February 29, 2008

New Colorado Master Sommeliers

There are many sommeliers working in the US, but only 87 can claim to be Master Sommeliers—and 10 of them are in Colorado. The newest people to pass the grueling exams that earned them the title are Jesse Becker at Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, and Sean Razee at the Ritz-Carlton in Edwards.

To become a Master Sommelier, candidates must pass a three-part exam that includes a oral exam testing knowledge of wine, spirits and cigars, a tasting of 6 wines they must describe and identify correctly within 25 minutes, and a nerve-racking practical in which they must perform sommelier duties at multiple tables of wine professionals masquerading as demanding restaurant customers.

Becker is the second MS to emerge from Frasca, where Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey presides, making it only one of three restaurants in the US to claim two Master Sommeliers. Last year, Nate Ready earned the title while working at Frasca; he’s now at Boulder Wine Merchants, making that store the only in the U.S. to boast three Master Sommeliers.

Such a high concentration of Master Sommeliers in one town, let alone one state, is rare, but Master Sommelier Wayne Belding of Boulder Wine Merchants points out that it makes some sense. “It’s good practice to work with other Master Sommeliers, not only for the level of knowledge they offer, but to push them, to be the burr under the saddle that keeps them going,” he says. “It helps to have people who understand the level of preparation and devotion needed to pass this exam.” But he’s not taking any credit for their success: “It all comes from the individual, from within.”

In addition to Belding, Ready and Stuckey, Becker and Razee join a list of Colorado MSs that includes Sally Mohr of Boulder Wine Merchants, Richard Betts of Aspen’s Little Nell, Jay Fletcher of Southern Wine & Spirits, Doug Krenik of Rosenthal Wine Merchants, and Brett Zimmerman of Domaine Select.

This article first appeared in the Denver Post.

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