Alex LaPratt SommelierAlex LaPratt: First in Class
If you speak with Alexander LaPratt about wine, you’ll immediately see his enthusiasm bubble over like Grand Cru Champagne. On two occasions we’ve had this pleasure at Atrium, the restaurant in Dumbo, which he co-owns with Chef Laurent Kalkotour and Leslie Affre. With a pedigree of working at the French Laundry, DB Bistro Moderne and Jean Georges, Alex earning the prestigious title of Master Sommelier is no surprise. In fact, as the First Master Sommelier in Brooklyn, Alex has set the bar high.
Galavante: There are 219 professionals in the world to have earned the title Master Sommelier, in 2014 you were one of five to earn this distinction, how do you feel?
Alex: It was a personal goal for me since I was 19. I look back now and it was a total lifetime of work really. It’s a long process with four different stages. You stop and start and in between you take some time off. It’s intense. To achieve this, it’s a lot of relief. And now with the Master Sommelier title, I teach at the ICC (International Culinary Center) and do private speaking engagements.
Galavante: Working with Chef Laurent Kalkotour’s French inspired menu, how did this impact the structure of your wine program?
Alex: The food from Chef Laurent is so well-balanced. His flavors are pure and focused, and it’s easy to match with wines. Dishes that have a classic profile of food can especially play well with wine. As the seasons change so does the menu and the wines.
Galavante: Farm to table is trending in restaurants; do you see a similar vine to glass trend in the minds of customers?
Alex: There’s a lot more publicity today; there’s a responsibility to manage the vineyard especially with the use of chemicals and machinery. The US public is more knowledgeable; more aware of where your wine comes from. There is increased marketing on natural wines as well. For me it’s not a new concept. I always focus on smaller wine producers and focus on a place. It is important to select a wine, know how it is made and choose one that has good qualities. With no or less chemicals used, there is less influence between the grapes and the wine maker. Wine is made in the vineyard first then by the wine maker. Wines made in a conscientious manner can tell a story.
Galavante: My favorite dish is the Roast Chicken Pot pie for two, and my date loves Champagne, what should we drink?
Alex: Incredible! An older champagne something with age, with earthy qualities, like mushrooms and some nuttiness, something with more power. Champagnes made using the Solera method (a system of blending) can hold up to the meat and cream in this dish. Truffles and old champagne work really well.
Galavante: At the end of the night, what do you drink before leaving the restaurant?
Alex: Depends on the day! At Atrium we worked hard on our cocktail program so I may have a cocktail. Lately at the end of a hectic night, I try to eat healthy with some salad and a grilled chicken or meat ,so I’ll have a glass of Chablis. Patrick Puize makes a great Chablis, small selection (a Grand Cru vineyard) from small land parcels, a little bit of oak, complex with some minerality, it’s refreshing to drink at then end of the night.
Galavante: Whatever the drink of choice, it's well-deserved. Congratulations on the success, and we look forward to seeing what’s next for you.