Recently we interviewed Kristi Linneboe and Matthew Landry, who are two of Gargoyle's newest curators.
We spoke a little about what they have been up to, how they analyze something as subjective as wine, and changes they've seen in the wine world over the years.
Read on to hear from Kristi and Matthew!
Hello! Tell us what you're doing these days...
Kristi (K): I have a final WSET Diploma exam coming up so most of these days are spent studying at my desk to be honest. I am a big fan of Mother Nature and have the great pleasure of living in Vancouver’s West End so I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I break from my desk every now and then for some vino sips on the beach to soak up some early spring rays. On a more productive note though - I am starting a new management and Wine Director position at Como Taperia! They are a Spanish tapas bar that gives Vancouver a truly authentic taste of European food and wine culture. Come for the food, come for the football, come for the Sherry! Beyond that, I keep myself busy with some side projects and tastings, and I sit on the Industry Advisory board for the BC Hospitality Foundation.
Matthew (M): I recently took over as the French Programs Director for the Wine Scholar Guild, as well as taking on a position in sales with The Living Vine BC. I am also a freelance educator, as well as a wine judge both nationally and abroad. When not wine focused, I spend my free time strolling up and down mountains here in BC.
And what kind of experience and training did you have before doing what you do today?
M: I am a CMS certified sommelier, a Vinitaly Italian Wine Ambassador and 3iC Piemonte Specialist. I worked for the Stable Hospitality Group in Vancouver for the past 6 years, and I still consult for them on various projects.
K: I hustled at a couple pubs while making my way through my university degree but didn’t take the deep dive into hospitality until I started as a bartender at Maenam Restaurant in 2011. There, I got to create cocktails to pair with the exotic flavours of Thai cuisine, and eventually where I first discovered the magic of food and wine together. The Wine Director position at L’Abattoir is where I got to focus primarily on French and Italian wines, while still celebrating the Pacific Northwest. The list highlighted unknown producers from well-known regions, but also showcased well-known varieties being grown in unknown places. A focus on smaller producers and sustainable viticulture practices, allowed the list to really tell a story. More recently, I spent 6 months in the Okanagan Valley, where I had the opportunity to be a part of the 2020 harvest team at Tantalus Vineyards. It was one of the best experiences of my life - What better way to truly understand viticulture and the winemaking process than to get your hands dirty!
How do you analyze something like a wine which is a very subjective experience?
K: Wine is all about the story: who made it, what makes it different from other wines, why it tastes the way it does, and why it is the right wine for that moment. As a Diploma student, I can’t help but have the Systematic Approach to Tasting ingrained in the back of my mind so I definitely consider the structural components of a wine when I am evaluating it. But tasting in a sterile classroom is very different from tasting in a park with your BFF or drinking Vin de France out of a tumbler on a Parisien bistro patio. The best wines are the wines that make you feel something. The greatest wines of all time are the wines that show a sense of place. I think the most exciting wines come from the vineyards - the quality of the wine is directly related to the weather, soil, and farming techniques used. So for me, when I ask myself if it truly tastes like the wine that it says it is, can I picture myself there, can I feel the place where it says it's from?
M: I’m always looking for balance and applicability. How is it by itself, and how might it change in various environments or partnered with different types of cuisine? If I am formally judging a wine, I use the CMS deductive tasting grid to assess its structural components.
4- What has been the biggest change in the wine world since you started your career?
M: Oh, probably the rise of natural wine. Interest is exploding. That’s both a blessing and a curse.
K: Absolutely the natural wine trend! The market-appeal of colourful labels and cloudy wine is dominating the wine industry in an unprecedented way. The counter-culture implications are attractive, with the idea of art and magic, even a mysteriousness or witchcraftiness if we consider lunar calendars. The natural wine scene captures a unique lifestyle and consumers are drawn to natural wine events because they want to be a part of a greater community. While the natural wine movement might currently be facing some challenges in the realms of definition and practices, it is definitely a trend that is here to stay.