Executive sommelier and brand ambassador at the Faena, Valeria Mortara has twice been named somm of the year by the prestigious Cuisine & Vins magazine. If you’re Faena Miami Beach-bound, know that she curated its wine list. And if you’re in Buenos Aires, you must sample BienConVino, her co-creation of wines designed to communicate harmony between food and wine.
What was your last pairing recommendation?
Recommending that the client opts for a pairing. It’s important to present consumers with the possibility that they try this experience. While a lot of people are familiar with the word, in fact there’s a long path with respect to communicating and developing this kind of experience. Today, as a whole, we work in a very farming-based way and every last detail of these small places of origin is analysed. Soils are meticulously studied, as are those little bubbles that have a unique microclimate. And all to give a wine a clear identity. It’s a job that isn’t often enjoyed or doesn’t perceive everything if the appropriate meal isn’t chosen to accompany it. And beyond flavours, it’s important to know that the pairing defends and makes the most faithful of flavours stand out with respect to that drink and food in particular.
Bourgogne. I can’t clearly explain why its wines, geography and culture fascinate me so much. It was one of the first wine regiones that I visited outside my country and the impact it generated is unforgettable. Its Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are special, different from all the rest. Some regions in Vallée du Rhône provoke something similar inside me but I have to choose one!
What do you love most about your job?
I feel that gastronomy is culture. When you talk about gastronomical products in general, wines, spirits or coffee and so on, it communicates a lot of things that make that product special. We talk about wine-producing countries and regions, about the people who make and consume them, about why they have been or are essential in developing certain cultures, socially and economically speaking.
And to learn about these matters, you need to study them. It’s part of the search, investigating, travelling, meeting different people and traditions that make me love this profession.
Name a gem in your personal cellar.
It’s not exactly an expensive or old wine. It’s a small collection that I brought back from a small producer I met in Sancerre: Jean-Louis Vacheron, from Domaine Vacheron. I had the chance to spend a few days with him and he shared some amazing things with me. It’s a family-run winery that grows Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir vines in different soils within the same region. They’ve been certified organic for several years and now they work bio-dynamically. I brought all the Sauvignon Blancs that had been classified by soil as well as different vintages. I can only imagine the moment I open them all together to see what happens. I look at them every day. It’s getting closer…
What’s the best thing that ever happened to you as a somm?
The truth is a lot of amazing things happen to me in this profession. The possibility of exchange is infinite. You can get to know other cultures and traditions, you can offer and pass on yours, you can visit places that are different to a region or country’s more common places. Experiences that weren’t in my imagination. There’s always new things to do. Travel, grow and live by applying what I love to those elements is the best thing – and it happens every day.
If you were a wine, you’d be:
Mmmm. I don’t know. It’s hard to describe oneself. Better for those who know me and those who love me to do so. Hahaha.