Sunday, August 11, 2019

A Case of Question with Georgios Hadjistylianou, Head Sommelier, Amara Hotel

Fat Fish has always been one of my favorite taverns in Limassol, particularly because of its meticulously sourced and thought-out wine list.

This shouldn't come as a surprise considering the grizzled gentleman behind the restaurant's undying success.

Georgios Hadjistylianou, whose twenty-five year career as wine guru has stretched from New York City to Limassol with stops in Crete and Morgon in France, has been at the helm of Fat Fish since 2008. In 2017, he also opened Vinothiki, a small cava that purveys terroir-driven wines from some of his favorite producers and regions. Today, in addition to these aforementioned pursuits and often rocking his signature flat caps, he stars as the head sommelier for Amara, yet another five-star luxury hotel that opened in Limassol to regale the Russians.

We sat down with Georgios to get some insight into his life in wine and give him a shot at name-dropping more than an up-and-coming hip-hop artist looking for sponsorship opportunities and some spare change. Ka-ching!

Why wine? 

Other than humans and animals, it's the only other "living thing." And not to mention, the best and most civilized conversations I've ever had was with wine.

First wine that really captured your attention? How old were you? 

When in Birmingham at 20 years old, we had a wine tasting class at Birmingham College and it was myself with a friend who were responsible for cleaning up, but instead we went to a bar for a beer. Well, we never made it back on time. When we entered the classroom the next morning, the room smelled scrumptious; it's still to date one of the best smells I've ever experienced.

All-time favorite bottle of wine? 

Sorry, it can't be one as there are a few,  around 10 to 20-plus. Like in 1999, the Bordeaux tasting of 1982s, 1983s and 1985s at the Windows on the World. Also, my last day in New York City, the 1962 sweet Riesling at Harry's Restaurant. And back in 1997, the first time I tasted Austrian wines. And so on...

Favorite wine-producing region? Why? 

That's not possible. Barolo, Barbaresco, Tuscany, Loire Valley whites & reds, Rias Baixas, Chablis, Beaujolais, Burgundy (though way too expensive these days) and, of course, Naoussa and Santorini.

Your favorite food-and-wine pairing? 

The one that's a slam dunk. [Editor's note: A 360 windmill à la Dominique, we hope.]

What is Cyprus missing when it comes to wine? 

Sparkling wine and less manipulation on its wines.

Georgios & His Beloved Morgon

What do you foresee for Cyprus’s wine industry? 

Getting more exciting with indigenous varieties.

What do you enjoy most about your work in the food & wine world? 

Exploring wines, as well as offering people interesting and exciting wines.

What is your “Five Year Plan” for your career in the wine industry? 

Since December 2016, after my time in France, I've decided not to work more than 8 or max 9 hours a day. I don't have a five-year plan. In early June 2019, I started working as the head sommelier at the newly opened Amara hotel in Limassol with plenty of great opportunities. Plans are good; however, I prefer taking things a day at a time!

Who is your favorite wine personality? Why? 

It is not possible to pick one. I'll start from the Barolo rebels—the late Bartolo Mascarello, the late Giuseppe Citro Rinaldi, and the late Theobalto Cappelano. Then there's the late Serge Hochar in Lebanon, the late Haridimos Hatzidakis, the magician of Santorini, the Tatsis brothers in Goumenissa, Evriviades Sclavos in Cephalonia, Yianis Economou in Sitia, Crete, Josko Gravner & Stanko Radikon from Friuli, Laureano Serres & Juan Ramon Escoda & Carmen Sanhuja, Elena Panteleoni, Elisabetta Foradori. I feel like I'm forgetting some—Egon Muller, Donhhoff, Dr. Loosen, Joh. Jos. Prüm, Josef Leitz in Germany, Johanes Hirsch, Schloss Gobelsburg, Nikolaihof, Emerich Knoll. It can never be just one.

Any embarrassing episodes involving spilled wine, corkscrews, sommeliers or drunken behavior? 

Nothing really major.

Of course, your all-time favorite island wine? 

As with the personalities, same here. I just cannot select one. 1959 Musar white, 1976 Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Spatlese, 2001 Gravner Ribolla Gialla Anfora, 1992 Gravner Ribolla, 2000 Stanco Radikon Ribolla Gialla Collio Radikon, Salvo Foti, Roumier, Rouget. How can I select one wine? Sorry but that's not possible!

You can reach Georgios on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Vinothiki's website.