We are so grateful to have worked with some fantastic curators over the past couple of years. So, it was no surprise when so many familiar names showed up on the 2022 list of nominations for the James Beard Awards. Take a look back at some of our favorite bottles chosen by this year's nominees. And if you haven’t made your way into one of these restaurants, what are you waiting for?!
Daniel Gursha (Ledger, Salem) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
UG Curator: Scott Lefler, Wine Director
How has your palate changed since you started out?
The more you pay attention to wine and the more you talk about it, you just become more familiar with it. My story is the polar opposite from a lot of the ones I’ve heard. The ones that start out, ‘my uncle gave me a bottle of this vintage of Château d’Yquem when I was seven years old, and I knew then…’ That’s not me. I grew up in Kansas with my mom’s box of Franzia White Zin in the fridge. I’m no super-taster either. When I started out, I’d be like, “oh, this bottle’s corked?” I had no idea. The one class I took from a distributor, I took that corked bottle and asked, ‘can I taste it and take it home? They were like, you’re a weirdo but okay.
One of our favorite picks from Scott
Domaine Bordenave, Souvenirs d'Enfance
Medium bodied & sleek. Creamed Honey, Poached Pear, Olive Oil.
Jurançon AOP - Southwest, France
100% Gros Manseng
Glossy smooth, sophisticated, & memorable. This white has serious texture & staying power.
Douglass Williams (Mida, Boston) — Outstanding Chef Semifinalist (Williams was a 2020 semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast)
UG Curator: Kate Martino, General Manager/Wine Director
How have things changed since you began selling your wines?
I noticed that people are ordering wines that I know they haven’t heard of, but everyone has become so open minded and willing to try new things because they’re at home and interested in something different. Creating space for dialogue is so important. Communicating with the people we serve is the only way to improve. It’s great when we can give a guest an experience they might not have had before coming into our restaurant. Our kitchen has been overloaded, but our staff has really stepped up. We have servers who are learning to make pasta, just because we’re going through so much of it, and the kitchen staff is helping us when we need it.
One of our favorite picks from Kate
Cantine Rao, ‘Silva Nigra’
Full bodied & muscular. Cherry pits, Firewood.
Campania IGT - Campania, Italy
It's all about thyme, tobacco, and tannins that take hold and fade slowly.
Tiffani Faison (Orfano, Boston) — Best Chef: Northeast Semifinalist (Faison was also a 2020 semifinalist in this category.)
UG Curator: Charlie Gaeta, Wine Director - Big Heart Hospitality
Tell is about your recent (laser) focus on Aligoté…
Aligoté is from a region that’s hard to drink wine from. If I’m looking for a white wine that has acidity, minerality, and a sense of place, Aligoté is one of those wines. You can drink wine made from some of the best winemakers on the planet for $16 a glass. If it was their Chardonnay and it was from their Premier or Grand Cru sites, you’re talking about anywhere from $1,500 a bottle. Like Pierre Morey, he’s one of the most famous names in the history of Burgundy. And here, you get to drink that entire story in a glass on a Tuesday.
One of our favorite picks from Charlie
J & H Selbach, Saar Riesling Kabinett
Medium bodied, so decadent. Key lime, green tea, subtle petrol.
Pomelo and lime with sharp, arousing acidity. Gentle, warming bitterness for balance. Seriously addictive.
Jeremy Kean and Philip Kruta (Brassica Kitchen + Cafe, Boston) — Best Chef: Northeast Semifinalists
UG Curator: Noah Todoroff, Co-Owner & Beverage Director
What was it about working in food and wine that made you want to stay?
Honestly it was hospitality in general. I discovered I could affect someone’s day and mood, even my own day and mood just by sitting and talking and sharing. It wasn’t the food or the wine, I stayed for the people and the connections. To get that high when you’re like, okay, I’m running around, I’m moving, I’m talking, I’m laughing, and I love it. It’s addicting.
Is there an adjustment that you just haven’t gotten used to yet?
Yes. We’re so used to pouring a glass and sitting with customers, sharing the wine, and just talking about it. Now notes about food go into takeout bags. It’s so strange not being able to have the conversations we’re used to having, like talking about what they taste or smell. Now I have to stand away, do all of that away from customers, and come back to the table. So much about wine can be unapproachable, this just puts another wall up that keeps us from connecting. It’s bizarre. We still open anything and everything for everyone if they want though. But we have less time with everyone because of that too.
One of our favorite picks from Noah
Mas de Cynanque, Saint-Chinian Fleur
AOC Saint Chinian - Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Carignan, Grenache, Syrah
Medium bodied & uplifting. Dried Blueberries, Lilacs, Maplewood
Delicately smoky and beautifully textured. Concentrated, warming, and full of cherries.
John DaSilva (Chickadee, Boston) — Best Chef: Northeast semifinalist
UG Curator: Ted Kilpatrick, Beverage Director/Owner
Where did the name Chickadee come from?
It’s the state bird of MA. John’s food has always been very Mediterranean, but we didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into that. So really, it's Mediterranean by way of New England. We also like the name because it’s disarming. You know going into it it’s going to be a social, fun, approachable place hopefully serving some of the best food in Boston.
Where did you learn how to hustle?
It’s not you fake it till you make it. In this industry, you’re only successful if you have a strong work ethic. You don’t get anywhere, especially not opening a place of your own, unless that's ingrained in you. I think that’s what John and I saw in each other.
One of our favorite picks from Ted
Ulacia, Txakolina de Getaria Rosé
Medium bodied & zippy. Watermelon, tart strawberries, light spark.
50% Hondarrabi Zuri, 50% Hondarrabi Beltza
Perfectly dry with a soft spritz. Watermelon, tart strawberry, with a bright, citrusy finish.