I was 18 I had a pretty expensive car bar in the back of my trunk and we used to drink a lot of homemade spirits. Getting into wine was a natural evolution because it was a confusing world that we didn’t know much about. Wine at first when I was younger was something I knew nothing about and there is no one way to make it so there are a lot of possibilities. There are so many different styles of wine making from region to region, country to country and it’s a never ending rabbit hole. When I was 20 I attended college in Spain and I started collecting wine and one day I drank a bottle of Justin Isosceles and that was the bottle that blew me away. The Spanish people have an entirely different perspective on drinking , it’s not as taboo, so living in that kind of environment really helped cultivate my approach to alcohol. Spanish wine is so different than American wine and I was drinking older vintages, and wine is a part of life there.
Q. What is your favorite wine at the moment ?
A. Right now I would say my favorite wine is the 2006 Garnascha from the Villa Creek Cellars Denner Vineyards. It’s a single vineyard Grenache from Paso Robles California and what makes this wine so special is the root stock. It has great spice and well balanced fruit at a great price point. Unfortunately my cellar is the only cellar in Arizona that sells this wine so you will have to come to one of our establishments to enjoy it. Just a beautiful wine.
Q. Any tips for us on how to start a wine cellar or maintaining our current wine cellars?
A. Well the tendency is to drink all the wine in your home so the first step is don’t drink all your wine right away. A good way to avoid this problem is buying an entire case of wine instead of just a bottle. This was you can drink some now and drink some later. Also, allow room in your budget to buy wine. Instead of spending money on eating out 5 days a week only go out 4 days a week and use that extra money for wine. Temperature is also extremely important for keeping wine long term. If you don’t have a wine refrigerator the basement or the bottom of a closet should do the trick.
Q. I know that you are in the process of making your own wine and I was wondering if you could tell me about what you’ve been up to?
A. I am teaming up with Chrytal Clifton from Palmina Winery and we are doing one varietal this year. We want to focus on Italian varietals. I love the Rose grape and I think that it underappreciated in this country. I love rose from southern France and Northern Italy and I think they have specific components that give them great complexity. We are driven to make a perfect rose . Our rose will give you great acidity, earth , tannins, with a floral nose. This wine will jump out of the glass! All the things we love about rose will be encompassed in this wine. The name is still changing so when we rename the wine I will make sure to let the you know so you can buy a case for your cellar.
Q. What area of the world is really exciting for wine right now?
A. For me it’s Arizona. Arizona wines are starting to be taken a more seriously throughout the last couple of years. There are wineries in the south that are become recognized world wide and now there are more wineries in the north around Sedona that are making great wine. It is especially important for residents of the state of Arizona to take an interest in our local wineries. Go visit them and support them and you will be rewarded with some incredible wines to enjoy now and cellar for some years to enjoy later. Arizona has a hot climate so one would think that growing grapes here would be too difficult but I assure you they are incredible. Now, with the economy in shambles, we have an opportunity to cultivate our local wineries and plant a seed of interest to help them .besides, driving 2 hours to Sedona is a lot more cost efficient than taking the journey to Napa.
My conversation with Sean gave me great insight into the mind of a sommelier and it reinforces some of my beliefs, but more importantly it was a learning experience. Wine is such a complex world with confusing terms , pretentious people, and so many varietals and wineries to choose from. Sommeliers like Sean give me great relief in knowing that Wine is only a quest for knowledge for the humble and the appreciative. And it really tastes good!