The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 120 of 124

120 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2015/2016 { milestones } food, as well as a sense of service. I think he must have gotten that from his dad, who worked in restaurants and wholesale pro- duce markets. There was something Guy wanted beyond the next meal. Service was his ticket to that something. And service being the dominant pillar in the Court of Master Sommeliers, Guy was naturally drawn in that direction. It wasn't just the pin. It was what the pin represented. I've never seen anyone more doggedly determined than Guy. He didn't have young brain cells, and he wasn't particularly good at memorization. But he was a naturally gifted taster. Guy had to feel it viscerally —it was a physical induction, not just an intellectual one. And he tripped. Often. He stumbled. More than once. His table service wasn't the strongest, so he went to Napa Valley and stage'd at The French Laundry under Paul Roberts, a Tex- pat who had earned his Master Sommelier pin in 2002. I'm sure Fred Dame wondered more than once how this rough-and-tum- ble cowboy got into the program. Guy has a reputation for living and drinking large. But blind tasting required discipline. So Guy tightened up and studied his grid and practiced, and blind tasted all through the 1990s and well into the 2000s. And when he fell, he got back up and started again. As a kid in the produce market, Guy learned from his dad that failure wasn't acceptable. So, ten years ago, Guy made it to the summit and became a Master Sommelier at the age of 51. Not a young lion, like so many of the new-crop masters. He didn't get it the first or even the second time around, but he didn't give up. I like to think that's what sets Guy apart as a Master. He used experience and failure as well as intelligence and cunning to arrive at the top. It was grueling to watch from the sidelines. But Guy knew he was going to get what he wanted. You might not see all this when you meet Guy today. He has a great gig with a large dis- tributor. He travels the world. He's a personality, a drawing card. Winemaker Jean- Charles le Bault of Bonneau du Mar tray said recently at a gath- ering of wine lovers in Boulder, Colorado, "We are here to serve the place." Guy exemplifies a lifetime of service—to wine, to his col- leagues, to his customers and friends and family. A model slave to the wine god. It's so much more than tast- ing the oldest and the rarest. Those are, after all, fleeting moments. It gets back to people. Even before he got the pin, he mentored young, upcoming hopefuls like Craig Collins, Drew Hendricks, James Tidwell and Devon Broglie, all now Master Sommeliers in their own right. That's not to say it was solely because of Guy. But he provided some sturdy and stout shoulders on which they could stand and peer into their future. Guy continues paying it for- ward with today's rising young stars. And to think our journey began over a humble bottle of Dry Creek Gamay Beaujolais made by an Italian-American. You never know where a bottle or a friendship will take you. But I'm sure glad Guy Stout walked into my wine bar on that hot-as-hell day in Dallas, Texas, in 1980. Walking the property at Château Cheval Blanc. "He has a great gig with a large distributor. He travels the world. He's a personality, a drawing card." Judging wines at the California State Fair. Glazer's Alfonso Cevola with Guy Stout and Winemaker Ric Forman in Napa, circa mid-1980s.

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