BLT STEAK & BLT FISH | New York City
Like the growth of a grapevine, ripening through the
seasons to maturity, the last 10 years of Fred Dexheimer’s
life has been full of twists and turns, each of them adding
a crucial layer to the foundation of his professional success
and oenological knowledge. At 27, Dexheimer takes control
of the wine program at BLT Steak, backed by a remarkable collection
of wine experiences and wine collection itself.
With curiosity and youth on his side, Dexheimer traveled
west to Jackson Hole the at the Amangani Resort, and by day,
field questions at the area’s largest wine retailer,
Quaker House, soaking in all that he observed like a bunch
of grapes basking in the sun.
Dreams of vast wine cellars and customers to support them
fueled him to then pack up his mountain gear and wine key
and travel east to Nantucket. Taking full advantage of the
opportunities on this resort island, he assisted the sommelier
of the White Elephant by night, and managed Wauwinet’s
wine cellar by day. As the summer season drew to an end, Dexheimer,
certain of his path, followed his nose to Jackson Hole for
the Wine Spectator Auction where Jean Luc le Du discovered
him sniffing out the best vintages of Margaux and Lafitte-Rothschild.
With a nod to the east and the promise of an assistant sommelier
position at Daniel, Dexheimer was New York bound.
While continuing his search for knowledge and thirst for
wines he’d not yet tasted, Dexheimer proudly describes
his tutelage under esteemed Sommelier Paul Grieco at Gramercy
Tavern, where he learned far more than obscure varietals.
It was the enlightened hospitality at Danny Meyer’s
bastion of American cuisine that added the next ripening layer
to Dexheimer as a Sommelier. From cellar management and wine
service to staff education, Dexheimer exercised all of his
wine-friendly muscles daily, learning the importance of the
wines by the glass program as the snapshot of the wine
list, of cellar management since this is “where it happens,”
and of the cocktail program where top quality liquors, mixers
and condiments take the stage. In viticultural terms, he had
been pruned and was now flowering, maturing beautifully.
In 2002, Dexheimer accepted his first position as Sommelier
at the 3-star ranked Cello. Working alongside Executive Chef,
Laurent Tourondel, Dexheimer chose wines that were a perfect
marriage to the inventive seafood dishes. His philosophy--to
focus less on the fish and more on the collective flavors
of the dish.
Wine consultation at L’Impero followed. Here Dexheimer
experienced the opening of a restaurant – the construction
and operation of a wine list, as well as the staff training
– which culminated in a 3-star New York Times review.
Stints at Jean-Georges and 66 added yet another knot on the
vine, giving Dexheimer the opportunity to manage multiple
wine lists at once. And it doesn’t end there. Stages
at Iron Horse Winery in Sonoma and Talley in Arroyo Grande
expanded Dexheimer’s understanding of the growth of
a grape, the harvesting of the crop, and the blending of varietals
– not to mention sparked his interest in Southern California
Syrah and Pinot Noir. Finally, Dexheimer oversaw the wine
pairings with each dish in Tourondel’s upcoming book,
?. With his sights set on the Master Sommelier Exam in 2005,
Dexheimer has already added the final touches to his craft;
now he is simply polishing.
At BLT Steak, Dexheimer manages a 10,000 bottle cellar, features
700 on the list, and 17 by the glass. New and Old World wines
share space, and a “short list” accompanies it,
showcasing a smaller, bistro-style selection for convenience
and ease. The ingredient-focused classic cocktail menu, designed
by Dexheimer, mirrors Tourondel’s approach in the kitchen,
with such highlights as a 6 Train Side Car and an 1874 Manhattan.
Dexheimer’s goal is unmistakable – to captivate
people by encouraging them to try wines they’ve never
experienced before, and to enlighten them in the process.
And, why not trust him? He’s ripened from the
inside, out, appreciating wine from all vantages – in
the vineyard, as a retailer, as an educator, in the cellar
and on the floor.
When asked how he’ll celebrate the opening of BLT Steak,
Dexheimer says with a gleam in his eye, “with Tourondel’s
short ribs – they’re the best I’ve had –
and a juicy old vine Zin to complement the sweetness in the