Q&A: Nick Morisi of Yvonne’s
Schnelwar Swizzle (Puritan & Company)
The Rebujito (Toro)
Long before Nick Morisi scored a gig at Boston’s one-of-a-kind “modern supper club” Yvonne’s, he was a busser in a steakhouse with a budding fascination. “I remember sitting in the private dining rooms for pre-service, surrounded by cases of wine, tasting alongside the servers, and taking it all in,” he says. The interest stuck with Morisi as he transitioned into serving positions. And it later drove him to take a 12 week crash-course in wine at BU, in which he delved into hundreds of wine styles from all over the world—ultimately awarding him with sommelier credentials. These days, his passion is channeled into Yvonne’s extensive wine list, which Morisi curates as wine director.
Best wine memory:
Visiting France for the first time was pretty surreal. French wine was the first thing I gravitated toward as I was starting to study wine, so it was amazing to go to the places I’d known only as dots on a map and meet people I had admired for years.
Dream wine destination:
Somewhere on Sicily’s Mount Etna. I love high-altitude wines, and the combination of that with an active volcano makes for some incredible wine. Not to mention the stunning views of the Mediterranean.
There are a lot of factors that play into that question. Logistically, I look to ensure a diversity of price points, wine regions, grape varietals, and wine styles within those regions and varietals. But in a broader sense, I am always looking for wines that come from responsible producers, and for wines that have a real sense of place and balance. People find comfort when they look at a list and they recognize the brand names, but in most cases, wineries that produce millions of cases take certain shortcuts that turn something unique and natural and turn it into a commodity product without any character. Lastly, I look for wines with a story because at the end of the meal, that is what will truly make for a memorable bottle.
Most exciting bottle:
The Massican “Annia” white blend from Napa. The winemaker, Dan Petroski, has been represented on our list for quite some time with Larkmead, the Napa winery for whom he also serves as winemaker, known for their powerful reds. Massican is Petroski’s own project and offers a contrast not only to the wines of Larkmead, but to the wines of Napa overall. The wine shows Old World restraint in a place not often known for that quality, making it a rather refreshing surprise.
Best under $20:
I tend to prefer whites to reds, and Spanish whites almost always come at a great value. Granbazán’s “Verde” Albariño is a great example—it is mouthwatering and bright, with high-toned notes of citrus and stone fruit, and finishes with a cleansing salinity. If I’m looking for something special, I’ll go for red Burgundy, such as a Michel Lafarge Volnay, which are some of the most refined and elegant wines I’ve ever enjoyed.
Worst wine trend:
This is going to sound anti-hipster, but I think “natural” wine has taken an aggressive step to the point of passing off flawed wines as being made deliberately so. I believe in the quality and purity of fruit—grapes treated the right way do not need much work to make great wine, so in that sense, I love natural wine. I think that it goes a bit too far sometimes, and I really just don’t see the appeal of something that tastes like a Band-Aid.
Wine education motivation:
The fact that there is always more to learn. Most wine professionals you talk to will tell you the more you learn the less you know. The wine world is enormous, so much more so than you realize until you really get into it. There are people everywhere trying to do something new or different with wine, and while sometimes the results are awful, often times you’ll find something very unique.