Malibu Beach Inn Sommelier Laurie Sutton Pouring Wine Behind The Bar

Sommelier Selection

Wine, according to the simplistic terms of Merriam-Webster, is “an alcoholic drink made from the juice of grapes.” It’s arguably one of the most prevalent beverages, regardless of decade and location. The popularity of wine far surpassing the trendiness of the Margarita, Aperol Spritz, and even the vodka soda.

As a hotel situated above the Pacific Ocean and under the California sun, we know how refreshing a glass of Rosé with lunch is, how soothing a well-chosen glass of Cabernet Franc at sunset is. We know firsthand how wonderful an intimate moment on your private balcony can be, especially when accompanied by a glass of dry Riesling.


Malibu Beach Inn Sommelier Laurie Sutton Pouring Wine Behind The Bar
Wine sommolier pouring wine

In other words, we appreciate wine; and in order to better facilitate our guests with their own special moments in Malibu, we study wine. Our sommelier and wine director, Laurie Sutton, goes above and beyond to hand select her award winning wine list, enabling her to bring our patrons delicious wines from all over the world.

For fall, she’s found a number of wines that aren’t just great on their own, but pair beautifully with the fresh and vibrant dishes that Chef Victor Morales has created for Carbon Beach Club.  Sutton explains that “Our guests have sophisticated tastes, so it’s a fun challenge to find and offer wines that they can get excited about.”

As we move into fall, and a new wine list, we caught up with Sommelier Sutton and asked her to tell us a bit about her wine philosophy, what she’s drinking these days, and how she’s pairing it.

You chill your red wine—does this mean you prefer to drink it cold, like white wine?

Well, not actually cold, which will tighten the wine, but chilled, say to 60 or 65 degrees. It only takes about 15 minutes in an ice bucket, but it’s worth the wait, especially for the lighter or medium bodied varietals like Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Grenache. When red wine is too warm, you can really taste the alcohol. That slight chill brings out the best of the fruit and the acid. It enhances their versatility, too, so you can pair them with dishes like fish and shellfish.

So counter to societal norms, you think it’s okay to drink red wine with seafood?

Malibu Beach Inn - Pouring Red Wine

Photo credit: Flickr via Dave Dugdale

Of course! We’ve got a Cabernet Franc from Italy on the list that is terrific with Chef’s BBQ Mexican Shrimp. It can stand up to all the flavors—sweet, spicy, briny—and the chill in the wine is especially nice against the heat in the dish. For the Whole Branzino, I’d recommend our Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is a red blend from the southern Rhone region of France. It’s juicy with red plums and strawberries, but the olive and herb notes blend really well with the fennel, olive oil, and roasted tomatoes that flavor the fish.

Chef Victor’s chicken has recently acquired a wonderful reputation for being especially delicious, different than your standard subpar chicken entrée. What do you recommend as a pairing?

Try the Domaine Jacques Girardin “Les Peuillets.” It’s an elegant and powerful Pinot Noir with a great blend of red fruit and earthiness. Since it’s from a lesser-known appellation in Burgundy, it’s a great value, particularly for a 1er Cru. It’s also fabulous with the Cacio e Pepe with Truffles and with cheese. Try it with the Saint-Andres for a real treat.

Your wine list is filled with big, brawny reds that would be fantastic with red meat. What are some standouts that you’ve recently added?

For one, the Twomey Napa Valley Merlot, 2012. This small-production wine from Silver Oak is is actually one of the gems on our list—the winemakers and consultants have worked, in combination, over 40 vintages at Petrus in Bordeaux, which has created some of the most awarded wines in the world. It’s full-bodied, balanced, and has smooth tannins with notes of dark fruits, plums, dark chocolate, tobacco, and cedar. It pairs well with the Bourbon Glazed Porkchop, the Grass Fed Beef Burger, and the Tomahawk Rib Eye for Two.

Malibu Beach Inn Sommelier Laurie Sutton Pouring Wine Behind The Bar

Another big red to consider with red meat is Krupp Brothers “The Doctor,” which is a stellar blend of Tempranillo, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Malbec from some of the most prestigious vineyards in Napa Valley. This wine is huge in complexity: deep, dark, aromatic, and spicy, but surprisingly versatile, too. It’s amazing with the Tomahawk Rib Eye, but would also pair well with the Cacio e Pepe, cheese and charcuterie plate, and even truffle fries!

Like most, we love Chardonnay, but are ready to branch out and try a few new interesting whites. What would you recommend?

Krupp Brothers “Black Bart’s Bride” is another gem for our property—only 250 cases are made each year. It’s a combination of Viognier and Roussanne, so expect sweet spice and hazelnuts with a touch of citrus and peach. It’s actually delicious with the BBQ Mexican Shrimp, the Foie Gras Crostone, the Bourbon Glazed Porkchop, and the Branzino.

I’m crazy about dry Riesling right now—it’s remarkably food friendly. One of my favorites, and a new addition to our list, is from Joh. Jos. Prüm Spatlese in Mosel, Germany. It sings with a harmonious balance of sweetness and acidity, making it perfect for spicy and salty dishes like the Grilled Peaches Salad with La Quercia Prosciutto, Burrata, Arugula, and Pesto and the Ahi Tuna Tartare with Red Indian Curry.

But don’t totally cut out Chardonnay! Shafer’s 2013 “Red Shoulder Ranch” from Carneros is a lovely, mineral-driven Chardonnay that’s full-bodied enough for a chilly fall evening. Try it with the Wild King Salmon—it’s a classic combination—or the Charred Spanish Octopus.

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