Downtown Miami’s swanky DB Bistro Moderne specializes in French wines and offers an impressive wine portfolio specially selected to complement Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker and chef Daniel Boulud’s French-American cuisine.
DB sommelier Christopher Birnie-Visscher has worked in restaurants in Tennessee and Canada; but he’s no stranger to the chef’s culinary empire. He perfected his detail-oriented approach to Boulud’s exemplary service under head sommelier Mariya Kovacheva at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Café Boulud Palm Beach. An advanced ambassador of the Wines of Portugal Wine Academy, this rising star holds an advanced sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Recently, Birnie-Visscher gave us a glimpse into DB’s renowned international wine cellar, which features a unique selection of some of South America’s best winemakers, including those from Argentina and Chile, to reflect Miami’s vibrant international vino culture.
The realization came to me when I was having a glass of Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé champagne while reading Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course on champagne itself. At that instant, the connection struck like lightning.
Who, of all the amazing restaurateurs, chefs and sommeliers you’ve worked under, was most inspirational to you?
The most inspirational sommelier in my professional experience has been Mariya Kovacheva of Café Boulud Palm Beach. Mariya brought me in and showed me the world of wine through her eyes. She is a phenomenal teacher and a dear friend. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.
What have you enjoyed most about working with Daniel Boulud?
Working within the Boulud group of restaurants affords the opportunity to work with impeccable talent, in both the dining room and the kitchen. Each staff member brings individual talents to the table, and together the staff provides the ultimate experience. We learn from each other and make ourselves better each passing day.
How would you describe the wine selection at DB Bistro Moderne?
In one word: diverse. The selection is well rounded and showcases nearly every wine-producing country — there are classics and new inspirations.
What labels would you recommend for fall?
White: 2012 Paul Cluver Gewurztraminer, Elgin, South Africa. I recently returned from The Beautiful South trade show in London and found this beauty. This gewurztraminer comes from a cool area [near] the coast in Elgin. The wine is full of tropical fruit notes and has great finesse. It is balanced in all aspects and is a fantastic value.
Red: 2011 Jamsheed “Garden Gully” Syrah, Great Western, Victoria, Australia. This syrah is from the Grampians in Victoria. The wine has lip-smacking fruit and spiciness, and is a great fall wine. It is extremely balanced and you can enjoy this wine throughout the year. If you enjoy wines from the Rhône Valley, this one is not to miss.
What wine and food pairings would you suggest?
For the Cluver gewurztraminer, I am craving spicy Thai noodles made with coconut milk. And for the Jamsheed syrah, [I suggest] Moroccan spiced lamb on the grill.
What impression do you want to make on DB guests?
The impression that I want to make on DB guests is that we provide immaculate and beautiful wine service. Whether my guests are wine professionals or are dabbling in wine for the first time, I want them all to experience a superb and hospitable wine experience. There is no greater compliment than when guests return to your establishment.
How would you describe the Miami wine scene?
[It’s] absolutely fascinating. The city is full of culture and diversity, which correlates directly with the wine scene. People of all ages are engaging with wine and exploring what the city’s restaurants have to offer.
What sets your sommelier style and wine selection apart from the rest?
The most important aspect for me is to present a wine program that caters to all guests. I like to stay true to classical regions; but I also love to find new discoveries and share these findings.
Photos Courtesy of db Bistro and Christopher Birnie Visscher